updated 04:50 pm EST, Tue December 4, 2007
DoJ supports Thomas ruling
The Department of Justice has come out in support of damages awarded to the RIAA, a brief from the government body suggests. Jammie Thomas, a single mother who was successfully sued by the RIAA for sharing music on Kazaa, and was initially fined $9,250 per song for a total of $220,000. As a part of her appeal though, she challenged the constitutionality of the judgment, noting that the Copyright Act only allows statutory damages between $750 and $150,000. This, Thomas claimed, meant her punishment violated the Due Process clause of the Constitution, particularly since record labels only earn an average of 70˘ on the dollar for each track.
The RIAA replied by claiming that statutory damages do not have to be related to actual awarded amounts, and that more importantly, neither Thomas or her lawyer objected to jury instructions which allowed consideration of all possible statutory damages under the Copyright Act. In addition to supporting the above statements, the DoJ notes that statutory damages are meant to compensate losses which are less tangible, although it admits that the true extent of Thomas' file sharing is unknown.
The last point may suggest that the DoJ also agrees with the trial judge's interpretation of piracy, which is that users need only "make available" files online, rather than expressly send them to someone. [via Ars Technica]