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RIAA To Appeal Thomas-Rasset Ruling

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the you-know-they-would dept.

The Courts 275

frank_adrian314159 writes "The RIAA will appeal the ruling that reduced Jammie Thomas-Rasset's $1.92 million fine for file sharing to $54,000. '"It is a shame that Ms. Thomas-Rasset continues to deny any responsibility for her actions rather than accept a reasonable settlement offer and put this case behind her," said RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth.' Joe Sibley, an attorney for Thomas-Rasset, said his client would not settle for the $25,000 that the RIAA has asked for. '"Jammie is not going to agree to pay any amount of money to them," Sibley said, adding that it doesn't matter to Thomas-Rasset whether the damages are $25,000 or $1.92 million.' In addition, Thomas-Rasset's attorneys say that, win or lose, they plan to appeal the constitutionality of the fine."

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275 comments

Mispleling in summory (4, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957500)

The RIAA will appeal the ruling that reduced Jammie Thomas-Rasset's $1.92 fine for file sharing to $54,000

That wouldn't be a reduction. That would be a dramatic increase.

Re:Mispleling in summory (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957546)

Yeah, I'd give 'em two ones and tell them to keep the change.

Re:Mispleling in summory (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957592)

Well, you have to think about it under more. This story is NOT about pizza!

Re:Mispleling in summory (3, Insightful)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957614)

Giving them even $2 would set a precedent, not that not having precedent or completely ignoring law has stopped the RIAA before.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957866)

Yeah, I'd give 'em two ones and tell them to keep the change.

Yes, I can see their collections agent accosting them saying, "I want my two dollars!"

Re:Mispleling in summory (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30957880)

You are too nice. I would pay them in pennies.

Come to think of it, even if I had to settle for $25,000 I would still pay them in pennies.

Re:Mispleling in summory (3, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958462)

You are too nice. I would pay them in pennies.

Come to think of it, even if I had to settle for $25,000 I would still pay them in pennies.

I would donate good money, pennies of course, to see that.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

cenc (1310167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958146)

how about a fake $2 bill?

Re:Mispleling in summory (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958224)

Just give them photocopies. After all, she's being sued for distributing low-quality (MP3) copies of their songs, she should pay with low-quality copies of money.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

cenc (1310167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958300)

Better yet, monopoly money. Do not pas go, do not collect $2.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958550)

Yeah, I'd give 'em two ones and tell them to keep the change.

This isn't about the money though, and even if the courts knocked it down to that number, I don't think defendant would go along with it so willingly. Personally, I'd give 'em the two bucks too, but I'd demand my change back from those fuckers.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30957640)

The problem with slashdot is that the ADDers see just one typo, which everyone has spotted anyway, and it derails the entire topic.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

greenreaper (205818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958228)

On Slashdot, the message *is* the topic.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958598)

The summary? Fair game. Would you rather have GNAA first posts? I for one would, but...

More irksome are otherwise excellent threads being derailed down the line because otherwise excellent highly-technical posts, the kind which make the trolls shut up and listen, have an apostrophe or "their/there" misuse.

I could post "nigger" all day and still be less effective than the horde of grammar nazis who think they're so smart just because they passed English 101. Those kind of fuckers are even worse in a real-life classroom.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

fatalwall (873645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957658)

its not a misspelling. Its forgetting to put million after the first number.

Re:Mispleling in summory (4, Interesting)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957734)

RIAA offered to settle for 25 grand, with some conditions that would make the lawsuit results not apply to other trials, if I understood correctly. I believe they feared this would cause a precedent and as a consequence they'd get such small fines.

Now of course they play the good guys

Re:Mispleling in summory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958496)

Of course they do; they're talking to the press. That's the universal signal to not act like a douchebag, no matter how big of a one they may be.

Even politicians know that.

Unconstitutional? (3, Informative)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957904)

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Re:Unconstitutional? (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957954)

"for limited times"

Author's life is NOT a limited time it is an indefinite time which while it nearly certainly will end it is not certain to end.

Re:Unconstitutional? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958126)

What? Of course it will end. Everybody dies.

Re:Unconstitutional? (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958176)

But when it gets retroactively extended again...

Re:Unconstitutional? (3, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958186)

What? Of course it will end. Everybody dies.

Are you sure?

Re:Unconstitutional? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958660)

Except for Corporations who have all the rights of a person, none of the responsibilities , and are basically immortal.

