$675K RIAA File Sharing Verdict Is ‘Unreasonable’

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by HardOCP News, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. HardOCP News

    HardOCP News [H] News

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    While it is obvious to most people that $22,500 per song is ridiculous, Joel Tenenbaum is hoping the courts see it that way too.

     
  2. UrielDagda

    UrielDagda 2[H]4U

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    I'd only find it reasonable if when they themselves lose a lawsuit, they had to pay $22,500 to each person affected instead of 13 bucks.
     
  3. Dekoth

    Dekoth Gawd

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    Fixed. :)
     
  4. Sabrewulf165

    Sabrewulf165 2[H]4U

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    "Obviously excessive" well that's just common sense. But we're talking about a US court of law here, what's that got to do with common sense?
     
  5. krupted

    krupted 2[H]4U

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    good for him. i have no problem with anyone using the us constitution to fight for right.
     
  6. cmay119

    cmay119 Limp Gawd

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    If he uses the Eigth Amendment arguement, he's more than likely going to lose. He'll play the 'Excessive Fine' card, but this is technically not a fine. As he's being sued by a private company for that amount in 'Damages' not 'Fines'. I'm no lawyer though, so if anyone is a lawyer or is more knowledgeable on the subject that myself. Please correct me where I'm wrong. :)
     
  7. m2h

    m2h Limp Gawd

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    If its 'damages' I'd like too see the proof that is causes that much in damages.
     
  8. cmay119

    cmay119 Limp Gawd

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    I think that's been their arguement from the very first one of these trials. I believe they make the arguement of 'potential' damages when a person is hosting a song on whatever P2P site is the flavor of the moment.
     
  9. alg7_munif

    alg7_munif [H]ardness Supreme

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    How can they call it potential damages when they are getting thousands of dollars from lawsuits? I think that it is much easier to find someone to sue than finding someone who would pay for their crap songs.
     
  10. Dougjwjr

    Dougjwjr Limp Gawd

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    I vote that the minimum be changed from 750 to like $1, the proper price. Have him pay $30 if you need him to, that's something reasonable.
     
  11. Katalysis

    Katalysis [H]ard|Gawd

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    I am.

    As you said, the award was for "damages" not "fines." The damages in the case stem from those outlined in the Copyright Act, which, technically, the award followed--the jury can whack them for a surprisingly large amount per violation.

    I haven't seen their brief, but what they will likely be arguing is that the due process clause, which limits damages in other cases, should be applied to the Copyright Act, as the damage is essentially punitive (I'm sure the RIAA will argue they deserve all that money to make up for whatever they lost by the sharing). Common sense tells us the amount is way too high for whatever damage was actually done to the record company, but, unfortunately, the statute says what it says, and the Court will likely say it is up to Congress to change the Copyright Act. This is not technically a punitive damage, all though it certainly looks like one. Any change made by the Court will be "activist judiciary" territory, as the law says what it says.
     
  12. cmay119

    cmay119 Limp Gawd

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    Hey, I never said I agreed with it, just putting out there how they (RIAA) justify their rediculous $/song ratio.
     
  13. cmay119

    cmay119 Limp Gawd

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    Very interesting, thanks for clearing that up. Has the due process clause been argued in previous cases for this? If so, does the defendant really have a leg to stand on?
     
  14. Katalysis

    Katalysis [H]ard|Gawd

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    Not to my knowledge. This really all came about when large companies got hit for really high punitive damage amounts for their conduct. The US Supreme Court said that the due process clause limits punitive damages to ten times the actual damages (eg, you have $100 in medical bills, punitive damages are no more than $1000).

    This is an over simplification, but these cases have never been extended to other types of damages, at least not yet. So, it's kind of up in the air as to how they apply elsewhere.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_of_North_America,_Inc._v._Gore

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Farm_v._Campbell
     
  15. cmay119

    cmay119 Limp Gawd

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    Thanks for the links. If this trial is succesful for the defendant, would previous cases be able to appeal their judgement of large damage amounts being imposed on them?
     
