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(Slashdot)   Using federal courts to extort huge copyright violation payments might be just a little bit unconstitutional   (yro.slashdot.org) divider line 7
    More: Obvious, federal courts, Infraction, Federal Circuit, statutory damages, overly broad, trial courts, payments  
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4274 clicks; posted to Geek » on 13 Dec 2012 at 12:29 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-13 12:27:10 PM  
2 votes:

scottydoesntknow: Theaetetus: scottydoesntknow: Theaetetus: vudutek: Theaetetus: ... according to the woman who destroyed her hard drive after receiving the notice of the law suit and then lied in court about it.

so, regardless of the existence of said hard drive or not, are you seriously contending that $220,000 for 23 .mp3's isn't extortion, and is indeed a fair judgement for damages and loss of revenue?

Michael Jackson paid $47.5 million for distribution rights to 4,000 Beatles songs, or $11,875 per song. Times 23, that's $273,125. So, yeah, $220,000 is definitely in the ballpark for a license to distribute 23 mp3s.

Yes, he paid $47.5 million, but was able to make a massive profit from that. Sony paid him $95 million to merge Sony and ATV together in '95. He made an assload of money off that deal. Did she make a profit from those 23 .mp3s? I haven't read the full prior case, but if she wasn't selling these songs or trying to make money from it, then I would say that is excessive.

Now if she was trying to sell them for a profit then she does deserve to sink.

That's an interesting theory... Can you point to anything in the copyright statute that says that "damages are only available if the infringer made a profit" or "damages can only be applied if the infringer is a good businessman"?

Can you point to where I said they don't deserve any damages? I just think the damages are excessive if she wasn't making any money off it. No, she shouldn't owe just $23 ($1 for each song) because she did break the law, but almost $10,000 per song?!


I agree, but I think her argument - that the damages are unconstitutionally punitive - and your argument - that she's not making a profit so the damages are extortion - are both losing arguments. The better argument is that the range given to the jury of $750-150,000 was based on an incorrect interpretation of the term "willful", and that the jury should have been given a range of $750-30,000. They would have ended up picking an amount much lower, and she would be probably be on the hook for around $25k-50k total, which is much more reasonable.
But, she's not raising that argument because she can't afford even that amount, and if you're in for a penny, you might as well be in for a pound.
2012-12-13 01:50:54 PM  
1 votes:

Theaetetus: That's an interesting theory... Can you point to anything in the copyright statute that says that "damages are only available if the infringer made a profit" or "damages can only be applied if the infringer is a good businessman"?


Okay, I know you're an attorney, so I'll try to explain this you.

Most people aren't attorneys, they don't know the wording of the law, they don't care about it. They go by what societal norms tell them the right and wrong things are to do, not by the wording of the law.

Take a look out your window. Right now. See that guy? Yeah. He's not a lawyer. He almost certainly doesn't know copyright law or any one of a zillion other legal fields, but he's still held to them.

So, how do non-attorneys deal with this problem, in everyday life? They do what they think is right, what they see other people doing and what their own combination of experience and morality tells them is right.

Yeah, you spent three years in law school and an entire career in a field learning to think differently. Most people don't think like you. Most people don't see a problem, or at least not a serious problem, with sharing mp3 files. They do see something wrong with selling those files though. That's why people talk about not making any money off of it.

Those same people, hundreds of millions of them in the USA, see penalties of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per song as ridiculous, and unjust. Don't expect a lot of public support and adherence to laws that are widely seen as unjust.

The recording industry spending the first few years of the mp3 fad actively trying to eliminate the medium didn't help either. They didn't provide a legal option, they wanted everybody to keep buying CDs. It was the much discussed "buggy whip" problem. Ultimately the rampant trade in mp3's was not reduced by strict law enforcement and litigation, but by the market. iTunes and Amazon mp3 providing a vast library of music for only $0.99 per song made the process quick, affordable and simple, in addition to legal.
2012-12-13 01:29:02 PM  
1 votes:

Theaetetus: GAT_00: Rincewind53: No, it's not.

Look, I hate the RIAA and those cases as much as the next guy, but there is zero basis for saying that it was an unconstitutional decision.

She isn't arguing this right either. She should be arguing for cruel and unusual fines.

That's a terrible argument. There aren't any fines applied, just compensatory damages.


Which still need to abide the "no cruel & unusual punishment" rule, right? So can SCOTUS consider whether asking a housewife to pay $220k in penalties for illegally distributing 23 songs (an undetermined number of times) is "cruel" in its excess? Can Ms Thomas present evidence of a conspiracy to have these damage awards be in the 6 figures, and always levied against people whose lifetime net incomes are not likely to exceed 6 figures (see above); and might SCOTUS come to a decision that RIAA is free to sue for illegal distribution, but the penalty is no more than $1,000 per song (unless they can prove she distributed it more than X times, or shared it for X days or something)? That asking for these huge awards is tantamount to extorting people?
2012-12-13 12:13:08 PM  
1 votes:

Theaetetus: scottydoesntknow: Theaetetus: vudutek: Theaetetus: ... according to the woman who destroyed her hard drive after receiving the notice of the law suit and then lied in court about it.

so, regardless of the existence of said hard drive or not, are you seriously contending that $220,000 for 23 .mp3's isn't extortion, and is indeed a fair judgement for damages and loss of revenue?

Michael Jackson paid $47.5 million for distribution rights to 4,000 Beatles songs, or $11,875 per song. Times 23, that's $273,125. So, yeah, $220,000 is definitely in the ballpark for a license to distribute 23 mp3s.

Yes, he paid $47.5 million, but was able to make a massive profit from that. Sony paid him $95 million to merge Sony and ATV together in '95. He made an assload of money off that deal. Did she make a profit from those 23 .mp3s? I haven't read the full prior case, but if she wasn't selling these songs or trying to make money from it, then I would say that is excessive.

Now if she was trying to sell them for a profit then she does deserve to sink.

That's an interesting theory... Can you point to anything in the copyright statute that says that "damages are only available if the infringer made a profit" or "damages can only be applied if the infringer is a good businessman"?


Can you point to where I said they don't deserve any damages? I just think the damages are excessive if she wasn't making any money off it. No, she shouldn't owe just $23 ($1 for each song) because she did break the law, but almost $10,000 per song?!
2012-12-13 12:05:16 PM  
1 votes:

Theaetetus: doyner: Theaetetus: Michael Jackson paid $47.5 million for distribution rights to 4,000 Beatles songs, or $11,875 per song. Times 23, that's $273,125. So, yeah, $220,000 is definitely in the ballpark for a license to distribute 23 mp3s.

I didn't know royalty rights accompanied mp3 downloads. I'm going to be RICH!!!

You don't think Apple pays the record and movie companies for each sale or rental on iTunes?


I'm sure they do, but the value of those files rests in the ability to sell them thousands of times over, not in the aquisition thereof by a single end-user. Unless she was going to do that, your statement is a false equivalence.
2012-12-13 11:26:02 AM  
1 votes:
No, it's not.

Look, I hate the RIAA and those cases as much as the next guy, but there is zero basis for saying that it was an unconstitutional decision.
2012-12-13 11:16:03 AM  
1 votes:

Theaetetus: ... according to the woman who destroyed her hard drive after receiving the notice of the law suit and then lied in court about it.


so, regardless of the existence of said hard drive or not, are you seriously contending that $220,000 for 23 .mp3's isn't extortion, and is indeed a fair judgement for damages and loss of revenue?
 
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