Judge slashes 'monstrous' fine in music piracy case

Jan 25, 2010
A man listens to online music. Condemning a two-million-dollar fine meted out to a Minnesota woman for illegally downloading music over the Internet as "monstrous and shocking," a judge has slashed the penalty to 54,000 dollars.

Condemning a two-million-dollar fine meted out to a Minnesota woman for illegally downloading music over the Internet as "monstrous and shocking," a judge has slashed the penalty to 54,000 dollars.

US District Court Michael Davis said the fine imposed by a jury on Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a single mother of four from the town of Brainerd, veered into the "realm of gross injustice."

In a high-profile music piracy case, Thomas-Rasset was found liable in June of violating music copyrights for using the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing network to download 24 songs.

A jury ordered her to pay 1.92 million dollars -- or 80,000 dollars per song -- to six record companies: Capitol Records, Sony BMG Music, Arista Records, Interscope Records, . Records and UMG Recordings.

Davis slashed the fine to 54,000 dollars, or 2,250 dollars per recording, and complained in his ruling on Friday, a copy of which was obtained by AFP on Monday, that he was constrained from reducing it even further.

"This reduced award is significant and harsh," Davis said, but it is "no longer monstrous and shocking."

"The need for deterrence cannot justify a two million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music," Davis said

The recording companies which brought the suit have until Friday to accept the award or request a new trial.

Thomas-Rasset had been convicted previously, in October 2007, and ordered to pay 220,000 dollars in damages but the judge who presided over that trial threw out the verdict calling it "wholly disproportionate" and "oppressive."

The case was filed by the (RIAA), which has brought suit against thousands of people for illegally downloading and , with most agreeing to settlements of between 3,000 and 5,000 dollars.

Thomas-Rasset was the first among those being sued to refuse a settlement, however, and took the case to court. Her case is the only one among the thousands filed to have actually gone to trial.

In December 2008, the RIAA said it will stop suing people who download music illegally and focus instead on getting Internet Service Providers to take action.

The move away from litigation represented a major shift in strategy for the industry group, which had filed lawsuits against some 35,000 people for online since 2003.

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User comments : 7

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NeptuneAD
4.8 / 5 (6) Jan 25, 2010
When is the RIAA going to realise taking action is never going to work.

We are the people and technology has changed the way we like to do business, yes it means there isn't the huge dollars to be made by all the middle men anymore but RIAA if you don't change with us then you will end up being another middle man who has to look for work elsewhere.
Parsec
4.7 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2010
Before the RAII started this horrific scorched earth policy, I actually had some sympathy for their position. As a generator of intellectual property, I believe it not only has value, but should be protected from theft just like any other type of property.

However these tactics make me sick to my stomach. I firmly believe that the creators of the policies should be fired and the RAII apologize for its unjust actions.

Coming from a sympathetic view to a completely antagonistic one should show the RAII how utterly wrong headed it is to sue people for millions of dollars or thousands or even hundreds for file sharing. Making music more affordable and more widely available should have been their strategy from the start, instead of trying to protect their obscene profits using the legal system.
designmemetic
5 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2010
The music industry buys the law just like any other corporation or big money interest. Market capitalist will tell you it's all fine because that's how the economy works most efficiently.
CreepyD
not rated yet Jan 26, 2010
Old fashion laws and the Internet don't mix and never will.
I bet the woman didn't even realise she was sharing the files - most people I know who use these stupid file sharing programs don't realise people can access their files.
DachpyarviIe
1 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2010
most people I know who use these stupid file sharing programs don't realise people can access their files.

Like those at University of east anglia:) Good thing some people never now as we would never have uncovered the seething pit of lies and deciet that is climate science.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2010
we would never have uncovered
You are registered on 2010.0118 with a user name which resembles that of another user who registered on 2007.0924.
Just for fun or in order to get better scores?
fourthrocker
5 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2010
Slashed from monstrous to merely life ruining, what a compassionate guy. I love our justi.., LOL I was going to say justice but it isn't a justice system, it's a legal system. Justice in our legal system is an accidental byproduct that occurs all too infrequently.

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