Kazaa File-Sharer Owes Record Labels $222K

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – The 8th Circuit reinstated the $222,000 judgment against a woman who illegally shared 24 songs over the Internet.
     It had been the first of three jury decisions against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, but a federal judge in Minneapolis previously granted a new trial after concluding that the $222,000 award had been tainted by incorrect jury instructions. A second jury awarded the record labels $1.92 million, but the trial court said that award was excessive and reduced it to $54,000.
     When the record labels opted for a third trial on damages, they won $1.54 million, but again the District Court reduced it to $54,000.
     The record labels – Capitol Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Arista Records, Interscope Record, Warner Bros. Records and UMG Recordings – asked the federal appeals court to reinstate the original $222,000 award and to broaden an injunction against Thomas-Rasset.
     A three-judge panel granted both requests Tuesday, rejecting a cross-appeal from Thomas-Rasset who said any award of statutory damages would be unconstitutional.
     “The evidence against Thomas-Rasset demonstrated an aggravated case of willful infringement by an individual consumer who acted to download and distribute copyrighted recordings without profit motive,” Judge Steven Colloton wrote for the court. “If an award near the bottom of the statutory range is unconstitutional as applied to her infringement of twenty-four works, then it would be the rare case of noncommercial infringement to which the statute could be applied.”
     The injunction against Thomas-Rasset is also too narrow, the court found.
     “Thomas-Rasset’s willful infringement and subsequent efforts to conceal her actions certainly show ‘a proclivity for unlawful conduct,'” Colloton wrote. “The recording companies rightly point out that once Thomas-Rasset makes copyrighted works available on an online media distribution system, she has completed all of the steps necessary for her to engage in the same distribution that the court did enjoin. The record also demonstrates the practical difficulties of detecting actual transfer of recordings to third parties even when a party has made large numbers of recordings available for distribution online. The narrower injunction granted by the district court thus could be difficult to enforce.”
     Judges Diana Murphy and Michael Melloy concurred with Colloton.

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