In 2007 a jury slapped the single mother with a $222,000 verdict in her case against the RIAA, which she later appealed. When the case between Thomas-Rasset and the RIAA was declared a mistrial last year, the judge ruled that the fines were “disproportionate to the damages suffered.”
The case went up for re-trial before a new jury, who found her guilty and surprisingly handed out even harsher fines than in the first trial. Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay $80,000 per infringement mounting up to a total of $1.92 million in fines.
Thomas-Rasset, like many others, couldn’t believe her ears when the court read out the verdict, and later said that it was “kind of ridiculous”.
Unlike most people, Thomas-Rasset never opted to settle with the RIAA, determining that she had the law on her side. Unfortunately for her the jury in this landmark case ruled she did not.
“We appreciate the jury’s service and that they take this issue as seriously as we do,” said Cara Duckworth, an RIAA spokeswoman. “We are pleased that the jury agreed with the evidence and found the defendant liable. Since day 1, we have been willing to settle the case and remain willing to do so.”
In the US juries can hand out fines up to an unbelievable $150,000 per infringement on a single song. The average settlement in related RIAA cases is around $3000, which is peanuts considering this recent verdict. In this light many people might be inclined to settle with the RIAA even when they don’t even own a computer.
How’s that for a business model?