What do these figures have in common? 4,500, 222,000, 1,920,000, 54,000, 1,500,000, 54,000, 222,000? Well, they are all dollar sums of money firstly offered as a settlement and then awarded as damages in the US courts against Jammie Thomas-Rassett for file sharing music online. The first sum is the settlement offered to Rasset-Thomas by the Recording Industry Association of America for illegal file sharing. The second sum of $222,000 is the initial award the court made against Thomas-Rassett for illegally sharing 24 songs. That case resulted in a re-trial and the two biggest sums represent subsequent jury awards, and the two awards of $54,000 represent judicial adjustments of those awards. The final sum is the sum decided upon by a three judge appellate court, rejecting Rassett-Thomas’ argument that that the award was excessive and violated her right to due process under the US Constitution. Judge Steven Colloton, giving the unanimous decision for the 8th Circuit, said that the award of $222,000 was “not so severe and oppressive” to violate the Constitution.
In a separate case, in August the 1st Circuit reinstated a $675,000 judgment against Joel Tenenbaum, a former Boston University student, for 30 charges of illegal downloading. That ruling reversed a trial judge’s decision to reduce the award to $67,500.Tenenbaum appealed that case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Copyright Act was never meant to be applied to individual consumers. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case in May, allowing the 1st Circuit decision to stand although Tenenbaum’s attorney, Charles Nesson, plans a further appeal.
Capitol Records Inc et al v. Thomas-Rasset, No. 11-2820.