Court Reduces Award In Jammie Thomas-Rasset Case From $80,000 Per Song To $2,250

from the and-so-it-goes dept

It looks like the judge who oversaw the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case realized that the original $1.92 million award was just ridiculous -- even if the Justice Department supported it. Instead, the court has reduced the award to $2,250 per song, saying that seems much more reasonable:
The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music. Moreover, although Plaintiffs were not required to prove their actual damages, statutory damages must still bear some relation to actual damages
While I question the use of "stealing" here, and still think that $2,250 seems pretty high (even the judge admits that if he weren't reducing the amount from the jury and had been able to set the amount originally, he probably would have gone even lower), this case had all sorts of problems from the start -- with tremendous evidence (well beyond just an IP address) that Jammie was, in fact, doing a fair amount of file sharing. Her defense and attempted reasoning were weak and not at all helpful. This seems like a case where she would be better off paying this off (somehow) and moving on.

It's now in the hands of the record labels if they'll accept this or if they want to have a new trial concerning damages. Again, for them, this might be a situation where they're best off accepting it and moving on. The original $80,000 damages got the labels a ton of bad press, with even the musicians whose music was shared speaking out against the case and other musicians arguing it was a reason to disband the RIAA.

Update: suggests both sides might appeal. The interesting part is from the labels who, like I suggested above, do want to just bury this story and have the case be over with -- but might be worried about setting a precedent allowing a judge to lower a jury award.

Filed Under: appeal, constitution, copyright, jammie thomas, statutory damages

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2010 @ 1:33pm

    What really happened? Selective enforcement based on PR?

    A $2M judgement is typically uncollectable to a general layperson, and would have pushed Jammie Thomas-Rassert into a state of welfare and/or public assistance. It doesn't change the fact that what she did was wrong. But I wonder what caused such change and reduction in fines. Considering the timeframe, it's possible that the request came from the RIAA and/or other plaintiffs, who may have suffered internal backlash from artists that desired to produce outside of the traditional label system. Did they then lobby the Court for a reduction like they lobby everyone else for reinforcement?

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