Judge: Deterrence Cannot Justify $2 million P2P Verdict

Judge: Deterrence Cannot Justify $2 million P2P Verdict

Judge Davis of the United States District Court lowers $1.92 million verdict against Jammie Thomas, the first person convicted of illegal file-sharing in the US, from $80,000 per song to $2,250 per song, saying “statutory damages must still bear some relation to actual damages.”

In an all too surprising verdict, Judge Michael J. Davis of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota today set aside the $1.92 million verdict against Jammie Thomas, the first music-downloading case to go to trial in the United States.

If you recall, back in June 2009, the jury awarded the recording industry $1.92 million in statutory damages as a punishment for using the KaZaA file-sharing program to download 24 songs which amounted to $80,000 per song.

Judge Davis has now ruled that that amount is completely unjustified and lowered damages to $2,250 per song — three times the statutory minimum for a total of $54,000.

“The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music,” reads the ruling. “Moreover, although Plaintiffs were not required to prove their actual damages, statutory damages must still bear some relation to actual damages.”

He said he labored over the amount to avoid veering into ” realm of gross injustice,” trying to balance the Thomas’ misconduct with the RIAA’s need to deter piracy.

And he’s right. For $54,000 is still quite a bit of cash. The previous amount, $1.92 million, didn’t serve as a deterrent. It was so over the top it may as well have been $1.92 billion or trillion.

Nice to see justice finally being served for a change.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]