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DoJ Defends $1.92 Million RIAA Verdict

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the yes-it's-totally-reasonable dept.

Government 386

Death Metal points out a CNet report saying that the Justice Department has come out in favor of the $1.92 million verdict awarded to the RIAA in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case. Their support came in the form of a legal brief filed on Friday, which notes, "Congress took into account the need to deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe that they will go unnoticed." It also says, "The Copyright Act's statutory damages provision serves both to compensate and deter. Congress established a scheme to allow copyright holders to elect to receive statutory damages for copyright infringement instead of actual damages and profits because of the difficulty of calculating and proving actual damages."

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This provies it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076837)

Obama hates pirates. Arrr!

Not exactly a surprise ... (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 5 years ago | (#29076845)

I suppose this is what happens when you appoint a half-dozen ex-RIAA attorneys to top spots in the Justice Department. President Obama assured us that rules were put into place to prevent this sort of activity, but apparently that doesn't matter. Not that I'm the least bit surprised by that. Frankly, I think the Justice Department should have better things to occupy their time than civil lawsuits. That kind of bias ought to be considered malfeasance in office, or something else worthy of immediate dismissal.

1.92 million dollars for copyright violations by an individual? Now that's Justice for you. Personally, I've never believed that the law should be used to make examples out of people, no matter how distasteful their crimes. That simply breeds more disrespect for the law, which is something the RIAA is apparently unable to understand. They will continue to reap the rewards of that lack of understanding, regardless of what ultimately happens to Jammie Thomas.

Punishment should fit the crime: otherwise it is just government-sanctioned brutality.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | about 5 years ago | (#29076899)

You mention copyright violation by an individual. Well. as soon as it hits a P2P sharing program, it is no longer an individual. It is potentially everone on the planet.

Of course, the biggest limiting factor is knowledge. iTunes exists because people do not know how to obtain digital goods for free. The folks that know aren't paying any more, so the system is now supported on the backs of the ignorant.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076931)

It is potentially everone on the planet.

Yes it is.. including the old, disabled and those wiithout computers.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 years ago | (#29076953)

iTunes exists because people do not know how to obtain digital goods for free.

Not everybody thinks that rampant copying of music or whatever for free is appropriate. While I think that the current copyright system and the legal actions surrounding that are pretty stupid, I also think that stealing (yep, that's the word) of commercial data isn't correct either. So, if you're one of those folks that think "everything digital should be free", sorry, but you're just wrong and rather ignorant of the complex interplay between work, production, economics and entertainment yourself.

If you don't like how the major labels deal with production and distribution of their product, don't use them. Don't buy it. Don't steal it.

finally (1, Redundant)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 5 years ago | (#29077021)

the voice of reason on copyright!

Re:finally (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077409)

except for the claim that "it's stealing" part

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077453)

yah, that's not reason, that's logic.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077131)

If you don't like how the major labels deal with production and distribution of their product, don't use them. Don't buy it. Don't steal it.

This answer always amuses me because it makes it seem like we have another choice. We don't -- or at least we have very little other options.

It's like when people complain about telecom customer service/charges/whatever, and are given the answer, "If you don't like the way we operate then don't buy it." Well, what other choice do I have? I need a data plan on my smartphone, but I don't want to get raped. Unfortunately, the only option is rape because every company operates the same way.

Nice try, but saying "Don't buy it" when services are monopolized and yet wanted/needed by everyone is completely unreasonable. It's the business model that's wrong, not the customer.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (4, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | about 5 years ago | (#29077183)

Sorry, gotta call BS on this, AC. It's one thing to break the DMCA because you want backups of your own music, or you want to be able to play that music on a device that's not officially supported. But to simply copy the music because you don't want to pay for it is a choice, pure and simple. If you don't like the price, well, you don't need what they're selling, and you don't have to buy it.

Whether or not it's stealing is one thing. But it is indeed use without compensation. Buying from iTunes or Amazon or any number of other DRM-free vendors is a perfectly reasonable solution. To claim that it's rape is childish and ignorant because if you say "no" to their product, they won't take your money.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077495)

If you don't like the price, well, you don't need what they're selling, and you don't have to buy it.

Except the price is artificially high because the labels are all in collusion (opinion). Either way, I don't buy music or download it. The radio is enough for me. I've never understood the need to purchase music (or at least, numerous albums).

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 years ago | (#29077505)

They will take your money, they'll just sue it out of you instead of taking it at retail.

Remember the lady who got sued while in the hospital and got greeted by a default judgement when she came out? That's the kind of people we're dealing with.

And don't give me the BS line that she should have answered the complaint. The bastards should not have sued her to begin with and their victory was just exploitation of a legal loophole.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (5, Insightful)

eqisow (877574) | about 5 years ago | (#29077217)

You do know there are minor labels, digital distributors such as Jamendo and Magnatune, as well as unsigned/independent artists, right? Some of music you'll find there is quite good. Subjectively, I'd even venture to say the good/bad ratio is better than the major labels.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | about 5 years ago | (#29077179)

I also think that stealing (yep, that's the word)

No, it isn't, unless you're talking about people breaking into your house and stealing your hard disk with the data.

