NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Native American Minnesotan found by a jury to have downloaded 24 mp3 files of RIAA singles, has filed a petition for certioriari to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the award of $220,000 in statutory damages is excessive, in violation of the Due Process Clause. Her petition (PDF) argued that the RIAA's litigation campaign was "extortion, not law", and pointed out that "[a]rbitrary statutory damages made the RIAA’s litigation campaign possible; in turn,that campaign has inspired copycats like the so-called Copyright Enforcement Group; the U.S. Copyright Group, which has already sued more than 20,000 individual movie downloaders; and Righthaven, which sued bloggers. This Court should grant certiorari to review this use of the federal courts as a scourge"."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "In SONY v Tenenbaum, the new District Judge assigned to the case has disagreed with the previous judge, and instead of reducing the $22,500 per file award to $2250 per file, has instead upheld the jury's verdict. The jury initially found defendant Joel Tenenbaum to have "willfully" infringed the RIAA copyrights by downloading 30 mp3 files which would normally retail for 99 cents each, and awarded the plaintiff record companies $675,000 in "statutory damages". Tenenbaum moved to set the verdict aside on both common law remittitur grounds and constitutional due process grounds. Judge Gertner — the District Judge at the time — felt that remittitur would be a futility, and on constitutional grounds reduced the verdict to $2250 per file. The RIAA appealed. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals remanded on the ground that Judge Gertner ought to have decided the question on remittitur grounds and reached the constitutional question prematurely. By the time the case arrived back in District Court, Judge Gertner had retired, and a new judge — Judge Rya Zobel — had been assigned. Judge Zobel denied the remittitur motion. And then Judge Zobel denied the constitutional motion, leaving the larger verdict in place. I think it is reasonable to expect Tenenbaum to appeal this time around."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: In SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, the Court has reduced the jury's award from $675,000, or $22,500 per infringed work, to $67,500, or $2,250 per infringed work, on due process grounds, holding that the jury's award was unconstitutionally excessive. In a 64-page decision (PDF), District Judge Nancy Gertner ruled that the Gore, Campbell, and Williams line of cases was applicable to determining the constitutionality of statutory damages awards, that statutory damages must bear a reasonable relationship to the actual damages, and that the usual statutory damages award in even more egregious commercial cases is from 2 to 6 times the actual damages. However, after concluding that the actual damages in this case were ~ $1 per infringed work, she entered a judgment for 2250 times that amount. Go figure.