A Minnesota District Court judge has significantly slashed the $1.92 million fine against Minnesota mom Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who was sued by the RIAA after illegally downloading 24 songs through peer-to-peer networks. In a decision announced today, Judge Michael Davis found that the decision to fine Thomas-Rasset's $80,000 per song was "simply shocking" and downright unconstitutional. Davis then sliced the penalty to $2,250 per song for a grand total of $54,000 — a 97 percent drop from the previous sentence, Copyrights & Campaigns reports. The major labels named as plaintiffs in the case now have seven days to decide whether to accept this fine or let Thomas-Rasset go to trial for a third time.
It's been a long, hard-fought legal battle for Thomas-Rasset. The initial trial in 2007 resulted in a $212,000 fine, and after her legal team uncovered an error in jury instruction in the first trial, Thomas-Rasset's case went to trial once again last year, only this time the jury levied the immense $1.92 million decision against her. That ruling went straight to the Justice Department, who defended the $1.92 million fine, arguing that "the defendant's suggestion that the actual harm can be measured to the 'tune of $1.29 for each of the 24 songs' â€¦ ignores the potential multiplying effect of peer-to-peer file-sharing."
The RIAA argued that Thomas-Rasset's massive penalty would serve as a cautionary tale for would-be illegal downloaders, but maintained a willingness to negotiate. Richard Marx, who was one of the artists Thomas-Rasset downloaded on the peer-to-peer network, said he was "ashamed" that he was involved in the excessive punishment and called the $1.92 million fine against the Minnesota mom "misguided and at worst, farcical."
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