Simple example to see the difference:

If I steal your cell phone, has anything been taken away from you? Definitely, yes.

If I copy the design of your cell phone and manufacture it on my own, has anything been taken away from you? Not really.

If you say that "profit" has been taken away from you, then that's not the same thing, as I could do that in other ways, by for instance speaking to my friends and telling them your phone sucks, causing them not to buy it. Have I stolen anything from you in that case, and are you going to take me to court for theft?

And for the record, I'm not anti-copyright, but still don't like the attempts to equate copyright with the ownership of a physical object. They don't work the same.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29077267)

The problem here is the generic take without permission equal stealing ideology we have all been taught. If you take something that doens't belong to you without permision or a right to do so, people consider that stealing.

Where this breaks down is that the copyright hold has no control over you obtaining the materials. The only control they have is over who and how or when it is distributed. This control is a construct of law so downloading is not stealing because someone gave you permission to take the object (no matter how artificial it is). Now if you are the one distributing, it is stealing because you are taking the exclusive right to control reproduction and distribution (regardless of how intangible the property is) that was granted by the legal construct.

So in one instance, there is theft, in the other there is not. But you have to remember, the copyrighted materials are not what is stolen, those are the vehicles which the legal rights are attached. What is stolen is the right to be in control to the extent the law allows. And yes, if you took my control over the copying and distribution of something, I am out that concept just like I would if you took my cell phone or TV or car.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (5, Informative)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 5 years ago | (#29077405)

No, a copyright is the exclusive right. If Alice took the right from Bob, it would mean that Alice could use the law to prohibit Bob from doing various things with the work. It is obvious, though, that if Alice unlawfully makes a copy of a sound recording Bob has the copyright to, that Bob can still do as he pleases with the sound recording, license it to others, etc.

So the right isn't stolen. Rather, the right is infringed upon, rather like if Alice trespassed onto Bob's land (which violates Bob's right to exclude others, but doesn't impact ownership), or if the government unconstitutionally censored Alice.

It is hard to imagine a way in which a copyright could be stolen. I suppose it might be possible via fraud, but in normal everyday life it just doesn't happen. Copyrights are infringed upon a great deal, but it just isn't the same.

The desire for accuracy when describing these issues is probably why the law itself refers to it as infringement, and not as theft, and why attempts to use anti-larceny statutes against copyright infringers have fallen flat at the highest levels.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 5 years ago | (#29077437)

The problem here is the generic take without permission equal stealing ideology we have all been taught. If you take something that doens't belong to you without permision or a right to do so, people consider that stealing.

My own understanding is that "taking" refers to a physical objects, and as such, abstract things like ideas, designs and exclusivity do not apply.

What is stolen is the right to be in control to the extent the law allows. And yes, if you took my control over the copying and distribution of something, I am out that concept just like I would if you took my cell phone or TV or car.

No, it isn't. You still haven't lost the ability to do your own manufacturing.

The only situation where I might agree something was taken from you is if I really managed to take the ability to manufacture it away from you, for instance by somehow fraudulently getting the copyright transferred to me, not only making me able to manufacture your cell phone design, but making it illegal for you to do that at the same time.

So long my copying your cell phone's design doesn't somehow stop you from making them, I will never agree there's theft involved. It's copyright infringement.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (4, Insightful)

SetupWeasel (54062) | about 5 years ago | (#29077221)

Copyright law is currently held hostage by the cartels that are making all the money off it. I have no problem with anyone downloading any work that is over 20 years old, maybe even 10 years old. Those works should be in the public domain by any reasonable standard. Unfortunately, we don't have reason. We have monopolies that are allowed to control legislation, fix prices, exploit artists, and escape any prosecution for their own crimes. People talk about justice for content providers. Where is the justice for the consumer?

If everyone is doing it, maybe it should be legal.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (3, Insightful)

Tynin (634655) | about 5 years ago | (#29076991)

...as soon as it hits a P2P sharing program, it is no longer an individual. It is potentially everyone on the planet.

Except for a little limitation called upstream bandwidth. She very likely only shared these files maybe a few hundred times, well out of proportion for the financial life sentence she was handed.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#29077215)

Those layers are dumb as shit, but perhaps not dumb enough to not have heard about Mr. Fibonacci or binary trees (or they might have friends who would sooner or later tell them). That said, the "amortized damage" by an individual is still comparatively minor.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (5, Funny)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 5 years ago | (#29077015)

It is potentially everone on the planet.

you know; you're so so right. In fact, if you think about it all the people who ever paid for an internet connection helped contribute to this by supporting the infrastructure used for all those people to "potentially" infringe.

I think everybody who ever used the internet should have to pay at least this much to the RIAA. They have (potentially) suffered so much. In fact, if you think about it, and multiply the number of potential people who could have copied by the number of potential people who could have been copied from by the number of potential songs that could have been copied by the maximum potential statutory damages, I think you'll find that their potential losses must run to more dollars than the number of atoms in the planet. We should just declare them galactic rulers and do their every bidding.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1, Insightful)

ljaszcza (741803) | about 5 years ago | (#29077047)

Well, RIAA should go after libraries next. Think of the hundreds of people that have viewed movies, listened to music, copied books and magazines, without paying their fair share. Billions of dollars must have been lost in sales over the years! Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the industry lost because of the scourge called a "public library". A true menace to this country and the American Way of Life. Sue them all, from the NY Public library to the smallest church library. If people want content, they should pay for content. One copy per device per user. We won't even start with the copying machine. No reason for those other then theft of printed content.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29077297)

You should really just read the laws on this. There are specific exemptions for libraries and legitimate archival. That sort of makes your comment uniformed at best.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1)

Denihil (1208200) | about 5 years ago | (#29077475)

Understand sarcasm much?