  16. Kelby

    Kelby Gawd

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    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and was later thawed by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! . . . When I see my image on the security camera at the country club, I wonder, are they stealing my soul? I get so upset, I hop out of my Range Rover, and run across the fairway to the clubhouse, where I get Carlos to make me one of those martinis he's so famous for, to soothe my primitive caveman brain. But whatever world you're from, I do know one thing--$22,500 a song is simply too big, it shocks the conscience and it’s “obviously unreasonable.”

    -- Cirroc, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer
     
  17. GoldenTiger

    GoldenTiger [H]ard as it Gets

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    Quoted for truth.
     
  18. uclajd

    uclajd Gawd

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    Unless the Supremes take the case, only cases decided in the northeast states that lie in the First Circuit would be affected, within the last 30 days, and each would have to be argued and won on its merits.

    While these damages obviously seem unfair, the due process argument would be a lot harder to make since the statute clearly spells out these damages, unlike in BMW or State Farm. Part of the argument in the BMW case was the "surprise!" aspect of the damages. These aren't puni's, they are authorized statutory damages.

    However, the court still can use a due process argument to attack a statute. After all, that's where the (questionable) concept modern substantive due process comes from, a statute (in Griswold, striking down a birth control ban). But this isn't the activist Warren Court. As the article author suggests, I could see Roberts writing for the majority saying, "dumb law, Congress should change it, but that's not our job."

    It might not seem like it, but when an unelected, life tenure judge says, "this is for the elected representatives to fix, not me," that mindset often promotes liberty, rather than constrains it (if not in this case, generally). If only more judges thought this way, instead of fancying themselves public policy-shaping philosopher kings!

    Briefly looking at those cases, I think they are probably distinguishable from this situation, but that doesn't mean that SCOTUS won't expand the law in this area.

    BTW, the Wikipedia summaries of these cases are horrible. Never rely on Wikipedia for legal summaries. Read the cases yourself.
     
  19. gibber

    gibber Gawd

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    I'd like to testify regarding the alleged damages.

    For example, let's say I downloaded a song from him. That does not result in any lost sale because I have not bought any CDs in about a decade, on principle. I detest the RIAA so strongly that I refuse to make any purchase that may result any any profit to them.

    I also do not download new music on a regular basis. I sometimes listen to the radio, and occasionally I will save a Youtube music video to my computer.

    I have downloaded MP3s without paying for them, but generally those MP3s I have downloaded are songs which are on CDs that I have purchased.

    I don't think it's actually illegal to download music or movies, I think the courts are just really screwed up ATM. I don't see copyright law applying to digital media, frankly.
     
  20. uclajd

    uclajd Gawd

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    BTW, I am assuming here the trial judge denies the MFANT, as they almost always do, and this is appealed. MFANTs are just hoops lawyers have to jump through before they may appeal.
     
  21. Azhar

    Azhar Fixing stupid since 1972

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    Say what? If you don't buy the song, it's a lost sale. Single songs ARE being sold you know. Amazon, iTunes, Napster, and so on.

    The "whole album" excuse doesn't work anymore.
     
  22. elektronisch

    elektronisch 2[H]4U

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    I wonder what politicians have their hands in the RIAA piggy bank to make all of this possible.

    Crooks, the whole damn system is flawed.
     
  23. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I think the courts should offer an alternative jail-time sentence with no restitution. Given the severity of the monetary penalty, I'm sure some people would take 1-year in a minimum security facility just fine if it meant screwing the RIAA out of $600k :)
     
  24. wolfen22

    wolfen22 Limp Gawd

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    That's the problem. You don't KNOW which downloads were lost sales or not. For that, you'd have to be able to see the future, Minority Report style. But we all know how well THAT worked out, don't we?

    Not to say he shouldn't be fined, but it should be 1/100th of what they're asking..
     
  25. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The main argument for the massive damages is that (usually) the defendant made the songs readily available via P2P networks. Thus, he facilitated the availability of the songs for others to steal.

    If you take it out of the digital context, you have this scenario - virtually the same, different outcome.

    - Person goes into a CD store and "acquires" music (via shoplifting or purchase).
    - Person copies these CD's and distributes freely (not for profit) to friends, family, and anyone at his local perish/whatever.

