06 November 2010

Minnesota Mom Hit With $1.5 Million Fine for Downloading 24 Songs

What's the value of a song? Jammie Thomas-Rasset has spent the last few years in court debating that question. The Minnesota mother of four is being penalized for illegally downloading and sharing 24 songs on the peer-to-peer file-sharing network Kazaa in 2006, but how much she owes the record labels has been in question. The jury in her third trial has just ruled that Thomas-Rasset should pay Capitol Records $1.5 million, CNET reports, which breaks down to $62,500 per song. It's a heavy penalty considering the 24 tunes would only cost approximately $24 on iTunes, which was Thomas-Rasset' argument, too.

Thanks to Thomas-Rasset's colorful case, she has become the public face of the record industry's battle with illegal downloaders. In her first trial, in 2007, the jury demanded she pay $222,000 for violating the copyright on more than 1,700 songs by Green Day, Aerosmith and Richard Marx, to name a few. (Marx said he was "ashamed" to be associated with the "farcical" prosecution of an illegal downloader.) Thomas-Rasset maintained she wasn't the computer user who did the file sharing, and her legal team cited an error in jury instruction to secure a second trial in 2009 that ended with a much harsher result: an astronomical fine of $1.92 million. However, earlier this year a U.S. District Court judge found the $1.92 million penalty against Thomas-Rasset to be "monstrous and shocking" and "gross injustice" before lowering it to $54,000, or $2,250 a song. Thomas-Rasset and her legal team decided to appeal that decision, too.

Read more here.


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