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (3, Interesting)

DinDaddy (1168147) | about 5 years ago | (#29077069)

She is only responsible for the copies that people downloaded directly from her. Additional copies downloaded from those people are their responsibility, not hers.

So yeah, still an individual.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 5 years ago | (#29077361)

so the system is now supported on the backs of the ignorant.

And the ethical. And those nervous of $1.92 million lawsuits.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077401)

It is potentially everyone on the planet.

I also potential harm everyone on the planet every time I drive my car. Perhaps I should be sued for what might potentially happen, instead of what actually happened.

I potentially could have shot you just now. Time for murder charges.

I illegally broadcast a song using a HAM radio, I suppose that warrants a multi-million dollar RIAA lawsuit.

A $1.92M verdict against an individual does not deter most of America anymore than a $100k verdict would. Either amount is likely bankruptcy for a majority of America.

Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076911)

During the election, about 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Hussein Obama due solely to the color of his skin. See the exit-polling data [cnn.com] by CNN.

Note the voting pattern of Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc. These non-Black minorities serve as a measurement of African-American racism against Whites (and other non-Black folks). Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor John McCain is Hispanic or Asian. So, Hispanics and Asian-Americans used only non-racial criteria in selecting a candidate and, hence, serve as the reference by which we detect a racist voting pattern. Only about 65% of Hispanics and Asian-Americans supported Obama. In other words, a maximum of 65% support by any ethnic or racial group for either McCain or Obama is not racist and, hence, is acceptable. (A maximum of 65% for McCain is okay. So, European-American support at 55% for McCain is well below this threshold and, hence, is not racist.)

If African-Americans were not racist, then at most 65% of them would have supported Obama. At that level of support, McCain would have won the presidential race.

At this point, African-American supremacists (and apologists) claim that African-Americans voted for Obama because he (1) is a member of the Democratic party and (2) supports its ideals. That claim is an outright lie. Look at the exit-polling data [cnn.com] for the Democratic primaries. Consider the case of North Carolina. Again, about 95% of African-Americans voted for him and against Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats, and their official political positions on the campaign trail were nearly identical. Yet, 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama and against Hillary Clinton. Why? African-Americans supported Obama due solely to the color of his skin.

Here is the bottom line. Barack Hussein Obama does not represent mainstream America. He won the election due to the racist voting pattern exhibited by African-Americans.

African-Americans have established that expressing "racial pride" by voting on the basis of skin color is 100% acceptable. Neither the "Wall Street Journal" nor the "New York Times" complained about this racist behavior. Therefore, in future elections, please feel free to express your racial pride by voting on the basis of skin color. Feel free to vote for the non-Black candidates and against the Black candidates if you are not African-American. You need not defend your actions in any way. Voting on the basis of skin color is quite acceptable by today's moral standard.

Re:Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077061)

I'm feeding the troll, but why do you white anglo-saxon protestants still call yourself mainstream America when every day you become an even smaller minority? The days of whitey controlling the country are over, esé.

disappointing (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 5 years ago | (#29076995)

but not surprising.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077005)

Department of Justice

Now there's irony for you.

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (4, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#29077039)

I suppose this is what happens when you appoint a half-dozen ex-RIAA attorneys to top spots in the Justice Department. President Obama assured us that rules were put into place to prevent this sort of activity, but apparently that doesn't matter. Not that I'm the least bit surprised by that. Frankly, I think the Justice Department should have better things to occupy their time than civil lawsuits. That kind of bias ought to be considered malfeasance in office, or something else worthy of immediate dismissal. 1.92 million dollars for copyright violations by an individual? Now that's Justice for you. Personally, I've never believed that the law should be used to make examples out of people, no matter how distasteful their crimes. That simply breeds more disrespect for the law, which is something the RIAA is apparently unable to understand. They will continue to reap the rewards of that lack of understanding, regardless of what ultimately happens to Jammie Thomas.

What really goes on at DOJ, I can't say, but I will point out the following:

1. If President Obama's rules are being applied, the six or more ex-RIAA attorneys were recused from dealing with this case, and had nothing to do with the brief.

2. The brief's arguments are not dissimilar to the arguments made by the Bush administration when they filed their brief on this issue [ilrweb.com] (pdf) in 2007.

3. In the important Cartoon Networks v. CSC Holdings [beckermanlegal.com] case, the Solicitor General filed a brief which directly contravened [blogspot.com] the positions the RIAA's lawyers had taken in that very case. (See Slashdot discussion [slashdot.org] .)

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29077335)

1. If President Obama's rules are being applied, the six or more ex-RIAA attorneys were recused from dealing with this case, and had nothing to do with the brief.

