A U.S. district court has dramatically slashed the amount of money a Minnesota woman must pay in damages for illegally sharing music online.

Last June, a federal jury in Minnesota found Jammie Thomas-Rasset liable for willful copyright infringement and ordered her to pay nearly $2 million. Michael Davis, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, chopped the amount to $54,000, or $2,250 per song.

"The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music," wrote Davis.

The Recording Industry Association of America accused Thomas-Rasset in 2007 of illegal file sharing, and after refusing to admit guilt or settle with the RIAA, she became the first person to take her case to court. She has become something of a cause celebre for anticopyright proponents. In a phone interview with CNET, Joe Sibley, one of Thomas-Rasset's attorneys, said the judge corrected an obvious injustice.

"His decision reflects that the jury committed an abuse and the judge corrected it," Sibley said. "He made it much more equitable and this was much closer to the $0 award that we were seeking."

Full story: c|net