Jury Hits File-Sharer with $1.92 Million in Damages

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal jury ruled Thursday that a Minnesota woman must pay a staggering $1.92 million to four record companies for illegal file sharing.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset was charged with "willfully violated copyrights" of 24 songs, and hit with damages of $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song.

This was Thomas-Rasset's second trial after losing the first in 2007, when she was told to pay a $222,000 judgment. The new trial came about when a judge said he had erred in jury instructions. It seems she should have settled for what happened the first time around.

As ArsTechnica reports, the defendant was shocked by the amount, her eyes wide.

Thomas-Rasset was accused by Capitol Records and other labels of downloading and distributing more than 1,700 songs using the file-sharing service Kazaa. Employing defenses that ranged from wireless hijacking to a suggestion that downloads were made by family members, she never admitted guilt.

Lead defense attorney Kiwi Camara told reporters the escalated damages, which he said should have been perhaps $750 per song, grew because the jury was likely angry and saw Thomas-Rasset as a liar. He plans to press for a class-action lawsuit against the recording industry to recover money it has taken from those charged with illegal downloading or uploading.

The RIAA said it has always wanted to settle the case. The massive award is seen more as an example than money it actually expects to collect from Thomas-Rasset, who isn't wealthy in the least, according to Associated Press.

"There's no way they're ever going to get that," Thomas-Rasset told reporters after the verdict was announced, adding it would be "like squeezing blood from a turnip."