The US Justice Department said it is perfectly constitutional to wallop people who fileshare with fines that are out of proportion to the value of the content they steal.
According to a filing from the DoJ, Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s $1.9 million verdict for filesharing 24 songs was fair enough.
Under the Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision, the jury could have ordered damages – anywhere from $750 to $30,000 for standard violations and from $30,000 to $150,000 for “willful violations.”
Of course when you are talking about a product which is worth $1 then even the lowest award is 750 times more than that.
The Justice Department first attacks the defendant’s reliance on the famous BMW v. Gore case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down a jury’s punitive damages award, finding that at 100 times actual damages the verdict violated due process.
It said that case was never intended to apply. Since the actual damages were so small there was no deterrence involved to put a wrongdoer off.
Justice says the constitutional issue of high damage need never be talked about and Thomas-Rasset just needs to start writing the check to the record companies.