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

jammierassetthomas.jpg
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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15 comments
MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

What the hell was this woman thinking? I wouldn't download crap songs like that if they paid me.

Jessica Maria Hakala
Jessica Maria Hakala

What I don't understand is how this issue has gone to trial multiple times and each time the court rules in favour of the plaintiff, the award is a different sum. How much is it really worth if the value changes every time? It can't be worth 220K but ALSO be worth 460K at the same time. It doesn't make sense.

Carla Mayer
Carla Mayer

Those songs aren't even worth $2.20, crap taste in music to get busted over.

Sammy L Cater
Sammy L Cater

soooo basically anyone over the age of 28ish.... should all. go to jail or pay a fine..... because thats when it all started-- making mix tapes from music on the radio

jpinmn
jpinmn

When has ignorance of the law ever worked as excuse? You do the crime, you pay the penalty. 

Oh, to prove Miss Jammie's ignorance: most civil findings are not dismissible in bankruptcy court, they and student loans are the few things you are stuck with for life. The law is this way, so you can't just file bankruptcy after acting irresponsibly. Which is why you should have high liability coverages on your car insurance and a liability umbrella, but that's a whole other issue. 

What will likely happen is they will garnish her wages until the day she dies. They can even garnish social security. I bet she's thinking, in hindsight, the 99 cents per song would have been far more reasonable.

Jaanus Lee Damsgard
Jaanus Lee Damsgard

What about cable companies who have sold their service, years before iTunes, on the speeds which one can download music/movies? "Fast download speeds" has been a pitch for some time now. And cable companies profit off of illegal activity. Almost promoting it.

Sarah Angel Toffoli
Sarah Angel Toffoli

Maybe she should start a Kickstarter asking for donations from people who've illegally downloaded music...

Taylor Johnson
Taylor Johnson

She should have settled for the orginal 5,000 bucks they offered in 06. Stupid lady. As an budding audio engineer I say-way to go capital records. Modern Day Pirate hunters.

Todd Madson
Todd Madson

Just ridiculous. She's basically never going to have that money ever and none of that money would ever go to the artists who allegedly had been wronged anyway. How many times a day are those songs on the radio getting played? I'm an artist with music on the iTunes store but making an example out of her is stupid. It's not going to fix the issue.

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

As soon as the corporate giants stop paying the justice system not to notice.

Daniel Maurer
Daniel Maurer

Although she was wrong - and should have to pay a fine - 220K is egregious. When will the justice system see that it is rigged in favor for corporate giants?

jpinmn
jpinmn

@Jaanus Lee Damsgard I download legally paid for movies and music all the time. I don't think you know what you're saying. Download speed has nothing to do with stealing music.

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