A District Court judge has reduced the third verdict in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset file-sharing case to $54,000 (or $2,250 per song), from $1.5 million. The news was first reported by Ben Sheffner via Twitter.
The award was higher than the court would have chosen on its own and is the maximum amount permitted by the Constitution, the judge wrote in the 43-page opinion.
The judge called the jury's award "outrageously high" and "appalling" given that the defendant had been found guilty for stealing and distributing just 24 songs for personal use. "The Court is loath to interfere with the jury's damages decision," the opinion reads. "However, the Constitution and justice compel the Court to act."
The $1.5 million award was handed down in the third trial of record labels' lawsuit against Thomas-Rasset, who was also found guilty in the first two trials. However, the verdict of the first trial was vacated due to the court's conclusion it had erred in its jury instructions. The second trial also resulted in a guilty verdict, but the award was reduced by the judge. That led to a third trial that focused solely on the amount of the award.
An RIAA spokesperson told Billboard.biz via email that, "We disagree with the decision and are considering our next steps."