Victims of child pornography in the US can claim damages from every person caught with images of their sexual abuse - but within limits, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Federal judges will have the power to limit how much money victims of child pornography can recover after a landmark appeals court ruling which awarded a victim of child sex abuse more than $3m against one online paedophile.

The nine judges on the Supreme Court sitting in Washington voted five to four to uphold the Violence Against Women Act, which legislates for restitution to victims.

They were ruling on a case brought by a young woman, known as Amy, who had learned that photographs of her being sexually abused when she was eight years old were circulating on the internet. Her uncle was prosecuted and paid $6,000 in restitution.

She went to courts around the country seeking restitution against other people who had seen those images and who had pleaded guilty to child porn charges.

One, Texan Doyle Paroline, was ordered by a federal appeals court in New Orleans to pay her $3.4m - the amount she had demanded.

The Supreme Court quashed that judgment, saying Paroline was required to pay a more reasonable amount in proportion to the crime. He had only two images of her among more than 150 illegal photographs.

She was said to be "surprised and confused" by the decision.

"This would serve the twin goals of helping the victim achieve eventual restitution for all of her child pornography losses and impressing upon offenders the fact that child pornography crimes, even simple possession, affect real victims," said Justice Anthony Kennedy.