Justice Department Backs Crazy $1.92 Million RIAA Verdict
As much as we support the Obama administration, they certainly aren’t perfect. And they sure aren’t going to win any fans around here by supporting ridiculously outsized RIAA lawsuits.
Back in June, we reported that a Minnesota jury had awarded the jaw-dropping sum of $1.92 million to the trade organization following their lawsuit against a woman named Jammie Thomas-Rasset. Thomas-Rasset had committed the unforgivable crime of sharing 24 songs on Kazaa. She testified that either her two young sons or her boyfriend had probably done most of the downloading, but that didn’t stop the RIAA from hitting her up for $80,000 per song.
As the Daily Online Examiner reports, the Justice Department thinks that’s totally fair.
Right now, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis, who oversaw the case, has to decide whether to declare that verdict unconstitutional. There’s some indication that he’s sympathetic toward Thomas-Rasset. As the Daily Online Examiner points out, a jury awarded the RIAA $220,000 of Thomas-Rasset’s money in 2007, Davis threw the case out. And though the reason was mistaken jury instruction, he also criticized the jury’s decision. But if he wants to throw this one out, too, the Justice Department isn’t behind him.
As CNET points out, the Justice Department filed a brief today urging Davis to reject Thomas-Rasset’s appeal to set the verdict aside. The Justice Department doesn’t want the courts messing with acts of Congress. The brief defends the law under which Thomas-Rasset was prosecuted and fined: “Congress took into account the need to deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe that they will go unnoticed.”
The brief also states, “The Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision serves both to compensate and deter. The inadequacy of actual damages and profits to compensate copyright owners is evident under the circumstances of this case. It is impossible for a copyright owner to calculate actual damages when an online media distribution system is used to distribute illegally its copyrighted sound recordings.”
Since the damages are impossible to calculate, hey, $1.92 million sounds about right, huh?
(via pf media)