The record companies are happy today. Text book publishers and authors are not.
The Supreme Court has denied cert in the case of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a native American who uploaded, downloaded or otherwise shared 24 songs on Kazaa, a now-defunct music file-sharing service, for personal use. The record companies sued, and the ultimate judgment against her, after several retrials and appeals with jury verdicts as high as $1.9 million, was $222,000, or $9,250 per song. The issue, according to the Petition for Cert (which includes the 8th Circuit and trial court's opinions in the Appendix portion):
Is there any constitutional limit to the statutory damages that can be imposed for downloading music online?
Under the copyright infringement statute, it is not necessary for the record company to show actual damages or that the infringer profited from the work. It can seek statutory damages, which allow up to $150,000 for each infringement. The remedies section of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 504, provides: