It was the first civil case over P2P file-sharing ever to make it to the courtroom. Thomas, a 30-year-old mother of two, faced charges that she made 1,702 major label tracks available on the Kazaa file sharing network in 2005.

Major labels suing individuals over peer-to-peer file-sharing is nothing new. The recording industry has unleashed the dogs of lawyerdom on alleged music pirates for more than four years.

But an actual trial is news. Despite all the lawsuits filed against alleged infringement perps, up until now all cases resulted in settlements, with the accused paying anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 along with a signed statement saying they would never pirate music again.

Because the price of settling these civil suits costs much less than attorneys’ fees or what they might have to pay if they lose in court, just about everyone facing such legal action has opted for a settlement.

The civil trial in federal court only lasted a few days and opened with the labels providing a literal wall of data consisting of printouts, logs and Internet addresses that lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed was absolute proof that Thomas was up to no good.

As with all P2P investigations, it started with matching an Internet address with a name.

SafeNet’s Mark Weaver testified that his company, while working for the labels, discovered 1,702 songs offered for sharing by a Kazaa user going under the nom de plume “tereastarr.”

Weaver’s appearance in the witness box was followed by David Edgar of Charter Communications, Thomas’ Internet service provider. Edgar testified that he and another investigator independently matched tereastarr to both Thomas’ account and the cable modem she leased from the ISP.

But ISP matches are kind of like DMV records. Sure, you own the car, but it’s up to the prosecution to prove you were driving it when it was used as a getaway vehicle for that big bank heist.

And Brian Toder, Thomas’s lawyer, said there was no proof his client shared all those tunes.

Instead, Toder suggested that someone else, such as a neighbor, could have shared music through Thomas’ IP via a wireless router.

But that argument was quickly countered by Doug Jacobson, a computer security specialist and professor at Iowa State University, who testified that ISP records didn’t show any wireless activity.

Then there was the issue of Thomas’ computer.

Thomas and her attorney said she followed suggestions offered by Best Buy and replaced the computer after experiencing problems in 2005. But the labels claimed the computer replacement was an attempt to cover her tracks after receiving piracy notices from record companies.

Although the record labels claimed Thomas had shared 1,702 songs, the jury ordered her to pay $9,250 for each of the 24 songs the recording industry lawyers focused on.

Aside from the case being the first to actually make it to a courtroom, the ruling is also important because it could determine how much evidence is needed to prove P2P piracy. Although no one actually saw Thomas infringe upon the labels’ copyrights by distributing music via a P2P network, the recording industry evidently convinced the jury that tereastarr was the Kazaa handle for Thomas and that infringements did take place under that name.

“It is imperative for Sony BMG to combat this problem,” Sony BMG head of litigation and antipiracy Jennifer Pariser said earlier in the trial. “If we don’t, we have no business anymore.”