Music File-Sharing Award Left Intact By Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a $222,000 award against a Minnesota woman for illegally downloading and sharing songs, leaving intact a victory for the music industry in its anti-piracy campaign.

The justices today turned away an appeal by Jammie Thomas- Rasset, who argued unsuccessfully that the award was so large it violated the Constitution. A federal appeals court upheld the award last year.

The suit against Thomas-Rasset was one of 30,000 filed by the recording industry against alleged copyright infringers from 2003 to 2008. Most of the cases led to settlements, and Thomas- Rasset’s was one of only a handful still being fought in court. Record companies say piracy costs them billions of dollars in sales.

Thomas-Rasset was sued in 2006 under the U.S. Copyright Act by the country’s largest record labels, including units of Sony Corp. (SNE) and Vivendi SA. (VIV) The lawsuit focused on 24 recordings, though the appeals court pointed to evidence that her account on the Kazaa file-sharing service contained 1,700 recordings.

The case is Thomas-Rasset v. Capitol Records, 12-715.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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