Earlier this year Thomas, a single mother from Minnesota, went to court over a lawsuit brought from the Recording Industry Association of America. They accused her of illegally sharing 24 songs on the peer-to-peer program Kazaa.
The jury found Thomas guilty and ordered her to pay $9,250 for each offense, a total of $222,000. Thomas appealed the verdict, saying that the record companies involved in the lawsuit did not actually incur that much in damages.
The Department of Justice this week rendered a decision on that appeal, siding with the RIAA. It noted that the damages awarded fell under the guidelines in the Copyright Act, noting that it was to act both as a compensatory and a deterrent.
"Given the findings of copyright infringement in this case, the damages awarded under the Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision did not violate the Due Process Clause," said the ruling.
The case is considered a landmark because it is the first of its kind to actually go to court, setting a precedent in favor of the record companies. Dozens of other lawsuits have been filed against online music pirates but with the exception of Thomas’s case, all of been settled out of court.