Do you remember the hoopla that surfaced in 2006 when Jamie Thomas was sued by Capitol Records for illegally downloading 24 songs for her personal use? Were you wondering what happened to her? ANSWER: she’s been in and out of court this whole time… and last week a District Court Judge drastically reduced the damages awarded to the record company on a constitutional basis.
The Story: Ms. Jamie Thomas illegally downloaded 24 songs on Kazaa (for her personal use) and was sued by Capitol Records. After Capitol Records sued Ms. Jamie Thomas for illegally downloading 24 songs that they own…. a copyright controversy swelled when the jury awarded damages of $222,000 ($9,250 per song) for Jamie’s infringement. The media continued to follow the case as it moved in and out of court and the damages awarded to Capitol Records for Jamie’s copyright violation shifted upward from $222,000 ($9,250 per song) to 1,920,000 ($80,000 per song) and back down to $1,500,000 ($62,500 per song).
Last week, a District Court Judge reduced the damages awarded by the jury to Capitol Records from $1,500,000 ($62,500 per song) to $54,000 ($2,250 per song). The judge’s opinion stats that the reduced award is ‘substantial’, ‘acts as a potent deterrent’ and is the ‘maximum amount permitted under the Constitution.’ The court reasoned that awarded damages are unconstitutional when they violate due process for being severe, oppressive and obviously unreasonable. (It’s rare for a court to reduce statutory damages.)
What happens now? This decision could be appealed again by either side.
The decision can be read at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/60635512/Order-on-Motions-to-Amend-Alter-Verdict-in-Capitol-v-Thomas-Rasset also see, http://www.copyhype.com
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.