Re:Unconstitutional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958494)

Well, that's almost certainly been true up to now (anybody for whom it wasn't true would have been smart to keep a very low profile [sfreviews.net] ). That may not always be true.

Re:Unconstitutional? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958084)

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. "
1.92 million dollars for 24 songs downloaded (total price less than $24) is certainly an excessive fine; and considering that most people won't make $2 million total in their lifetimes, is a cruel punishment.

Re:Mispleling in summory (3, Insightful)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957918)

If you read the rest of the article, you would realize that's a reduction from 1.92 MILLION. later on it properly places the decimal point.

Quote -> it doesn't matter to Thomas-Rasset whether the damages are $25,000 or $1.92 million.' In addition, Thomas-Rasset's attorneys say that, win or lose, they plan to appeal the constitutionality of the fine."

God BLESS this woman.

- Dan.

Re:Mispleling in summory (3, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958252)

God BLESS this woman

Why? She illegally shared a huge number of songs. When caught, she tried to frame her kids for it. She tried to destroy evidence. She lied repeatedly under oath.

Given a chance to settle for a reasonable amount (about $1/song for the number of songs she actually pirated), she refused.

Why exactly should we support or admire this moron?

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958374)


Given a chance to settle for a reasonable amount (about $1/song for the number of songs she actually pirated), she refused.

If she refused to settle for a $1 for each song that was actually proven to be distributed, then yes, she is a moron. Could you please provide a citation here? Every story I've seen on this case states the RIAA asked for amounts in the thousands.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958588)

They asked for $25,000 in their latest offer, which is about $1 per song as the gp suggested.

Re:Mispleling in summory (4, Informative)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958782)

I thought they had only proven 24 songs. At least that's what the article says.

"Last year, a federal jury ruled Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four from Brainerd, willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs."

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

DMiax (915735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958830)

No, that takes into account the number of uploads which is completely arbitrary. The number of songs taken into court is something like 24 IIRC.

Re:Mispleling in summory (2, Informative)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958590)

Why exactly should we support or admire this moron?

Because she is dedicated to having the unconstitutional statutory copyright-infringement damages declared unconstitutional. If I was in her position, I would offer to settle the case for a payment of $2-million.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958614)

Why exactly should we support or admire this moron?

Because information wants to be free? :)

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958888)

Why? She illegally shared a huge number of songs. When caught, she tried to frame her kids for it. She tried to destroy evidence. She lied repeatedly under oath.

Lying under oath is perjury, and that is a criminal offense... something for a federal prosecutor to handle. Such matters do not apply in deciding an award in civil litigation, and for such matters to be taken into account and thereby have the award raised to an obscene amount would set dangerous precedent in future RIAA litigation regardless of whether the future defendants lie like Thomas-Rasset.

We can deal with the perjury later when this civil suit is dealt with, and for Thomas-Rasset to accept anything other than a decent penalty of perhaps several dollars per song would make her a coward in the eyes of the public, even though the more she pushes this case in the court system the more lawyer money she will have to pay for both parties... but that money wouldn't technically be a part of the "reward" and therefore wouldn't set precedent in future cases. She IS guilty, though, and WILL be paying money.

Re:Mispleling in summory (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958904)

God BLESS this woman.

Huh? God bless Gandhi - he refused to bow down to the 'Evil-Ones' of his situation, but didn't try to lie, cheat, or blame his kids for anything.

Seriously, blaming your children of something because they can't be persecuted isn't worthy of any admiration. If a kid blames someone else for something she did, I'd spank her.

Being stubborn in the face of adversity is not admirable when you only do it because all other attempts of squirming away have failed.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957932)

I still wouldn't pay it.

Re:Mispleling in summory (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958074)

And I thought the summary was sarcastically alluding to the fact that the actual monetary damages were more on the order of a couple bucks.

Re:Mispleling in summory (5, Funny)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958432)

No, the summary is correct: The $1.92 fine is in 2008 dollars. The $54,000 is in 2010 dollars.

Reduced? (-1, Offtopic)

Silent Objection (948709) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957532)

"The RIAA will appeal the ruling that reduced Jammie Thomas-Rasset's $1.92 fine for file sharing to $54,000.

Those bastards, how could anyone afford a $1.92 fine? Oh, I think you forgot the word "million." I guess that's more reasonable.

