Judge reduces Jammie Thomas’ file-sharing penalty to $54,000

Jammie Thomas-Rasset

A federal court has reduced the damages award against the Jammie Thomas-Rasset from $62,500 for each song she’s accused of sharing over peer-to-peer networks to $2,250 per song, bringing the total penalties against Thomas Rasset from $1.5 million to $54,000. Judge Michael Davis — who has presided over many incarnations of the case, wrote in his decision: “The Court concludes that an award of $1.5 million for stealing and distributing 24 songs for personal use is appalling. Such an award is so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable. “

The decision was noted by lawyer Benn Sheffner, who posted a copy of the order to Scribd.

Thomas-Rasset’s case got started in 2006 when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) began suing individuals it believes were sharing music files over peer-to-peer file sharing networks like Limewire and Gnutella—in Thomas-Rassett’s case, it was the P2P service Kazaa. Thomas-Rasset refused to settle with the RIAA; ultimately, she was found guilty of copyright infringement and a jury awarded $1.5 million in damages.

Judge Davis’s order is the second time he has lowered damage awards in the case: Davis similarly reduced a $2 million judgement to $54,000 back in 2010. He arrived at that figure by taking the minimum $750 penalty for infringement and tripling it, due to juries finding Thomas-Rasset’s infringement “willful.”

Over the years, the RIAA filed more than 30,000 lawsuits against alleged file-sharers in an effort to combat music piracy. The majority of people accused of file-sharing reached a settlement with the RIAA, with an average payment of about $3,500.

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