    He has thus, violated copyright law. The main issue I have with it, is that the studios have manipulated the laws (and our politicians via lobbyists) to gain a profit that was not guaranteed in the first place. There is no guarantee that the people who accepted the copied CD would have purchased the CD in the first place.

    Ultimately, $22,000 per song is equal to 22,000+ people buying that song legally. Did his "sharing" actually contribute to 22,000 worth of lost revenue for the studio/artist?

    Then there's the argument that, although he made the files available, he did not actively solicit the illegal downloading of them from his computer. *shrug*

    The laws were not written for the technological world that we live in today, it's like that for many areas.
     
  26. Riccochet

    Riccochet Off Topic Award

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    I like how he's forced to pay for "potential" losses. LULZ.

    I'm going to sue you all for potentially endangering my life by leaving your houses every day. SHAME ON YOU!

    The RIAA should have to provide proof of those loses. Proof that 22,000 people downloaded the song from him.

    I could potentially make millions by bottling my farts. Doesn't mean I can sue anyone that inhales one.
     
  27. beowulf7

    beowulf7 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    We have a winner here!
     
  28. Dekoth

    Dekoth Gawd

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    The problem with the argument of it being a lost sale is there are exceptions and ALOT of them.

    1) There are people who even if they couldn't download it, still would never buy it. As such it is not a lost sale.
    2) There are people like myself who already own the CD, and simply find it easier and more convenient to download a mp3 for digital purposes, instead of encoding it myself. Last i checked cds were not including free digital copies. The expectation that I am going to purchase a digital copy in addition is absurd when I already own the CD.
    3) There has yet to be substantive proof that every song the RIAA is suing for even belongs to them. They are providing quantities of songs downloaded by the offender without providing any evidence that all of the songs are even theirs. Believe it or not, there is a ton of music out online that gets downloaded that does not belong to them or their artists.

    Sorry but the argument that every download is a lost sale is rubbish. It fails miserably under even half assed scrutiny.
     
  29. Modred189

    Modred189 I'm Smarter Than You

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    I see where you are going, but let try it this way-
    1- Moot point. They did download it because it was available. They got a copy w/o paying. That's a lost sale/stealing etc.
    2- Tough situation to be sure, though one might ask why you didn't just rip it yourself, but that's not a big part of it, as I see your argument, especially in today's day and age of dl's taking seconds each.
    3- Doesn't matter really. Due to the nature of the incident, there's no way you can separate them out. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I don't see that there is any other way to do it.

    But in regards to your feeling that it should not apply to digital media, what about when these lawsuits started, and the mp3's were not initially from Amazon/Itunes/Zune etc, but were initially ripped from CDs? Does the origin of the product REALLY matter that much? Are you willing to go up to an artist and tell him/her that they do not deserve their justly earned money from making that song, simply because the copy you purchased is a copy of a downloaded and purchased mp3, rather than a rip from a CD?

    My question is, I suppose, where do YOu draw that line?
     
  30. starsfan7

    starsfan7 Limp Gawd

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    All points aside, I think the best argument was laid out in another one of these threads, I don't remember by who, but the gist of it was this:

    X (the upload speed of the users connection) times Y (the number of songs the accused made available) and Z (the length of time the songs were made available). When you factor all of that in, even at max upload speed it was still not even 1/100 of what they were asking for.

    It's not like these people have fat upload hosting hundreds of thousand of songs to millions of people. In all likelihood only a handful of people downloaded from that particular person. So if you had 12-20 songs worth 99 cents a piece, and say there are 200 songs downloaded uniquely from you, that's still only 2K in damages if the limit in punitive damages is 10x the original cost.

    Wouldn't the number of copies distributed be critically relevant in determining damages?
     
