(Photo : flickr.com)
After her fourth court appeal, Minnesota resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset was found guilty of illegally downloading and sharing two dozen songs online and on Tuesday a jury ordered the woman to pay a significant amount of money in damages.
A United States District Court of Appeals reinstated a prior $222,000 verdict against Thomas-Rasset, denying her pleas that the damages she was ordered to pay were excessive and that the verdict violated her Constitutional right to due process, Reuters reports.
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Thomas-Rasset is one of 18,000 people that have been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) between 2003 and 2008 for downloading and distributing music from peer-to-peer music sharing sites like Kazaa. Thanks to the Copyright Act, copyright owners can go after people found illegaly downloading their music and recover damages in the neighborhood of $750 to $150,000 per illegal file.
Thomas-Rasset was first brought to task for illegally downloading over 1,000 songs in 2006 by the RIAA. The RIAA went on to sue her in 2006 over 24 songs on behalf of six major record labels. The case went to trial, Thomas-Rasset lost and was ordered to pay $222,000 in damages. The court ended up throwing out the case due to a technicality.
At the second trial on this matter, the jury awarded the record labels $1.92 million in damages. The Court, which is reported to have called this amount "shocking" went on to lower the damages to $54,000. The recording companies rejected this amount and requested a new trial. The third trial resulted in the jury awarding the record companies $1.5 million in damages. The Court held firm to its previous ruling and maintained that maximum damages allowed by due process was $54,000.
The recording companies again appealed the ruling and on Tuesday, following trial number four, a 3-judge panel reinstated the original $222,000 in damages awarded by the first jury.
Thomas-Rasset's lawyer disagreed with the verdict and vowed to continue appealing the case up to the level of the Supreme Court. The RIAA, happy with the Court's decision, said in a statement that it "looks forward to putting this case behind us."