MINNEAPOLIS (CBS/AP) $1.5 million. That's the amount a federal jury ruled Wednesday that Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a Minnesota mom who shared music on the Internet, must pay the world's four largest record companies.
Is that fair? According to her legal team, no.
Her attorneys argue that the award is not in line with actual harm suffered.
Thomas-Rasset was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for pirating music. Since then, she has been told by three separate juries that she must pay the recording industry for willfully violating the copyrights of 24 songs.
But unlike most of the more than 30,000 other targets of RIAA pirating lawsuits, Thomas-Rasset fought back. Her case was the first of its kind to go to trial. In 2007 she lost. A jury awarded $222,000 to the RIAA, but the judge threw out the verdict because he believed he gave incorrect instructions to the jury.
That led to a second trial. Thomas-Rasset lost again. This time the jury ordered her to pay a whopping $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song.
A third jury said Wednesday she should pay $1.5 million.
One of her attorneys, Kiwi Camara, said Thursday that she won't pay, and he plans to argue that the statute allowing such high damages for copyright violations is unconstitutional.
The Recording Industry Association of America says it hopes Thomas-Rasset accepts responsibility for her actions.
Experts are divided on what the case means to the music industry. The heavy-handed verdict could intimidate those who share music online or create a negative backlash against an industry that is offering paid downloads as an alternative to swapping music for free.
But for now, a word to the wise: If you share your music online, perhaps you should start saving now.