The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the $222,000 damages award against a woman the music industry says illegally downloaded and shared music online.
The legal proceedings brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against Jammie Thomas-Rasset have been going on for six years; originally the RIAA sued Thomas-Rasset alleging she illegally downloaded over 24 songs.
The RIAA prevailed in the first trial with the jury awarding $222,000 in damages. That verdict, however, was thrown out because of an improper jury instruction.
When the case went to trial a second time, the jury again found for the RIAA, and this time awarded $1.92 million in damages. The judge lowered the damages to $54,000.
But the RIAA rejected the lowered amount of damages, and the case went to trial a third time, resulting in another jury finding for the RIAA, a damages award of $1.5 million, and a lowering of the award by the court to $54,000.
The RIAA appealed, and earlier this week, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated the $222,000 award from the original trial, finding that it was not “so severe and oppressive” as to violate Thomas-Basset’s due process rights under the Constitution.
Thomas-Basset has maintained that either her ex-boyfriend or her young children were responsible for downloading the songs in question; her attorney, Kiwi Camara, says he will likely appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately for Thomas-Basset, though, as we discussed back in May, the Supreme Court declined to review the $675,000 award Joel Tenenbaum had been ordered to pay for illegally downloading and sharing music; accordingly, there’s no guarantee that Thomas-Basset’s case will receive any further review.
What do you think of this decision?