A US-based mother of five has lost an appeal and has been ordered to pay $22,500 in damages to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Cecilia Gonzalez is one of many thousands accused of downloading and sharing copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks.
The woman took the unusual step of countersuing, claiming that she had downloaded the music to sample it and would have bought it at a later date if she liked it.
The judge at the appeals court said: "A copy downloaded, played and retained on one's hard drive for future use is a direct substitute for a purchased copy.
"Gonzalez's 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's lawyer had claimed that she had not broken any copyright laws by sampling the music.
The woman had declined to pay a $3,500 settlement offered by the RIAA, and the case was taken to court. Gonzalez apparently downloaded and distributed at least 30 songs and was fined $750 per track.
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