The PIMP strategy (0, Offtopic)

viraltus (1102365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957556)

Thy brutally beat one of their sex-slaves and the rest won't dare to try to break free.... Ins't it similar to something is going on here?

Ah, to be judgement proof... (4, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957582)

Jammie Thomas-Rasset lost in court. She should have settled in the first place.

But really, she's judgement proof: whether its $50K or $5M or $5B, they can't get blood from that stone, she's Judgement Proof [wikipedia.org] .

So really, its principle on both sides. The RIAA wants a scary number to prevent solvent people from fighting these cases, and she wants the RIAA to get zippo. Neither will give in, and dollars-to-doughnuts says the judgement of at least $50K will withstand appeals and the RIAA will be left to try to collect it before just giving up, with both sides in that case winning: the RIAA gets their huge verdict through and tested, and Jammie Thomas-Rasset gets to tell the RIAA's bill collectors to go F-themselves.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (2, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957778)

Not if Thomas-Rasset refuses to settle. Either they will set a precedent that the fines are ridiculously high, or the RIAA will win the appeal and this matter will head to the Supreme Court.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957856)

The RIAA will win the appeal, it will head to the Supreme Court, and they will uphold the damages. From FindLaw [findlaw.com] :

the Court has held the Clause inapplicable to civil jury awards of punitive damages in cases between private parties, ''when the government neither has prosecuted the action nor has any right to receive a share of the damages awarded.''

If it wasn't clear before, recent rulings have made it abundantly clear that you should expect no justice of any kind from the Supreme Court.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (4, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957978)

You misunderstand the precedent. Your cite says that that the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment does not apply to excessive fines when the government had nothing to do with the fine. That makes sense because the Eighth Amendment bars the government. The Supreme Court has held that excessive punitive damages violate the Constitution, but the Due Process clause, not the Eighth Amendment. [wikipedia.org] I note without further comment that the person getting screwed in that case was BMW.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958108)

Hey, I don't like Roberts either but to uphold the damages in this case they have to throw out nearly 50 years of work saying punitive damages in Civil cases can't exceed 10 times the damages (effectively setting the max at 9x damages). There were cases as recent as the LAST session of the SOCOTUS where they upheld the 9X rule in civil cases without government involvement. I wouldn't put it past Roberts to issue a verdict that completely contradicts other verdicts but he's gonna have to work hard to say more than 10X is reasonable, the last case I remember which was the class action lawsuit by businesses affected by the Alaska Oil Spill (notice this was a private civil suit) locked punitive damages at no more than 9X actual documented losses with a verdict of 6-3 or 7-2 (can't remember). Even with the new justices in court voting for the damages at least 2 other justices would have to turn all their previous votes on their head to vote in support.

The most reasonable situation that would put it in the RIAA's favor without overturning precedent would be for the appeals court to refuse to review and the SOCOTUS to refuse to review. That way they wouldn't have to vote against constitutional policy they have been working towards for more than half a century. If the court reviews this case I simply don't believe Roberts could convince all the others to throw out the 9X rule. You have to understand that in all the other cases, they have argued with a large majority in the court that it's simply unconstitutional for Congress to allow punitive damages that are more than 9X damages and for Judges to allow those damages to stand. Any other verdict would simply increase their case load as all the Class actions appeal to be exempted from the 9x limit they have established.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958940)

The part I've never understood is how one determines damages from what is in essence a victimless crime. What's the metric the court has accepted on this?

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957944)

The District Court judge already called the $1.92 million fine "monstrous and shocking." With a few more victories like this, RIAA can really go out of business already.

Collection is not the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30957826)

The point is for there to be news items that say:

RIAA wins 54 MILLION DOLLARS in Illegal Music Download case!

It's not about the money per se, it's about media splash to hopefully deter others from doing the same. The IRS uses the same tactic - they just go after the big fish ( Like Martha Stewart) and theoretically, it will dissuade others from cheating on their taxes. Nobody there really believes that they can recover their "losses" by suing. Anyway the real losses, from a strict dollars and cents perspective, are not worth suing over, This is PR via the courts.

Re:Collection is not the point (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957862)

The point is for there to be news items that say:

RIAA wins 54 MILLION DOLLARS in Illegal Music Download case!

It's not about the money per se, it's about media splash to hopefully deter others from doing the same. The IRS uses the same tactic - they just go after the big fish ( Like Martha Stewart) and theoretically, it will dissuade others from cheating on their taxes. Nobody there really believes that they can recover their "losses" by suing. Anyway the real losses, from a strict dollars and cents perspective, are not worth suing over, This is PR via the courts.

Small correction. Martha was busted for insider trading, not cheating on her taxes.

Re:Collection is not the point (2, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957936)

Small correction. Martha was busted for insider trading, not cheating on her taxes.

No, but thank you for playing. She was convicted of lying to a federal agent during an investigation even though a) she was not Mirandized, b) she was not under oath and c) what she lied about was not against the law.

Re:Collection is not the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958130)

And here I thought it was because most of the recipes in her books and magazine taste like shit.

Re:Collection is not the point (2, Informative)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958180)

a) She didn't have to be Mirandized. She wasn't arrested at that point.
b) Doesn't matter. She wasn't in a court of law.
c) Doesn't matter. It's against the law to obstruct justice and lie to the FBI.

Read item 23 [thesmokinggun.com] and item 26-27 [thesmokinggun.com]

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957868)

the RIAA gets their huge verdict through and tested

It would be a very pyrrhic victory for the RIAA, given that they originally wanted two million, and the precedent would be set for a fortieth of that.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957892)

They don't need it "through and tested", the 1.92M$ verdict went around the world and they got all the FUD they could possibly want. The idea that you can be fined millions of dollars for file sharing will stay in the public mind regardless, until there's a decision that says you definitely can't. So the RIAA got very little to gain and everything to lose here.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957980)

So the RIAA got [...] everything to lose here.

And I hope they do.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (2, Interesting)

GasparGMSwordsman (753396) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957928)

I disagree. This whole set of statues is vague, badly worded and unethical. What do you do when a law is bad, vague and unethical? You either change the statute or you have a series of court cases where case law puts a more definite explanation of the law.

I am very much hoping that this will end up in at the SCOUTS so we can have a clear answer on many of these ambiguous legal issues.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (4, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957938)

The only problem with being judgment proof is you lose any opportunity to have a career in the future. To remain judgment proof, you can never take a job where the wages can be attached. Therefore you remain a ward of the state on welfare for the rest of your life with only the guarantee of any real job being robbed. Working like deadbeat dads with cash under the table is the only way to raise your ability to purchase a car, insurance, housing, etc.

I don't expect the RIAA's bill collectors to ever let up looking for the money. They have a strong incentive to never let her rise out of poverty.

They seem to think they have the right to be completely inhumane in her treatment and show no attempt at compassion in the least.

This stance will of course come back to haunt them. I and many others have simply stopped supporting the industry in any way. I don't buy from any label involved in this and won't until they change. The change doesn't appear to be any time soon.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958490)

Have I missed something here? I'm not from the US but I'm pretty sure that you can declare bankruptcy there.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958814)

You can also leave the country.

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958836)

This stance will of course come back to haunt them. I and many others have simply stopped supporting the industry in any way. I don't buy from any label involved in this and won't until they change. The change doesn't appear to be any time soon.

When they began their bullying 10+ years ago I committed myself to stop buying CDs until they stopped. If you walk into my place-- right there against the wall is a rack piled full of CDs, frozen in time. I was a fairly heavy buyer, but one day it was enough is enough and I stopped cold. No more CDs, no iTunes Store, nothing. I didn't even buy them as gifts any more.

I can't imagine how many thousands of dollars the RIAA member companies [wikipedia.org] lost from me alone. Ten years of regular music purchases stopped. And I've missed out on quite a bit too, no doubt (not the band), but I've learned to enjoy my collection and listen to non-label music now and see bands live. I don't pirate music at all, although I do listen to the radio.

My money went elsewhere.

Maybe I've outgrown a lot of the crap too that I might have otherwise bought, but I have to say, y'know, I've just quietly stopped being their customers, and I'm certainly able to hold out for decades more if necessary. It's a lot easier to not buy music than to buy it.

(Movies are harder. I haven't made that commitment yet. Damn you, MPAA.)

Re:Ah, to be judgement proof... (1)

arthurh3535 (447288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958262)

$50,000 (down from the millions, IIRC) is seriously bad news for the litigant RIAA. That means that they have to make money from suing normal people at only $2,000 per song. Think of that effort on their part and they can 'only' prove minor damages.

