updated 03:46 pm EDT, Mon March 18, 2013
Nine year old saga concludes with refusal to review previous judgements
Finally closing the door on the trial, the US Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from file sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset. As it now stands, the Minnesota woman owes the top record labels $220,000 stemming from the 2007 lawsuit finding her liable for sharing 24 songs online. Thomas-Rasset was one of two defendants who did not settle with the group, with both found to have shared the music and slapped with monumental fines for doing so.
Thomas-Rasset had her case heard by two different juries, and both juries found sufficient evidence to find her liable for sharing the songs on the long-defunct Kazaa service. Her first trial ended in October of 2007, and the record companies were awarded $220,000 in actual damages. However, the judge in the first trial issued an order indicating that there was a probable "manifest error of law" in the jury instructions, and vacated the judgement.
The retrial began on June 15, 2009, and in that trial the jury hammered Thomas-Rasset with a $1.92 million dollar actual and punitive fine. The woman's legal team filed a motion declaring that the judgement was disproportional to the actual damages, and as such, unconstitutional. In January of 2010, the judge reduced the damages to $54,000, calling the original damages "monstrous and shocking."
The RIAA then offered a $25,000 settlement to the woman, which she declined. A third trial in October of 2010 reaffirmed the $54,000 fine. The record labels then filed for an appeal.
On September 11, 2012, the appeals court decreed that the original $220,000 damage assessment was constitutional. Today's supreme court refusal of certiorari, or a judicial review, ends the saga. In a statement regarding the refusal, the RIAA said that "we appreciate the Court’s decision and are pleased that the legal case is finally over. We've been willing to settle this case from day one, and remain willing to do so" -- potentially leaving the door open for a smaller dollar amount that Thomas-Rasset will ultimately pay.