Can those rules actually be followed? I mean the DOJ shouldn't be weighing in on a civil case in the first place but what would you do when you know you bosses have a certain position and they are refrained from acting for some reason outside their own? I mean you still report to them, you still rely on them for performance reviews, raises and so on to some extent. You still have to worry about the boss retaliating in some way, can you really isolate them?

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#29077393)

1. If President Obama's rules are being applied, the six or more ex-RIAA attorneys were recused from dealing with this case, and had nothing to do with the brief.

Can those rules actually be followed? I mean the DOJ shouldn't be weighing in on a civil case in the first place but what would you do when you know you bosses have a certain position and they are refrained from acting for some reason outside their own? I mean you still report to them, you still rely on them for performance reviews, raises and so on to some extent. You still have to worry about the boss retaliating in some way, can you really isolate them?

I don't know. I just discovered this [slashdot.org]

Re:Not exactly a surprise ... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 5 years ago | (#29077067)

I am not that surprised but a bit disappointed. I thought that with Obama USA was going to take the lead on the issue of copyright in the 21st century. Do not expect many outbreaks from Europe right now. I hope he is just fixing issues by order of priority and that copyright reform is still somewhere on the list.

Doesn't Deter Me! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076855)

This doesn't deter anybody, because the fine is only $5000 and you have the same odds of being sued whether you own a computer or not. What this does is deter people from FIGHTING the unjust $5000 fine, lest you have to pay .

HOLY SHIT A BRICK (1, Informative)

the_macman (874383) | about 5 years ago | (#29076867)

Holy shit.....Can this not be more glaringly obviously corrupt? Obama hires lots of ex-RIAA lawyers which then uphold RIAA favored judgments. I'm fucking speechless because this judgment is so mind numbingly dumb. I think this needs to go to the supreme court (not that they will overturn it, but fuck SOMEONE with higher authority needs to say this is insane).

Re:HOLY SHIT A BRICK (-1, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29077389)

HI troll, err I mean the_macman, didn't you know that no matter how corrupt or glaringly obvious that something is wrong, you will be modded a troll because no one can insult Obama, that's only allowed for republicans.

You have to be more tactful and say their is your "hope and change". Or was it "hope for change"? and like finding a couple pennies when you want to get a soda from the machine, it's the "change that matters".

Justice (0, Redundant)

LividBlivet (898817) | about 5 years ago | (#29076877)

Justice, my ass.

death sentence for jaywalkers (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#29076889)

But it'll make a great deterrent won't it? That's all the excuse we need right?

morons.

Re:death sentence for jaywalkers (1)

Tolkien (664315) | about 5 years ago | (#29077173)

Heh, I've unwittingly jaywalked past a cop car before, did they stop me? Guess.

Attn liberals: you got served (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076915)

You voted affirmative action and now the nigger is fucking you up the ass with his big black cock and you still pretend it's better than George Bush fucking you up the ass with his puny white cock.

I am deterred (2, Interesting)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | about 5 years ago | (#29076919)

I am deterred. Not because of the threat of lawsuit, but because they don't make anything worth downloading.

Re:I am deterred (4, Insightful)

Spewns (1599743) | about 5 years ago | (#29077283)

I'm deterred as well. Deterred from ever buying movies and music again. I haven't in some time now - ever since this absurd crusade started - and I couldn't be happier. All one needs are public libraries and http://jamendo.com/ [jamendo.com] - there's much better music on here than any of the shit you're generally going to find on major record labels anyway. Why are people still donating money to these machines? You're subsidizing tyranny over your own population.

The Eighth Amendment (5, Informative)

theverylastperson (1208224) | about 5 years ago | (#29076933)

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

(c) 1791 - The People of the United States. All Rights Reserved.

Re:The Eighth Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077167)

(c) 1791 - Dead People of the United States. All Rights Reserved.

There, fixed that for you. Buggy whip/automobile, that sort.

What's that? You didn't think your own dogma and catchphrases could be turned around against you? You tell the RIAA to move out of the past by desperately clinging to statements ALSO stuck in the past?

And you think the RIAA won't use that against us? Wow. Dumber than advertised.

Re:The Eighth Amendment (5, Insightful)

etymxris (121288) | about 5 years ago | (#29077345)

I think the point is that the Founding Fathers were prescient in many things. It's not about being reactionary. It's about realizing "hey, maybe there's a good reason excessive fines were explicitly made unconstitutional."

Re:The Eighth Amendment (3, Insightful)

amentajo (1199437) | about 5 years ago | (#29077295)

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

<ianal>

I wish this were true. However, the Amendments to the United States Constitution limit the power of the State. The RIAA made a claim that the value of their foregone earnings is $1.92 million, and after that amount was deemed "accurate", the judge simply awarded that amount in accordance with the claim.

It's akin to this: Imagine I come up with some awesome, kickass software-product-to-end-all-software-products. This product is so awesome, I sell it for $1.92 million per license, and one of the terms of that license is that it only applies to the end user who purchased the product. Then, that user gives the bits to a friend, and that friend uses it. I now have a valid claim of $1.92 million against that other guy, and would expect a judge to award me no less than $1.92 million, assuming that I can prove somehow that the $1.92 million is the value of the software, probably by showing evidence that other customers are purchasing it at that price. A contrived example, but it should help to show why the Eighth Amendment does not apply to civil cases.

