Supreme Court Refuses Appeal To $222K Fine Against Woman For 24 Songs

By Staff  |  03/22/2013

Logo - RIAA

US Supreme Court judges turned down an appeal from a woman recently, who was ordered to pay $222,000 for illegally downloading 24 songs on the now defunct file sharing service Kazaa.

The White House advised the court to side with the recording industry, reports

"The decision to not review the case marks the culmination of a five-year-long suit that made headlines as much over the proposed fine as for being evidence of the music industry's difficultly in adapting to the Internet age," writes

Native American Jammie Thomas-Rasset originally challenged the punishment from the RIAA, calling it unconstitutionally excessive. Since her appeals, which began in 2007, there has been three verdicts.

One judge determined she was responsible for paying copyright holders $222,000 for downloading 24 songs. While court documents revealed that she had initially been accused of downloading 1,702 music files, the RIAA only sought compensation for two dozen.

Later, on appeal, a judge admitted he had accidentally given the jury incorrect instructions and ruled against the defendant to the tune of $1.92 million -- almost $90,000 per song.

Thomas-Rasset appealed that verdict as well, and had the fine dropped to a total of $54,000 in 2009. However, another trial the following year ruled in favor of the RIAA for $1.5 million. That number was since been reduced to $54,000, before a September 2012 decision that saw the appeals court reinstate the original $222,000 penalty.

According to, the Supreme Court refused to listen to her case, in part, at the recommendation from the Obama administration, which submitted a brief supporting the RIAA.

“An award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act does not simply redress a private injury, but also serves to vindicate an important public interest," the brief read. "That public interest cannot be realized if the inherent difficulty of proving actual damages leaves the copyright holder without an effective remedy for infringement or precludes an effective means of deterring further copyright violations."

Thomas-Rasset has said she has no intention of paying the penalty, and even if she did, there's no way she would be able to do so.

"There's no way they can collect," she said. "Right now I get energy assistance because I have four kids. It's just one income. My husband isn't working. It's not possible for them to collect even if they wanted to. I have no assets."