Yeah, they probably aren't making money on any of these, but a standardized and substantially less fee means that their numbers they use in their pirating statistics just got kicked into the ground. An actual judgment means that anti-RIAA folks can actually state a much more true number that isn't 'billions of lost dollars per year' and back it up on Capitol Hill.

Cheap Settlement (0, Redundant)

syntap (242090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957586)

I wouldn't settle for $1.92 either, those RIAA jerks aren't getting a penny!

I want my two dollars!

It's not an appeal (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957660)

I don't know why the story says it's an "appeal". It's not an appeal. It's just a new trial of the appropriate statutory damages.

Re:It's not an appeal (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30957872)

Well, it also says that she got fined somewhat less than $2, so maybe they should stick to getting the stories on this from you :-)

Re:It's not an appeal (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957888)

So - in a trial limited to "the issue of the appropriate amount of statutory damages", what really is discussed during the trial?

The RIAA has consistently been working the angle of statutory damages and avoiding the question of actual damages.

Are they going to have to argue actual damages moving forward?

It sounds like the trial would be a trial of the RIAA this time around, and not so much on Jammie Thomas.

It would seem that they would be limited too, in the discussion of the damages by the tracks she was determined to have infringed on copyrights, and in the damages suffered by the plaintiff's individually, not on the industry as a whole.

It would be a welcome discussion to hear:
1) How many copies of these particular recordings were found to have existed?
2) How many downloads of these particular recordings were estimated to have occurred?
3) How much money did each of these tracks earn in the year prior to the copyright infringement?
4) How much money did each of these tracks earn the year's during and after the copyright infringement?

Re:It's not an appeal (0)

cenc (1310167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958192)

They can perhaps argue the cruel and unusual punishment of such a large award all the way to the supreme court that then decides songs are only worth 0.01 cents each. The win is the publicity on the way, and a martyr for the next cases no matter where it stops. It is a loose / loose for the recording industry no mater how they do it. The only way they win is if she settles.

Re:It's not an appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958368)

Sorry to reply to an unrelated topic, but I wanted to ask you specifically.

How is it that Jammie can be held liable for causing say 2,000 less sales when she distributed 24 files probably less than an average of 2 times each? Isn't she only liable for the copies she sent out and each of those people are responsible for the copies they sent out and so on? Why can the RIAA hold her liable for -all- indirect copies and go sue some of the other people who were probably online at the same time too? Further, has anyone addressed whether sending 2k, or 100k or 1MB or even 99.99% of a 3- 6MB song is really infringement? What if I download (possibly from many sources) or upload 99.99% but don't get a critical byte of the header and the song is unplayable and thus not a lost sale.

Has anyone brought these issues up in court?

The real question is, what's the goal here? (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957726)

The real question is what the goal of copyright law is. If the goal is to encourage innovation and ensure property owners get paid when their work is used, then there's no need for huge punitive damages. (You still want some, because the system can't send everybody who breaks the law a bill, since it doesn't know who they are, so it has to discourage people from breaking the law.) But if we somehow feel that this is a fundamental and huge violation of the copyright rights and that those rights are very highly valued by our society, then an extreme penalty might be justified. In either case, as the court rightly pointed out, $54K is more than sufficient. (Especially absent showing of commercialization or massive redistribution.)

Personally, I'm a fan of a sort of sliding scale of copyright protections--enough to encourage anyone to innovate, but not so much that things don't enter the public domain. When someone has made the greater of $10M or Cost+100% on an artistic work, it should either enter the public domain automatically or be licensable for a nominal amount. (Perhaps the percentage or absolute amount will vary based on the kind of work.)

Re:The real question is, what's the goal here? (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957852)

I actually agree in principal with this. The sliding scale seems very reasonable. That said, there still needs to be a time-limit as in the case of almost all books, very few will ever make $1million let alone $10M, but a select few will. I would also think that copyright needs to get properly applied when it is used as well. In the case of a book, or song lyrics, or just about every other case of "written works", except computer software, the author owns the work (which is why they get a royalty). I believe software writers should have the same benefits, especially in the face of much evidence that the work conditions in many places would be called "forced labor" in any other profession.

Re:The real question is, what's the goal here? (1)

GasparGMSwordsman (753396) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957998)

Authors of software own the source code exactly like a book author owns the book.

Re:The real question is, what's the goal here? (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958650)

To clarify just a little, most of the poor slugs writing software are employees, so their work is owned by the employer. Most of the people writing books are not employees of the publisher, so their work is owned by them until they sell it to a publisher.

