Judge Reduces Award in Jammie Thomas-Rasset Filesharing Case

On Friday, the court reduced the damages in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset filesharing case from $80,000 per song to $2,250 per song. The total now stands at $53,000 which is much less than the the jury awarded. Here is what Judge Michael Davis had to say at page 15:

Although Plaintiffs highlight valid reasons that Thomas‐Rasset must pay a statutory damages award, these facts simply cannot justify a $2 million verdict in this case. Thomas‐Rasset was not a business acting for profit. Instead, she was an individual consumer illegally seeking free access to music for her own use. Congress set a high maximum for statutory damages in order to ensure that damages awards could be large enough to outweigh the potential gain from infringing. As the Court noted in its September 2008 Order, in the case of commercial actors, the potential gain in revenues is enormous and enticing to potential infringers. In the case of individuals who infringe by using peer‐to‐peer networks, the potential gain from infringement is access to free music, not the possibility of hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars in profits. 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.

It will be very interesting to see if this reasoning is applied in future copyright statutory damages rulings.

A copy of the Order can be found at Copyrights and Campaigns


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