</ianal>

Re:The Eighth Amendment (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077367)

Enforcement of civil penalties lies with the government. How can they legally enforce a judgment which violates the 8th amendment? The fines are, after all, imposed by statute passed into law by Congress.

Re:The Eighth Amendment (2, Informative)

amentajo (1199437) | about 5 years ago | (#29077519)

These are not fines, they are damages awarded to the plaintiff.

Please refer to BFI, INC. V. KELCO DISPOSAL, INC., 492 U. S. 257 (1989) (link) [justia.com] . One of the holdings of that case was:

The Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment does not apply to punitive damages awards in cases between private parties; it does not constrain such an award when the government neither has prosecuted the action nor has any right to recover a share of the damages awarded."

Title 17, Chapter 5, Â504 (c) (2) (link) [cornell.edu] states:

In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000.

Thus, in a case of willful infringement, the statutory damages [wikipedia.org] are just that: damages awarded to the plaintiff, in a case between private parties.

Re:The Eighth Amendment (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077321)

Makes you wonder when these people will finally just throw out the constitution and say "Fuck you we make the rules"

with more bs like this i don't see why another civil war isn't around the corner...eventually people will wake up and say enough

8th Amendment (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076945)

The 8th amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

To the extent that this verdict was punative, it is an UNCONSTITUTIONAL fine in violation of the Bill of Fucking Rights. The Congress and the Judiciary both lack the authority to impose excessive fines. This can only be changed by amending the Constitution which requires ratification from 3/4ths of the States. /Suck it Department of Justice!

Re:8th Amendment (1)

the_macman (874383) | about 5 years ago | (#29077313)

Good luck with that. The constitution isn't exactly followed today. See (Habeas Corpus, The Federal Reserve, etc etc)

Re:8th Amendment (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29077421)

No, not really.

This is because congress and judiciary doesn't really follow the constitution. If they did, welfare would be gone, social security would be gone, Public health care would be a state issue as the federal government has no authority in it.

Anyways, the term excessive, just like reasonable, and many other terms of importance in the constitution has been changed over time. This is in order to get around that pesky requirement for changing the constitution. It's now a living document that means nothing if an angle can be found. It's sad but true, at least for some.

DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#29076947)

Interestingly, the DOJ brief asks the Court not to decide the constitutional question [blogspot.com] , requesting the Court to instead decide the issue on "common law" grounds, i.e. whether the award "shocks the conscience".

Also interesting in the DOJ's brief is that it totally ignores the actual wording and reasoning of the Supreme Court's "due process" jurisprudence concerning "punitive awards", which we have pointed out in the past [blogspot.com] . Presumably Ms. Thomas-Rasset's lawyers will bring this to the Court's attention.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077003)

So in your fantasy world, the penalty for shoplifting would be to ask the criminal to pay for the items he stole?

Let me just say (a) I wouldn't want to be a retailer/merchant in your world, and (b) I'm glad things don't work that way in the real world.

As an author, let me just say there should be a penalty -- a significant penalty -- for the wanton disregard for copyrights and intellectual property rights.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (1)

GeneralAntilles (571325) | about 5 years ago | (#29077075)

So in your fantasy world, the penalty for shoplifting would be to ask the criminal to pay for the items he stole?

So in your fantasy world, where are the magical non-items you believe were stolen from the RIAA?

Copyright infringement is not the same thing as property theft.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077125)

in both cases, there is one or more (often more, BTW) lost sales

in the end, the seller -- be it an artist, a record label, or a retailer -- is out cash

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077233)

in both cases, there is zero or more (often more, BTW) lost sales

Fixed it for you.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077087)

So in your fantasy world, the penalty for shoplifting would be to ask the criminal to pay for the items he stole?

Let me just say (a) I wouldn't want to be a retailer/merchant in your world, and (b) I'm glad things don't work that way in the real world.

As an author, let me just say there should be a penalty -- a significant penalty -- for the wanton disregard for copyrights and intellectual property rights.

^^I said that.^^ That was me.

You cannot say something anonymously and then expect to have the rights to it.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077103)

So in your fantasy world, the penalty for shoplifting would be beheading?

Let me just say (a) I wouldn't want to be a citizen in your world, and (b) fuck you.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077371)

OK, I'll bite.

If you put me in such a Solomonian false dilemma:

If I had to choose between (a) no penalty for shoplifting or (b) beheading, I would indeed choose B. Choice A does zero to curb the problem of shoplifting and in fact would just encourage it. The world would be overrun by shoplifters, comforted by the notion that their crime, if detected, would result in no penalty. Choice B, while too harsh, is the only choice that moves the outcome in the direction of justice for the victims (retailers and merchants).