Re:The real question is, what's the goal here? (2, Insightful)

unwastaken (1586569) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957874)

Interesting idea, but due to Hollywood Accounting [wikipedia.org] it would probably never be feasible in practice. I'd accept a return to reasonable copyright terms as an alternative.

Re:The real question is, what's the goal here? (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957942)

The real question is what the goal of copyright law is. My take would be that one the original artist is dead, further extensions of the copyright on their work do very little to encourage them to produce more. The copyright on Micky Mouse should have died with Walt, not been extended to 75 years.

Interesting side question: J.D. Salinger just died after writing profusely (and profanely) for over 50 years. Much of that will now presumably be published. Does the copyright start on the date he finished writing it, or on the date it is originally published? In this case, copyright law has done absolutely nothing to encourage him to produce more... why should his works still be under copyright 50 years from now?

Re:The real question is, what's the goal here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958582)

His family can still benefit from his work by collecting royalties. That's also part of the intent of copyrights as well--for creators and their beneficiaries to be rewarded for their work.

Re:The real question is, what's the goal here? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958880)

The real question is what the goal of copyright law is. If the goal is to encourage innovation and ensure property owners get paid when their work is used, then there's no need for huge punitive damages.

The goal of copyright law is to allow those who bought the law to have complete control over what the rest of us do with any creative work, ever, no matter what the cost to us. Given that, the $1.3 million dollar judgement is quite low.

My sentiments exactly (4, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957884)

...it doesn't matter to Thomas-Rasset whether the damages are $25,000 or $1.92 million. That's what I've always felt about people suing me... If I'm going to declare bankruptcy to get out of the debt anyway, does it really matter how much they are suing me for? They are going to collect the same amount anyway! (This might not be true in this case, "Intentional Torts" may not be dischargable in bankruptcy, but IANAL so I couldn't tell you whether or not that applies to this case.)

As a side note, I once got out of a $500,000 lawsuit by taking the opposing lawyer outside, pointing to my old ragged motorhome, and telling him "That's my only asset; I'm living in it, and I'm pretty sure I owe more on it than it is worth... you're welcome to try to take it away from me, but you're going to have to find it first! Now, how much effort do you really want to put into this case?" Once you convince them their best case scenario will simply drive you into bankruptcy and they will collect nothing anyway, they're not so keen on taking cases on contingency anymore -- especially meritless ones.

Re:My sentiments exactly (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958038)

the opposing lawyer should be disbarred.

Re:My sentiments exactly (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958206)

Or promoted, for being sensible.

Re:My sentiments exactly (2, Insightful)

orlanz (882574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958214)

I think all lawyers should be disbarred, but that's another topic for another time.

Re:My sentiments exactly (3, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958786)

the opposing lawyer should be disbarred.

Not if the opposing lawyer went straight to his client and said "Hey, be sensible here." The lawyer does not tell the lawyers client how they will proceed. It's the other way around. The lawyer interprets the law for the client, and tells them what is reasonable, and what is not. If the lawyer's wages are based on winnings, then the lawyer can also decide that it's not worth his time (i.e., no winnings = no wage). But if a client has the money, and wants to continue to pay despite good advice, a lawyer will happily do your bidding, even if it is futile.

Personally, I'm in favor of imposing reality on people. Lawyers can be assholes for many reasons, but not working for free is not one of them.

Re:My sentiments exactly (2, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958360)

The RIAA isn't hiring lawyers; they are lawyers. They really have nothing to lose from dragging this out as long as possible.

Even if the $54k settlement goes to the SCOTUS, it will stand. And $54k is plenty of deterrent for 90% of the US. That's about 10~15 years of garnished wages for most people.

Re:My sentiments exactly (1)

rmushkatblat (1690080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958602)

You mean 1-2 years, surely?

Re:My sentiments exactly (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958932)

How would you pay off a $54k settlement in 2 years? Even if you have a $100k/year job, you probably don't have the money to pay off that much debt that quickly.

Appeal the constitutionality? (3, Insightful)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30957922)

Unless the RIAA has figured out a way to successfully amend the U.S. Constitution through the courts(hint: they cannot), then there is not a damned thing that is going to change. I believe that corporations should be limited to receiving the real losses for IP theft. If a person is caught stealing one song, then the RIAA would get $0.99 USD, and if someone steals a movie, then the MPAA would get the cost of a movie ticket or DVD/Blu-ray disc, depending on which version is stolen. It is only fair, as these assholes do not deserve to turn a higher profit on each violation because the hire the right lawyer.

Now, any fines the state places on the violator is a different story, but that is up to the people, not the MPAA, or RIAA, etc.

Re:Appeal the constitutionality? (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958010)

Although I'm sure at this point, even though the actual damages would by 0.99 per song, the court costs / lawyers fees are easily 25 thousand.

The point is, she *has* been found guily, and there comes a point where the appeal and counter-appeal process eventually has to end. At that point, do you want the RIAA claiming a 1.92 million "victory" or a 25 thousand "victory" ?

Re:Appeal the constitutionality? (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958236)

Well, figuring it at 24 songs at $1 each and adding treble damages to punish, the total award should be about $96. I think that is the victory I would like to see the RIAA be able to claim.

Re:Appeal the constitutionality? (2, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958288)

If a person is caught stealing one song, then the RIAA would get $0.99 USD

What about when they upload the song? As far as I know, the cost of a license from any major label to make and distribute an arbitrary number of copies of a song goes for considerably more then $0.99. The cost of that kind of license would be much more sensible.

Re:Appeal the constitutionality? (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958466)


What about when they upload the song? As far as I know, the cost of a license from any major label to make and distribute an arbitrary number of copies of a song goes for considerably more then $0.99. The cost of that kind of license would be much more sensible.

The industry could state the cost of that kind of license is a godzillian trillion dollars, so no, it is not sensible at all. Actual cost per song plus treble damages for willful distribution is the more than enough.

Willful? What Willful (1)

bangzilla (534214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958100)

From the article: "Federal law says recording companies are entitled to $750 to $30,000 per illegally downloaded song - but a jury may raise that to as much as $150,000 per track if it finds the infringements were willful."

Huh? So it *is* possible to use the "cat walked on my keyboard" defense and win? How can downloading music without adhering to the defined licensing terms not be willful? Ignorance is no defense for breaking the law (no matter if if it is a good or bad law).

It's not about downloading (1)

Patman64 (1622643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958190)

From the article: "Federal law says recording companies are entitled to $750 to $30,000 per illegally downloaded song - but a jury may raise that to as much as $150,000 per track if it finds the infringements were willful."

Huh? So it *is* possible to use the "cat walked on my keyboard" defense and win? How can downloading music without adhering to the defined licensing terms not be willful? Ignorance is no defense for breaking the law (no matter if if it is a good or bad law).

It's not about downloading music. It's about sharing music, i.e. making it available for other people to download. If you are somehow not aware of the fact that the music you downloaded or ripped is being made available to the world, and you can make this case, I suppose that would count as not willful infringement. However, good luck proving it, especially against multi-million dollar MAFIAA lawyers.

Re:It's not about downloading (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958336)

It also doesn't count as wilful if you are not aware that the work is copyrighted. You might be able to argue this if she downloaded the music from someone else (so it didn't come with a copyright notice) and believed that it was shared by the band for promotion, but she'd have to convince the court, and that's not very likely.

Her lawyers really dropped the ball in this case. For example, the RIAA's lawyers argued that she is responsible for the transitive closure of the people who downloaded the song from her, but if that's the case then whoever she downloaded it from is responsible for her distribution and so she is not.

Re:It's not about downloading (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958944)

For example, the RIAA's lawyers argued that she is responsible for the transitive closure of the people who downloaded the song from her, but if that's the case then whoever she downloaded it from is responsible for her distribution and so she is not.

That's not true. They could be responsible and she could be responsible. In fact, both they and she could be 100% responsible, as the law is neither mathematics nor justice.

Re:Willful? What Willful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958286)

Ignorance is no defense for breaking the law.

