A Minnesota judge orders the reduction of mother of four Jammie Thomas-Rasset's fine by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to about $54,000, down from $1.92 million a jury previously awarded the organization.
The Recording Industry Association of America, the music organization that
in June 2009 won a lawsuit against a Minnesota
woman for allegedly downloading 24 songs, had its original fine of $1.92 million
reduced by Minnesota federal
judge Michael Davis. According to the ruling, the original penalty imposed by a
jury on Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four and a Brainard, Minn.,
resident, will be reduced to about $54,000, or $2,250 per song.
Davis ruled the original
judgment to be a "monstrous and shocking" figure to pay-the nearly $2 million
penalty represented a fee of more than $83,000 per song.
"It's easier for me to wrap my brain around $54,000 than $1.92
million," Thomas-Rasset told
Minnesota Public Radio. "Obviously, I
still won't be able to come up with 54 grand to pay this off. But that's a
decision that I, right at this moment, I still don't have to make."
In writing the court opinion, Davis
said the fine could not be justified despite acknowledging a need for
deterrence of illegal downloading and sharing of music.
In a phone interview with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune newspaper, Thomas-Rasset
while any reduction was
a good development, she still plants to appeal the decision and has claimed to
be innocent since the trial's start. "As far as I'm concerned, I don't
have $50,000 to hand over," she told the paper. "But I'm not going to worry
about that until everything is set in stone."
In October 2007, Davis presided
over the case of Capitol v. Thomas
The RIAA, a trade group of recording companies, filed suit against Thomas-Rasset
(then just Thomas) for copyright infringement for 24 songs that she had shared
on Kazaa, including tracks by artists such as Aerosmith, Green Day and Janet
Jackson. The file-sharing trial, in which the defendant was fined $9,250 for
each of the 24 downloaded songs, for a total of $222,000, ended with the judge
declaring a mistrial, and the new trial granted $1.92 million in damages.
The RIAA has launched more than 35,000 cases against people accused of
illegal music downloads, with the substantial bulk of them settled out of court,
often for comparatively miniscule amounts of money. Despite the ubiquity of
peer-to-peer networks, the RIAA has taken something of a scorched-earth
approach to digital piracy, sending dozens of letters to individuals it
suspects of downloading content.