So of the two false choices you present, the only choice that provides any justice for the victims is B. And a system of justice should always choose the result, of the available remedies (limited to 2 in your example), which provides maximum justice to the victims.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | about 5 years ago | (#29077121)

Confirmation that trolls cannot read. Please quote where NYCL said the proper fine was $.99 per song.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077339)

Well, they say not to feed the trolls but this seems like too much fun. In the state of New Mexico, for example, the law, with regards to shoplifting, says:

30-16-19. [Shoplifting;] definitions. (1965)

B. Whoever commits shoplifting when the value of the merchandise shoplifted:

(1) is two hundred fifty dollars ($250) or less is guilty of a petty misdemeanor;

30-16-21. Civil liability of adult shoplifter; penalty. (1977)
Any person who has reached the age of majority and who has been convicted of shoplifting under Section 30-16-20 NMSA 1978, may be civilly liable for the retail value of the merchandise, punitive damages of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), costs of the suit and reasonable attorney's fees. However, the merchant shall not be entitled to recover damages for the retail value of any recovered undamaged merchandise.

So since people supportive of the RIAA suit like to liken the act of downloading music to walking into a store and shoplifting a CD, let's go all out and see how that would play out. In NM, if I walk into a store, take a CD worth 1$ (under 250$) and containing one song, I would be liable for:

The value of the item: 1$
Punitive damages between 100 and 250.
(plus the cost of the suit and attorney's fees, but that's not covered in the 1.92 M$ settlement, so let's forget that).

So for one song, I would be liable for 251$. Assuming every song downloaded is a single, independent act of "copyright shoplifting", I'd be liable for an incredible 6024$ (for 24 songs, which I think is the number of songs at issue in the Thomas-Rasset case).

The point is that the sanctions in the current american copyright law were thought of with a different type of criminals in mind. The kind that gets a piece of sheet music, photocopies it 17 000 times and sells it as a product of the original company. Today, that translates to chinese illegal shops making copies of DVDs and selling them claiming they're a distributor of EMI. Those are the copyright infringers the current copyright law was meant to deal with. Not something akin to someone going into a store and shoplifting a 1$ item.

Now many will be quick to point out that one can upload on p2p networks. Unfortunately, distribution was not proven in this case (or in any other case the RIAA brought against individual p2p users). This isn't someone who set-up a website to distribute these 24 songs to millions of people. So far, all that was proven (I think... I'd have to check again to see if they even proved those songs were downloaded from an outside source and not ripped from a personally owned CD) is that 24 songs were downloaded from the internet.

So there you go. Using your shoplifting comparison, the verdict should have been just over 6000$.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077377)

I just love how "authors" invoke disregard for intellectual property rights but have no respect for that fact their ability to make money by cheaply making copies of their work is due to Mr. Gutenberg and many others, who, luckily for said authors, aren't here today to demand compensation or punitive damages because others are using their technology, seemingly without any kind of explicit permission.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 5 years ago | (#29077431)

As an author, let me just say there should be a penalty -- a significant penalty -- for the wanton disregard for copyrights and intellectual property rights.

Agreed, but I don't agree that this is anywhere near reasonable. Realistically speaking, unless nobody else was seeding the same content, this person probably seeded only about ten or twenty copies each of 30 songs. The fact that they, in turn, made copies for other people is immaterial. One person cannot reasonably be held liable for the actions of another.

The retail cost of these songs, then, was likely about $300-600, but the effective value for legal purposes is a third of that ($100-200) because we're talking about revenue for the record companies, and that's what they would get after you subtract out the distributor and retailer overhead. The right fine for a first offense is probably the cost of the goods plus a $500 fine (paid to the government, NOT the record companies) and six months probation. Even the initially proposed settlement amount was absurdly more than is reasonable.

So in your fantasy world, someone who shoplifts a point-and-shoot digital camera should face a multi-million-dollar fine. That's more than a significant penalty. That's downright criminal.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (1)

Trifthen (40989) | about 5 years ago | (#29077111)

This really is a terrible stance by the DOJ. Punitive rulings are blatantly unconstitutional, and effectively punish a person for what others might do. It's also completely pointless. Few, if any, regular people have anywhere near that kind of money. All that will happen if this stands is a time in bankruptcy court, which accomplishes absolutely nothing. They might as well raise the damages to fifty billion dollars under the same logic... considering: if one large amount will deter others, then an even larger amount is even better, right?

I honestly don't understand where this is going.

Re:DOJ asks court not to decide constitutional Q (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#29077419)

This really is a terrible stance by the DOJ. Punitive rulings are blatantly unconstitutional, and effectively punish a person for what others might do. It's also completely pointless. Few, if any, regular people have anywhere near that kind of money. All that will happen if this stands is a time in bankruptcy court, which accomplishes absolutely nothing. They might as well raise the damages to fifty billion dollars under the same logic... considering: if one large amount will deter others, then an even larger amount is even better, right? I honestly don't understand where this is going.

Maybe this guy [slashdot.org] can tell us.

Hey liberals! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076951)

How's that hope and change working out for you? This sounds like the exact same type of pro-corporate crap that went on under the Bush Administration.

Re:Hey liberals! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077163)

Meet the new assholes, same as the old assholes.

As much as Obama was a welcome change from the Bush administration, I'm afraid we're in the same situation we always have been -- half the country willing to give the government a free pass on absolutely anything merely because politics is like backing a football team to them.

The only difference is that it's the other half now (the "government can do no wrong" crowd of before has become the "government is pure evil" crowd now, and vice versa).

