Copyright Law

In 3rd Music-Download Trial Replay, Minn. Woman Is Hit with $1.5M Verdict; $62,500 Per Song


As the Bill Murray character experienced in the movie Groundhog Day, those who can’t seem to get it right may have to relive the same day again and again until they do. For a Minnesota woman, that has been happening in real life in a music-downloading lawsuit.

In the third trial on damages in the same copyright violation case, Jammie Thomas-Rasset has now been hit with a $1.5 million federal jury verdict, which averages out to about $62,500 for each of the 24 copyrighted songs she was found to have pirated. She is expected to appeal the verdict on constitutional grounds and argue that the amount is excessive to impose on an individual, CNET News reports.

In two earlier trials, she was held liable for $222,000 and $1.92 million. However, the latter verdict was reduced by a federal judge in Minnesota to $54,000. Thomas-Rasset rejected a subsequent offer by the Recording Industry Association of America to settle for $25,000 if she agreed to ask the judge to vacate his decision and thus eliminate it from the record, the news agency recounts.

At that point, the RIAA asked for and got a new trial on damages, explains a Law & Disorder blog post about what even Chief District Judge Michael Davis referred to as a “Groundhog Day” trial at the outset of the latest replay.

A bad jury instruction derailed the first verdict for $222,000, the blog post notes.

Hat tip: Switched

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Music Downloader Appeals $67.5K Award, Calls It ‘Equally as Insane’ as Earlier $675K Verdict”

Computerworld: “Third jury fines Minnesota woman $1.5M for pirating 24 songs‎”

Threat Level (Wired): “Jury Dings File Sharer $1.5 Million for 24 Songs”

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