Mom Faces Massive File-Sharing Fines After DOJ Sides With RIAA
Justice Department prosecutors argue that Jammie Thomas' $222,000 judgment is in line with the U.S. Copyright Act.
The Minnesota mother who vowed to fight the Recording Industry Association of America after she was convicted of illegally downloading copyrighted music now has another heavyweight to contend with.
The U.S. Justice Department has sided with the RIAA and a jury's $222,000 judgment against Jammie Thomas for illegally downloading and sharing copyrighted music. The amount breaks down to $9,250 per song. The case, Capitol v. Thomas, was the first file-sharing lawsuit to make it to trial. It gained widespread attention because of that.
White PapersMore >>
Thomas vowed to fight the judgment and appealed. Her lawyer argued that the damages were too steep and that the clause in the Copyright Act violates due process because it's "severe" and out of sync with actual damages. The clause allows fines up to $150,000 per illegally downloaded song.
In a court filing, DOJ argued that the law allows penalties to be steeper than actual damages.
The agency said that the damages awarded under the Copyright Act's statutory damages provision didn't violate due process and aren't so severe and oppressive to be disproportionate to the offense or obviously unreasonable.
DOJ has asked the court not to rule on the constitutionality of the damage clause of the Copyright Act, or to rule in its favor. To support its argument, DOJ has pointed out that it's impossible to know how many times a song has been shared once it becomes available on a file-sharing site.
After the ruling in October, Thomas, a single mother who said she earns about $36,000 a year, issued a rallying cry, promising to "be a thorn in the side of record companies" for the rest of her life. She voiced her protests in a blog, her MySpace page, and in media interviews.
"I will not be bullied," she said.
Her words seemed to resonate as critics of the RIAA gathered online to show support and donated money to help cover legal costs.