One music fan out there could be paying $80,000 for a Green Day track-whether she likes it or not.
The Recording Industry Association of America won a major victory June 18 in Minnesota federal court, which ruled that Jammie Thomas-Rasset was guilty of copyright violation for downloading 24 songs using the Kazaa file-sharing network.
The court fined Thomas-Rasset $1.92 million, which translates into $80,000 per song. It represents the first time a filing-sharing case has successfully gone to trial. The downloaded artists in question included Green Day and Sheryl Crow.
"There's no way they're ever going to get that," Thomas-Rasset, who hails from Brainerd, Minn., said to the Associated Press after the verdict was announced. "I'm a mom, limited means, so I'm not going to worry about it now."
Equally convinced they'll never see that $1.92 million, the RIAA is reportedly willing to settle for the lesser amount of $3,000 to $5,000, according to the Associated Press.
A previous file-sharing trial in 2007 involving Thomas-Rasset ended with the judge declaring a mistrial, but only after the defendant was fined $9,250 for each of the 24 downloaded songs, for a total of $222,000.
The RIAA has launched more than 35,000 cases in previous years against people accused of illegal music downloads, settling them out of court for relatively small amounts of money. Over the past few years, the organization has conducted an aggressive war on digital piracy, sending dozens of letters to individuals it suspects of downloading songs over P2P networks.
The media bubble over Thomas-Rasset could soon be eclipsed by the Massachusetts case of Joel Tenenbaum, who is also being accused by the RIAA of illegally downloading songs. At the head of Tenenbaum's defense team is Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who has managed to both make the case increasingly high-profile and irritate the presiding judge by posting case details online.