updated 11:50 pm EDT, Mon July 6, 2009
Thomas fights RIAA damages
Following an unsuccessful legal battle against the RIAA, Jammie Thomas-Rasset has asked a federal court for a new trial or a reduction of the $1.92 million in damages she was recently ordered to pay, according to CNET News. The defense lawyers have argued that the recent judgment is disproportionate to the crime, with approximately $80,000 placed on each of the 24 copyrighted songs she is accused of illegally sharing.
"Such a judgment is grossly excessive and, therefore, subject to remittitur as a matter of federal common law," the defendant's attorneys argue. "Moreover, such a judgment is inconsistent with the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution."
The first trial resulted in damages totaling $222,000, although the decision was later thrown out. Jurors for the second trial added another $1.7 million, driving Thomas to publicly refuse to pay the damages. The RIAA allegedly offered to settle the first suit for $25,000. After learning of the appeal, the RIAA claimed Thomas was to blame for "needlessly prolonging" the case and refusing to accept responsibility.
Despite the public refusal, Thomas reportedly is willing to pay an adjusted settlement of just $18,000. "No one could have expected $1.92 million for 24 songs. That alone justifies remittitur; at a minimum, Mrs. Thomas should not be subjected to a penalty that no reasonable person could have expected would flow from the noncommercial music sharing of which she stands convicted," the filing reads.
The attorneys argue the statutory-damage framework in the Copyright Act does not sufficiently separate personal-use infringement from commercial violations intended to generate profits. Thomas now waits for the court to review the retrial requests, although the attorneys still have time to file for an appeal.