Fucking morons.

Re:Hey liberals! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29077445)

Being pro-corporate is not a bad thing. Everyone needs jobs. Being pro corporate above and beyond the health of society is. Don't be fooled into thinking the government should be anti-corporation because that will just leave you unemployed like a good bit of America is right now.

Deterence... Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076963)

Not only does this put the unfair burden of acting as an example to others on this woman, it also won't deter anyone. Hell, go to TPB right now and they have a link to the Joel Tenenbaum (sp.) case torrent file. Download it twice and you have over a million dollars in music.

Not justice (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076971)

Their reasoning is correct in that the only way to make any kind of difference is probably to make an example of a few people, but they are also basically admitting that this is not justice. Have they thought for a second of what would happen to the economy if these kinds of damages actually were to be forced from everyone who has downloaded?
It is sad to see the Departement of Justice agreeing with something like this.

Deterrence is widely accepted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076987)

If you asked on Slashdot, 'rich person X has for the last ten years dodged tax to a value of $10m with base rate interest, how much should they be made to repay?', the average amount proposed would be far in excess of $10m.

Exactly how high the multiplicator should be is another issue, but the concept of deterrent to punish or fine (much) more harshly than the value of the illegal benefit is widely accepted.

Re:Deterrence is widely accepted. (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | about 5 years ago | (#29077157)

Are you the same troll or a different one? How many here would say the penalty for your hypothetical situation should be 800 billion dollars? I would wager it would be a lot less than the number of asshats like you that think this is a valid penalty.

Strawman alert (1)

moz25 (262020) | about 5 years ago | (#29077315)

How about using an actual scenario to back up your point instead of a hypothetical scenario you yourself made up?

As for the multiplier value: a reasonable value may be in the range of 1.10 to 2.00. What we're complaining about is that this value is in the range of 1000-10000.

Why is this value so extremely high? Because many other people are guilty for the same "crime" as well. How about this: if many tens to hundreds of millions of people are supposedly breaking a law, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate the law?

Working as designed (2, Insightful)

Gabrill (556503) | about 5 years ago | (#29077007)

So in other words, the system is working as designed. If you have a problem with the laws, talk to Congress or the SCOTUS. It never fails to amaze me how our Congress escapes blame for the mess the US has become. Perhaps it's because the only check they have is for our nations one Chief of the Armed Forces (not busy at all . . .) has to proofread all the fine print that 535 corporate-influenced blowhards can vomit out, and decide if these expansive and pork-laden bills will do more good than harm.

Re:Working as designed (3, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 5 years ago | (#29077161)

If you have a problem with the laws, talk to Congress or the SCOTUS.

Why would congress listen to you, or me, or anyone else except a lobbyist with a lot of money? Individual people are just one vote and bring nothing else to the table. Most everyone on Capitol Hill is either corrupt or already has their own agenda that the wishes of the American people probably don't fit into. SCOTUS is even less accountable than congress is.

Re:Working as designed (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29077513)

They are all complicit, especially the congress and democrats. [youtube.com]

Should I remind us of the TARP legislation and the democrats crying about government money going to pay bonuses when is was in the legislation they passed and they are the ones who put it in the damn thing in the first place.

Being in congress is a status symbol for some. It isn't about what's done, it's about what they can claim they did. Even when they hopelessly fail like Ted Kennedy's HMOs created in the 1960's in which he is decrying as the reason for needing government health car right now. That's pretty trust worthy when they guys planning on fixing the mess is the ones who created it.

over-deterrence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077035)

There is such a thing as over-deterrence. Perhaps the DOJ has never heard of it...

The same stupid rationale for the Rockefeller Laws (4, Insightful)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | about 5 years ago | (#29077119)

In fact, the same stupid rationale for all draconian anti-drug laws: if you make the punishment really harsh, people won't do drugs. And just look how well it works! Everyone knows there aren't any junkies in New York!

I've said it before, but with a different target (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 5 years ago | (#29077123)

Wouldn't it be fun if these congress people were found to be using unlicensed navigation code on their own websites, with the original copyright claim removed along with the author's credit?

I mean, any website is more or less bound to serve up more than 24 copies. I mean, obviously these congress men and women will gladly pay these damages - it's not like they are unconstitutional or shocks the conciousness, right?

And again - a disclaimer: Don't go breaking into these people's web servers to do anything illegal ;)

Way to go new administration... (-1, Troll)

thestudio_bob (894258) | about 5 years ago | (#29077151)

Awesome! Way to go new administration, hand the legal system over to the corporations. I'm sure they have my best interest in mind. "Change you will be forced to believe in"

Just punishment? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29077153)

I believe there is something in the constitution about not 'making an example' of someone. Because it is clearly unjust to the person...

Aren't they required to? (4, Interesting)

Fished (574624) | about 5 years ago | (#29077171)

As I understand it, isn't the justice department required to act in defense of any law that is being constitutionally challenged? This is just the bizarre ethics of the legal profession... truth be damned, give the best defense (of the unconscionable) that you can.

Re:Aren't they required to? (0)

More Trouble (211162) | about 5 years ago | (#29077265)

Sorry no mod points! As I understand it, you are correct.

