"Download martyr" Jammie Thomas-Rasset out of legal options; $220,000 judgment stands

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Back in 2011, Thomas-Rasset (at right) told us she viewed the RIAA's lawsuit as "a shakedown" and "extortion."
After eight years of twists and turns, it appears Jammie Thomas-Rasset's legal drama is at an end. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review her case, meaning a $220,000 judgement against the Brainerd woman stands.

SEE ALSO: Recording Industry Association of America responds to City Pages cover story

Thomas-Rasset, the so-called "download martyr" who was the subject of a City Pages cover feature back in February 2011, was sued in 2005 by a group of large music labels for illegally downloading a set of songs including Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me," Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," Richard Marx's "Now and Forever," and Green Day's "Basket Case." As we told you about in some of our followup coverage, the penalty in her case has fluctuated wildly from ruling to ruling -- from $220,000 to $1.92 million to $54,000 to $1.5 million back to $54,000 and then finally back to $220,000 thanks to a U.S. Court of Appeals decision.

Computerworld details what's next for Thomas-Rasset now that the Supreme Court has opted not to weigh in on her case:
The decision means that Thomas-Rasset will either have to find a way to pay the money or negotiate to reduce the amount with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade body representing the music industry in the case...

At this point, Thomas-Rasset can either do nothing and let the RIAA try to collect what it can, file bankruptcy to discharge the debt, or settle...

The decision marks the second time that the nation's highest court has declined to review a music piracy case involving a huge fine. Last May, the court declined to hear a similar petition filed by Joel Tenenbaum, a former doctoral student at Harvard University who was hit with a $675,000 fine for music piracy.
"We appreciate the Court's decision and are pleased that the legal case is finally over," an RIAA spokeswoman told Computerworld. "We've been willing to settle this case from day one and remain willing to do so."

Meanwhile, Thomas-Rasset, a 35-year-old employee of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government who has four kids and an unemployed husband, said there's no way she can pony up the $220,000.

"As I've said from the beginning, I do not have now, nor do I anticipate in the future, having $220,000 to pay this," she said in an e-mail to Wired. "If they do decide to try and collect, I will file for bankruptcy as I have no other option."

We'll go out on a limb and say $220,000 is the most anyone will ever be asked to pay for tunes by Def Leppard, Journey, Richard Marx, and Green Day.


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