File Sharing Mom Ordered To Pay $1.5 Million - InformationWeek

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File Sharing Mom Ordered To Pay $1.5 Million

RIAA applauds jury's decision in third trial of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Minnesota mother of four who illegally downloaded 24 songs.

A Minnesota woman was ordered to pay $1.5 million for illegally downloading 24 songs, in her third trial in three years. The verdict was hailed by the record industry as justified.

A federal court jury on Wednesday ordered Jammie Thomas-Rasset to pay $62,500 for each of the two-dozen songs she downloaded using the Kazaa file-sharing program. The trial was the third for the mother of four children who has been battling the record industry since 2006, when it filed its first lawsuit.

The jury decision was applauded by the Recording Industry Association of America, which in January had offered to settle for $25,000. Thomas-Rasset refused, leading the RIAA to push for the latest trial.

"We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognized the severity of the defendant's misconduct," the RIAA said in a statement. Now with three jury decisions behind us along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset's willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions."

Thomas-Rasset's first trial, in 2007, ended with a jury ordering her to pay $222,000 in damages. However, Michael Davis, chief judge for the U.S. District Court in Minnesota, later ordered a new trial, saying he had made mistakes in instructions given to jurors.

The second trial, in June 2009, ended far worse for Thomas-Rasset, when a jury ordered her to pay $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song. Davis reduced in January what he called a "monstrous and shocking" award to $54,000. The RIAA later made its $25,000 offer.

Thomas-Rasset has argued that the recording industry has not proved it suffered serious damages from her actions, and claims that she was singled out from the millions of people illegally downloading music in order for the industry to set her up as an example.

The RIAA claims that more than 1,700 songs were found in Thomas-Rasset's shared folder on the Kazaa network, but the industry decided to only sue on 24 of those songs. In addition, the RIAA points out that Thomas-Rasset "flatly rejected" its settlement offer.

The RIAA over the years has brought more than 30,000 lawsuits against people it claimed had illegally downloaded music. Most of those suits were settled for $3,500, and the RIAA has recently changed tactics, opting to encourage carriers and ISPs to seek ways to block illegal music downloads.

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