The Minnesota Verdict ordering an Woman to pay US 1.92 million as compensation for downloading songs from Kazaa network has stunned the Netizen population. 

The verdict is shocking because of the amount of compensation granted which has far exceeded what can be called reasonable even if the allegation was proved beyond doubt.

The offence is not like a “Murder” where the loss to the victim can never be compensated in terms of money. Hence “Punishment as a detterrance for future crimes of similar nature” does not hold in this case.

This  is an economic offence where the victim is claiming a notional loss arising out of the alleged illegal act. The compensation can at best be therefore two to three times the alleged loss if it is proved that the person has caused the loss willfully.

This judgement is no doubt a shot in the arm for RIAA which can now expect that in the more than 30000 cases said to be pending, it can negotiate an out of court settlement at rates close to the compensation granted in the Jammie Thomas Rassset case. The commercial gain expected to be made by RIAA could be in billions of dollars. RIAA should thank the Jury for such a bonanza.

From the point of view of justice however, there is an urgent need to check the tendency of RIAA to terrorize the end user community with such legal action.  While no body can dispute the right of RIAA to proceed against service providers who actually facilitate the downloading of illegal content including unlicensed music, any action against the end user community cannot be allowed to result in such ridiculous compensation.

A decision of this nature will  erode the confidence of public on the ability of Courts to come to a reasonable decision when commercial interests are involved.

RIAA should own the responsibility for this attempt for unreasonable enrichment through law and imposition of a cap on compensation based on the acutal financial deprivement resulting from the alleged offence must be considered. 

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