  31. Dekoth

    Dekoth Gawd

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    My only point is that calling a "lost sale" is misleading and manipulative on the part of the RIAA. I will fully agree that it is stealing IF the user does not already own the CD/Song in some other purchase. I think number 3 matters a great bit if they are being fined per song. Really I have no objection to people getting fined for downloading illegally, I have objection to blatant extortion, which is what the RIAA is doing. For example, I own most of the major artists cd's today that I regularly enjoy. I download some for digital use instead of ripping them as most times it is flat faster today. However the overwhelming majority of my downloads are music that you cannot find in stores. I collect some old and odd stuff. As such if the RIAA were to try and go after me, I literally have thousands of songs that in no way belong to them, so going off number is as mentioned misleading and manipulative and would be outright extortion as I only really have perhaps a dozen riaa owned songs on my computer.

    As to the question you posed last, absolutely because they did not justly earn a thing. I already paid them for the CD, at that point I own said cd and can do with it as I please. As to how i get that CD on my computer be it by ripping myself or by downloading it, that my concern.
     
  32. LAiN_OfTheWired

    LAiN_OfTheWired Gawd

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    Laws regarding theft generally allow for charging 10x the item's actual cost as being the amount to fine the perpetrator. So I could see $10 for every song, but anything beyond that seems utterly ridiculous. They do claim it is stealing, so we should hold them to established laws. They don't even seem consistent on how much per song they are suing for. $250/song in one case, $750 in another... This is just dumb, and I can't believe there hasn't been a lawyer with enough cajones to call shens on this crap before now.
     
  33. wolfen22

    wolfen22 Limp Gawd

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    Yes. They need to focus more on that. Instead they just say "WELL Since we don't know *hehe* we're just going to fine you for our estimate of....... one million dollars. *hehe*"
     
  34. PunditGuy

    PunditGuy Limp Gawd

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    This happens every time there's a copyright-related story. People start talking about 99-cent downloads and how the awards are sooooo excessive.

    The actual damages are not relevant when the copyright holder chooses to pursue statutory damages. They could have sued for actual damages (plus the profit from the infringement) if they wanted -- but obviously, they would have run into all of the problems you've described.

    The burden of proving actual damages falls to the party whose work was infringed. How fair is that? Plus, to show the extent of actual damages and the infringer's profit, you have to rely on the recordkeeping of the infringer. Copyright violators may not be all that worried about accounting standards.

    That's why there's statutory damages. Yes, they can be burdensome, but what deterrent value would they have if they were a slap on the wrist?

    As for whether downloading is illegal or not, consider that not one of these cases has been about downloading; they've all been about uploading. Copyright holders have the exclusive right to distribute their works. Making their works available via upload is a form of distribution, and is thus copyright infringement.
     
  35. cmay119

    cmay119 Limp Gawd

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    You can't look at it like that though. You've gotta look at it like a virus spreading throughout the populace. Person A hosts original copy of file to the internet over P2P, lets say 4 people download from that person. Now according to the RIAA there are 5 people hosting this same song. Then 5 more people download from each user so 25 total now, and so on and so forth. The rate of the song distribution is theoretically exponential.

    This is how the RIAA argues it, and how they win these over-inflated 'damages'.

    Though their are multiple hosts in the end. They blame the originator of the file for all of it (even though most/all of these people aren't the actaul originator).
     
  36. wolfen22

    wolfen22 Limp Gawd

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    Which isn't right. They're basing all of their numbers off of theories and estimates.

    You can not prove that one guy is responsible for all of the copies of a song out there. You just can't. It's impossible.

    The RIAA is just bullshitting numbers so they can fine ridiculous amounts. They know it, we know it, everyone knows it.
     
  37. starsfan7

    starsfan7 Limp Gawd

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    Well then they can go after the people who distribute it from there. If someone asks to borrow a rifle to go hunting, and then goes on a murderous rampage, are you still liable for murder? How does the law work there? Sorry, only metaphor I could think of, do you get what I mean?
     
  38. Gavv

    Gavv [H]ardForum Junkie

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    That would depend on if your pro or anti gun

    (sorry I know it's true but and not the answer your looking for.. but I laughed when I typed it).
     
  39. krupted

    krupted 2[H]4U

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    ahh, the old... well i dont know what its called, but you cant win a lawsuit with the argument that said lawsuit is what the prosecution wanted:p
     
  40. starsfan7

    starsfan7 Limp Gawd

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    I know, I was thinking the same thing as I typed it, but I couldn't come up with a better metaphor >_<.