Some time ago, we wrote of Jammie Thomas (now Jammie Thomas-Rasset) and her attorney, Kiwi Camara (still Kiwi Camara), who are locked in apparently unending combat with Capitol Records, Inc. et al. As the reader may remember, in October 2007 Ms. Thomas-Rasset was found guilty of illegally – and willfully – downloading 24 songs (see previous blogs, The Cost Of Free Music and Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t). The jury awarded the plaintiffs damages of $9,250 per song, for a total of $222,000. The Court set aside that verdict in September 2008, having decided that it had given an improper jury instruction regarding damages.
In 2009 a new trial was held solely on the issue of damages. This time, the jury awarded $80,000 per song, for a total of $1.92 million. Ms. Thomas-Rasset sought a reduction of the damages award on common law and constitutional grounds. The Court offered the plaintiffs the choice of accepting judgment in the amount of $50K or trying the issue of damages yet again. The plaintiffs chose the latter option.
In round three, the jury awarded damages in the amount of $62,500 per song, for a total of $1.5 million. That brings us to the present.
Attorney Camara continues to argue that the proper measure of damages is 99 cents per song (total of $23.76) and is once again appealing this award as being unconstitutional. The plaintiffs have offered to settle the matter for a $25,000 donation to a musicians’ charity. Their offer was rejected.
All of the damages awards were within the statutory limits of $750 to $150,000 per song so, in effect, Mr. Camara is seeking to have the statute declared unconstitutional. We can’t wait to see how well that flies.
The plaintiff and her attorney appear to be out of luck. Still, some part of me wishes they would take this case on appeal as far as they can, because I'd love to see the statute tested for its constitutionality -- by the SCOTUS, if possible. It should seem completely ridiculous to any sane person that a consumer would be required to pay millions of dollars as punishment for downloading 24 songs for free.