The Thomas file-sharing retrial

By Kristopher A. Nelson
in June 2009

300 words / 2 min.
The almost two million dollar award is $80,000 per song. $80,000. Damages are supposed to be, well, damages, even if statutory. It strains belief that the record labels really were harmed to the tune of $80,000 per song, even based on wilful infringement. The jury in the retrial of Ms. Jammie Thomas-Rasset deliberated only a […]


Note: this post is from 2009. Evaluate with care and in light of later events.

The almost two million dollar award is $80,000 per song. $80,000. Damages are supposed to be, well, damages, even if statutory. It strains belief that the record labels really were harmed to the tune of $80,000 per song, even based on wilful infringement.

The jury in the retrial of Ms. Jammie Thomas-Rasset deliberated only a few hours today before concluding that she had willfully infringed the copyrights of 24 songs and awarding $1.92 million in statutory damages ($80,000 per recording) to the record label plaintiffs. The verdict represents a huge increase over the $220,000 award in the original trial, which was overturned by the judge based on a faulty jury instruction pushed by the record labels.

via Record Labels’ $1.9 Million Win in Thomas Retrial Constitutional? | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The EFF, in the article quoted above, questions whether such an award is even constitutional. I do not know enough about the arguments to have an answer on that, but I certainly have to doubt the real benefit to society of this kind of judgment – and I certainly question the level of actual damages.

But an interesting, if disturbing, point of data to add to the debate.


See also: