Judge cuts $2M penalty in Minn. song-sharing case

A federal judge on Jan. 22 drastically reduced a nearly $2 million verdict against a Minnesota woman found guilty last year of sharing 24 songs over the internet, calling the jury’s penalty “monstrous and shocking,” reports the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis reduced the $1.92 million penalty a jury imposed against Jammie Thomas-Rasset to $2,250 per song, or about $54,000. “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,” Davis wrote. He also denied Thomas-Rasset’s request for a new trial. He gave the Recording Industry Association of America seven days to either accept the smaller penalty or to ask for another trial to set new damages. Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the RIAA, said the group’s attorneys were still analyzing the ruling and would have no immediate comment. Under federal law, the recording companies are entitled to $750 to $30,000 per illegally downloaded song—but the law allows the jury to raise that to as much as $150,000 per track if it finds the infringements were willful. That has led to other large verdicts, including one against Rhode Island graduate student Joel Tenenbaum, who last year was fined $675,000 for downloading and distributing 30 songs. His lawyers are seeking a new trial or reduced damages…

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