Court orders Jammie Thomas to pay RIAA $1.92 million

Jury says defendant must pay $80,000 for each of the 24 songs she was ultimately found guilty of illegally sharing.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Legal experts now say that Jammie Thomas-Rasset may avoid paying damages to the recording industry by filing bankruptcy. Read the story here.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset now owes the RIAA $1.92 million. Jammie Thomas-Rasset

Jammie Thomas-Rasset was found guilty of willful copyright infringement on Thursday in a Minneapolis federal court and must pay the recording industry $1.92 million.

In a surprise decision, the jury imposed damages against Thomas-Rasset, who was originally accused of sharing more than 1,700 songs, at a whopping $80,000 for each of the 24 songs she was ultimately found guilty of illegally sharing.

In 2007, the Recording Industry Association of America claimed in a lawsuit that Thomas-Rasset pilfered 1,700 songs. The RIAA eventually culled that number down to a representative sample of 24.

Thomas-Rasset lost a previous trial in October 2007 when a jury rendered a $222,000 verdict against the Minnesota native. U.S. District Judge Michael David threw out the decision after acknowledging he erred when giving his jury instructions.

According to Ars Technica reporter Nate Anderson, Thomas-Rasset gasped when the dollar amount was read in court.

For the four largest recording companies, the jury's decision is an affirmation of the legality of the industry's copyright claims.

"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."

According to Ben Sheffner, a copyright advocate and former attorney for 20th Century Fox who attended the entire hearing, one of Thomas' attorneys is willing to discuss a settlement with the music industry.