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Music downloader loses appeal

Must pay $22,500 in damages

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The US Court of Appeals has rejected a Chicago woman's claim that she only downloaded music tracks to see whether she wanted to buy them.

The Court told Cecilia Gonzalez, 29, she must pay the $22,500 damages won by the music industry at an earlier District Court hearing.

At her appeal, Gonzalez' lawyers argued that her activities were permitted by copyright law. However, the court rejected such claims on the grounds that she had kept the downloaded copies of songs she did not intend to buy.

"A copy downloaded, played and retained on one's hard drive for future use is a direct substitute for a purchased copy," the judges said. Gonzalez' argument is "no more relevant than a thief's contention that he shoplifted only 30 compact discs, planning to listen to them at home and pay later".

Gonzalez was one of thousands of computer users sued by the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA). She rejected a $3,500 settlement proposal, and was taken to court. There, the judge ruled she should pay $750 each for 30 songs she allegedly distributed over the Internet - a total of $22,500. ®

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