Minnesota Woman To Pay $222,000 In Music Piracy Case

A federal court has ordered a Minnesota woman to pay $222,000 in damages in a music piracy case, Reuters reports.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset argued that the fine — $9,250 per song — was excessive and violated her right to due process. The US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her claim.

Thomas-Rasset is one of 18,000 people the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) sued between 2003-2008 in an attempt to end music piracy under the Copyright Act. The act allows copyright owners to recover damages from $750 to $150,000 for each infringed work.

Thomas-Rasset was initially accused of downloading more than 1,700 songs, but the RIAA instead sued her on behalf of six record labels for just 24 songs in 2006. She said her ex-boyfriend or two sons were probably responsible for the illegal downloading.

The Minnesota woman lost her first trial in district court in 2007 when the fine was initially imposed, but the the verdict was thrown out because of faulty jury instruction. In her second trial, the jury awarded the record labels $1.92 million in damages, but the court reduced the amount to $54,000.

The six record labels won $1.5 million after exercising their right to a new trial, but the court lowered that amount to $54,000 as well. The labels appealed, but a three judge panel reinstated the original $222,000 fine.

Judge Steven Colloton wrote that the $222,000 was not “so severe and oppressive” as to violate the Constitution but that the amount was on the low end of what had been established by the Copyright Act.

Kiwi Camara, one of Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s lawyers, said the damages were “punitive” and would appeal his client’s case to the Supreme Court.