Copyright is not a right (5, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 5 years ago | (#29077193)

"The Copyright Act's statutory damages provision serves both to compensate and deter. Congress established a scheme to allow copyright holders to elect to receive statutory damages for copyright infringement instead of actual damages and profits because of the difficulty of calculating and proving actual damages."

Damages to WHAT, again? Cry me a fucking river, assholes. They make it sound like someone is actually stealing from someone else... and like copyright is actually a right. Well, no. Go check the US constitution: Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, aka "Copyright Clause". It says copyright exists to promote the progress of science and useful arts.

See? Copyright is not a right. It is not a property. It is not life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. It is a GOVERNMENT-GRANTED TEMPORARY MONOPOLY. It has a very specific purpose: an incentive to the creation of works of art and science, for the good of society as a whole; the welfare of copyright holders is not - AND SHOULD NOT BE - a concern at all.

Copyright was never "good" per se, more like a "necessary evil" - it is a temporary hindrance to everyone's access to a work of art or science, in exchange to the very existence of that given work. It is ludicrous to think a century-long copyright is an incentive to the creation of more works, therefore one must assume it must be reformed, reversed to a more sensible; but, frankly, I doubt it fulfills its supposed purpose at any length. Therefore it is simply "evil", and ought to be ABOLISHED.

then the guy declares bankruptcy (1)

h4x354x0r (1367733) | about 5 years ago | (#29077227)

And, while the RIAA will get to garnish this guy's paychecks for the rest of his life, they'll never get anywhere near the amount of the award. This will make a mockery of the legal system on both ends.

Made up numbers (1)

Alcoholist (160427) | about 5 years ago | (#29077247)

"Congress established a scheme to allow copyright holders to elect to receive statutory damages for copyright infringement instead of actual damages and profits because of the difficulty of calculating and proving actual damages."

You have to wonder about a statement like that. It's basically an admission that they have no way of knowing how much 'theft' has occurred, if any, so they arbitrarily assign a value based on, what, a guess? Even if this dude somehow managed to serve up 5000 complete songs to others, the real 'damages' are an order of magnitude lower than this 1.92M judgment.

It worked for domain tasting... (5, Insightful)

ZackSchil (560462) | about 5 years ago | (#29077249)

Piracy should be dealt with in the same way ICAAN dealt with domain tasting. For individuals running a P2P program in which they gain no money from the distribution, $30 per song is plenty for compensation. $100 per song is perfectly fine for punitive damages. If that's not enough money to make up for legal fees, get together with law enforcement and legislators and create a system similar to parking or speeding tickets. That'll keep costs down.

If I got caught illegally distributing 10 songs and got slapped with a $1300 fine (enough to purchase 100x the number of songs I got for free), I'd think twice about piracy. And that's an amount I can pay off. I keep that much in reserve at all times for car repairs, emergencies, etc.

1.92 million dollars is some fucking criminal, life-ruining BULLSHIT. Bankruptcy and garnished wages for life is not an acceptable outcome for a truly petty crime.

Someone needs to get into the next town hall meeting Obama attends and ask this question. Someone needs to get the words in roughly the form I have written here to the president of the United States on a televised, public event.

pour encourager... (1)

julian67 (1022593) | about 5 years ago | (#29077301)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pour_encourager_les_autres [wikipedia.org]

"Byng's execution was satirized by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad; and is told that "in this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others" (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres)."

1 in a million (1)

cfvgcfvg (942576) | about 5 years ago | (#29077319)

in an environment where many violators believe that they will go unnoticed

In other words, we can't prosecute everyone, so we will scare everyone we can by destroying the lives of the people we do prosecute. It's like a reverse lottery and all you have to do to enter is download a song or two.

Oh Boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077327)

Guess my 5 terrabyte music collection will end the national debt, when they catch me.

No deterrence, just a sign that the law is bad. (4, Interesting)

moz25 (262020) | about 5 years ago | (#29077333)

If copyright law is so easily and repeatedly broken by tens to hundreds of millions of users, then that should be taken as a strong signal that this law is counter to the values of society and inherently anti-democratic.

Make the law fit reality, not the other way around.

VERY dangerous precedent. (0, Offtopic)

seeker_1us (1203072) | about 5 years ago | (#29077349)

Now what will stop douchebags like Rupert Murdoch from suing an individual for millions of dollars if that individual makes a webpage with quotes having more than a few words from one of Murdoch's newspaper stories?

What we need.. (1)

nanospook (521118) | about 5 years ago | (#29077379)

1. An anonymous service that masks our downloads.. (isn't pirate bay doing something like this?)
2. Such a service linked in with a bittorrent client..
3. A national pirate party such as other countries are setting up to represent the people against the corporation..
4. A total morotorium on purchasing media by the common man. If they are making no profits, they will go away, but the music won't. I know I know, it would be hard to accomplish.. but its a thought.. How many slashdot members are there in America?

Don't buy music EVER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077395)

That's the solution to all this--don't EVER buy music, even if it only costs a few cents a song.

I guarantee these people will become a lot nicer, the minute they get laid off.

I don't think she paid enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29077461)

if we count the alien intelligences that have likely been, and will be, entertained, for free.

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