As reported by the Duluth News Tribune, U.S. District
Judge Michael J. Davis has reduced the $ 1.5 million verdict against Jammie
Thomas-Rasset, the Minnesota woman found liable for illegally sharing 24 songs
online. The award, which was reduced to $54,000 or $2,250 per song, mirrors Davis'
January 2010 remittitur.
In 2007, several recording companies sued Rasset for copyright
infringement. A jury found that Rasset wilfully infringed 24 sound recordings
and awarded $ 2 million in damages. Rasset moved for a new trial, remittitur,
and to amend or alter the judgment.
In granting a remittitur, Judge Davis stated:
The need for deterrence
cannot justify a $ 2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24
songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music. Moreover, although
Plaintiffs were not required to prove their actual damages, statutory damages
must still bear some relation to actual damages.
The Court has labored to
fashion a reasonable limit on statutory damages awards against noncommercial
individuals who illegally download and upload music such that the award of
statutory damages does not veer into the realm of gross injustice. Finding a
precise dollar amount that delineates the border between the jury's wide
discretion to calculate its own number to address Thomas-Rasset's willful
violations, Plaintiffs' far-reaching, but nebulous damages, and the need to
deter online piracy in general and the outrageousness of a $ 2 million verdict
is a considerable task. The Court concludes that setting the limit at three
times the minimum statutory damages amount in this case is the most reasoned
This award constitutes the
maximum amount a jury could reasonably award to both compensate Plaintiffs and
address the deterrence aspect of the Copyright Act. This reduced award is
significant and harsh. It is a higher award than the Court might have chosen to
impose in its sole discretion, but the decision was not entrusted to this
Court. It was the jury's province to determine the award of statutory damages
and this Court has merely reduced that award to the maximum amount that is no
longer monstrous and shocking. Capitol
Records Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, 680 F. Supp. 2d 1045 (D. Minn. 2010) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers]
in the case rejected the remittitur in favor of a new trial on damages, which
was held in November. In the new trial, jurors imposed a penalty of $62,500 per
song or $1.5 million.
subscribers can view motions
related to the 2010 remittitur.
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