A central Minnesota woman ordered to pay $1.92 million for illegally sharing copyright-protected music is asking a federal judge to reduce the damages she must pay or grant a new trial, while the recording industry is taking steps to make sure she doesn't share music again.
Last month, a federal jury ruled Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 32, willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs, and that she must pay $80,000 per song. In documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court, attorney Kiwi Camara argued this amount is "grossly excessive."
Camara asked that the court either remove the statutory damages from the judgment, order that the damages be reduced to the statutory minimum — which would result in a total award of $18,000 — or grant a new trial altogether.
"The plaintiffs did not even attempt to offer evidence of their actual injuries, seeking, instead, an award of statutory damages entirely for purposes of punishment and deterrence," Camara wrote, adding that the $1.92 million figure "shocks the conscience and must be set aside."
He also wrote that civil penalties must relate to a defendant's own conduct and the injury she caused to the plaintiffs. Instead, he said, it seems the damages were awarded not because what Thomas-Rasset did, but because of "the widespread and generalized problem of illegal music downloading."
Camara wrote that if a new trial isn't ordered, Thomas-Rasset would appeal based on evidence he argued should not have been allowed at trial.
This case was the only one of more than 30,000 similar lawsuits to make it all the way to trial. The vast majority of people targeted by the music industry had settled for about $3,500 each. The recording industry has said it stopped filing such lawsuits last August and is instead working with Internet service providers to fight the worst offenders.