RIAA Victim’s $1.92 Million Fine Reduced to $54,000

The weirdness continues as Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s music copyright infringement fines are lowered by Judge Michael Davis. Thomas was the first individual to be tried (Capitol v. Thomas) before a jury in a file-sharing copyright lawsuit by major record labels, with the original case taking place in 2007 for illegally downloading 24 songs.

The damages of that original case came to $222,000 but Thomas was retried in 2009 due to an error in jury instructions. The second trial brought the damages up to a bloated $1,920,000—obviously the RIAA was giving the jury instructions this time around.

Ms. Thomas appealed against the $2 million damages claim, resulting in Judge Davis’s reassessment saying, “It was the jury’s province to determine the award… and this Court has merely reduced that award to the maximum amount that is no longer monstrous and shocking.” That new award was set at a still-shocking $54,000, and the RIAA was given a week by the court to challenge that reduced verdict.

The ultimate artifice in all of this comes from the announcement that any damages awarded to the RIAA will not go to the artists whose music was downloaded, but instead to more anti-piracy campaigns; a final “fuck you” to consumers and musicians across the US.

For those interested in the full chronology and details of the case, check out the heavily referenced Wikipedia page.