Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

$2m file-sharing fine slashed to $54,000

Steven Tyler, AP
Ms Thomas was accused of pirating 24 tracks, including one by Aerosmith

An American woman told to pay $2m (£1.23m) for sharing 24 songs over the internet has had her fine slashed.

Following an appeal, Jammie Thomas-Rasset has now been ordered to pay the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) $54,000 (£33,420).

The judge who reduced the fine said the original multi-million dollar claim by the industry body was "monstrous".

Ms Thomas said her legal team was looking at ways to get the fine reduced even more.

"Whether it's $2m or $54,000, I'm a mom with four kids and one income and we're not exactly rolling in that kind of dough right now," she said.

Shocking

The RIAA first took legal action against Ms Thomas in 2007. She was accused of pirating almost 2,000 tracks but the record companies sought damages for only 24 of them.

The pirated songs included tracks by Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Green Day and Gloria Estefan. Found guilty, Ms Thomas was ordered to pay damages of $200,000.

Ms Thomas was re-tried in 2009 following mistakes made during the initial case. She was found guilty again and told to pay $1.92m.

Ms Thomas appealed against the damages claim resulting in a reduced fine.

"The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2m verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music," wrote Judge Michael Davis who heard the appeal.

US law allows recording companies to ask for damages of between $750 and $30,000 for each song illegally downloaded. This can be raised by a jury to as much as $150,000 if it believes the piracy was wilful.

"It was the jury's province to determine the award ...and this Court has merely reduced that award to the maximum amount that is no longer monstrous and shocking," he added.

Judge Davis denied Ms Thomas' request for a re-trial and told the RIAA it had seven days in which to accept the change or ask for a new trial to set new damages.

The RIAA said it was "analysing" the Judge's decision and would respond in due course.



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