Youâ€™ve all heard the news by now. Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a 32-year-old woman from Brainerd, Minnesota was found guilty of downloading music illegally on peer to peer networks. The court fined her a crazy amount of $80,000 per song she downloaded. Summing that all up, her total fine is a ginormous $1.9m! I donâ€™t think that anyone (unless youâ€™re Bill Gates) will have that kind of money, do you?
Thomas-Rasset holds the distinction of being the only person charged with file-sharing issues to go to court. There have been others who have been charged, of course, but most of them settled before the case could be heard. In Thomas-Rassetâ€™s case, she was tried in 2007 and fined a lower amount. Following the result of that initial trial, the defendant wrote a brief that was able to persuade the judge to hold a re-trial. The point was something about the jury not being given the right instructions. Unfortunately for the defendant, the second trial ended worse than the first one; much worse; about a million times worse.
Obviously, there is something not quite right here. She may have been guilty of downloading songs illegally, but is (almost) $2m the right amount that she should pay? Heck, each of the songs she downloaded probably costs about a dollar on iTunes!
Perhaps the jury is trying to make a point here. After all, it was not the judge nor the music industry that requested for the amount. It was all in the juryâ€™s hands. Maybe Thomas-Rasset pissed them off.