Except that here it is. If you are ignorant of the law, you still can be convicted. However, the fines for listening to a song from youtube without realizing that you are breaking the law are less than when you intentionally ignore the law in your own benefit.

its not 'greed'. (4, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958196)

its distortion of justice, abuse of law, and exploitation of democracy.

private interests are suppressing individual citizens to protect their near monopoly gained profits through legal system. in addition to that, they buy lawmakers and manufacture laws that will protect ill gained profits in expense of freedoms of citizens, as in the acta case.

yet still, a lot of you just label this with a simple, insufficient word, 'greed'. this is not greed. its beyond greed. it has started to become a precise replication of feudal society back in middle ages, albeit, the feudalism has democracy as a storefront. we are supposedly free, yet, as citizens, our relative wealth and liberties compared to those small minority percentage on top of the pyramid didnt change by comparison. neither did the percentages of the wealthy and the ordinary had changed. just, the average standard of living globally has changed. back in middle ages wealthy could afford stone mansions adorned with gold while eating exquisite food whereas the ordinary person would live in thatched roof wooden huts eating gritty bread and cheese, now the wealthy can afford to take private jets halfway over the world on a whim while having hundred thousand dollar champagnes whereas the ordinary person has to work his/her butt off for your average meal. everything is the same in regard to justice in the society.

now, just like everything else that has happened before and had an effect to equalize the situation, empowering the ordinary people and making them less dependent on rich overlords, internet is being suppressed on numerous excuses and grounds, one of which being 'intellectual property rights'. if you put this in a different context with different wording, like into middle ages, you would find that it has no difference from the concept of 'lord's hunting rights in the forest'. and internet is very very detrimental to those 'rights'. it empowers individuals, ordinary people can rise up to noticeable wealth without having to be subservient to any overlord on top with shareholdership or conglomerate ties, and become a threat to existing aristocracy.

no, this is not a matter of simple 'greed'. this is a matter of freedom, and unfortunately, its being fought in the same basic ideals on which it was fought back in middle ages - inequality created due to skewed ownership rights and resulting control scheme. which is unfortunate, because it shows that nothing changed in principle compared to the middle ages, despite the stage and the costumes have changed.

Re:its not 'greed'. (0, Troll)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958406)

private interests are suppressing individual citizens to protect their near monopoly gained profits through legal system. in addition to that, they buy lawmakers and manufacture laws that will protect ill gained profits in expense of freedoms of citizens, as in the acta case.

It's easy to score cheap points with statements like this--or in Slashdot terms, an easy way to get some quick karma--but let's be realistic. Imagine a world where these entities do not exert any undue influence. That is, they are who they are and they want what they want, but they do not lobby, they do not make campaign contributions, they accept any decisions without commentary. In other words, the politicans get to decide all of the issues purely on their merits without any other considerations.

Do you really think they're going to side with you? Do you really think any significant number of politicians are going to decide that more good is done by a person's right to create a Mickey Mouse porno or what-have-you than is generated by allowing Disney to continue to use it to generate wealth? Hell, let's assume that's exactly the case and it WILL do more good (and it very well might)-- do you believe you can convince enough politicians of that to make it matter? Disney has balance sheets and accounting books and X number of employees to show what IT'S doing with the IP. What do you have? Other than "but but but feudal system!?"

It's not as clear-cut an issue as Slashdotters make it out to be, and I'm frankly getting awfully tired of the constant, unending suggestions that every time somebody disagrees with somebody on Slashdot it must be because they're in some corporation's pocket. The concept of IP, at least in the form of copyright, has existed literally as long as the US has existed under its Constitution. Private interests, interjecting their power into the secret drafting process? I don't think so. Maybe smart people just find value in it that you don't.

There's a LOT wrong with many of the things going on right now, not the least of which are the crazy awards these lawsuits have been garnering, but let's not pretend there can only be one possible sane view of the issue. Sometimes smart people disagree. And it doesn't even take a bribe.

Re:its not 'greed'. (1)

buss_error (142273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958492)

do you believe you can convince enough politicians of that to make it matter?
.

It is unimportant what politicians believe if RIAA and MPAA are deprived of any income.
Accept nothing from RIAA/MPAA, give nothing to RIAA/MPAA. RIAA/MPAA will go away as they
so richly deserve. At work, I'll veto the purchase of a system that has too much Sony IP in it
if I can obtain alternatives for less than a 10% difference. Mostly, the alternatives cost
less with interoperability that is better than the Sony selection.

For the last few years, I have not purchased any IP (Imaginary Property) except post first sale.
RIAA/MPAA get no income from secondary sales - but mostly, I simply do without because the vast
majority of their output is pure drivel. I have more time to code, more time to pet the cats,
raise my crops (spices for cooking), cook, wine and dine my ladies, read, and sleep in.

I haven't had cable/dish/over the air programming for the past year. I do miss Mike Rowe and
the Mythbusters team, but you know, I can live with that to suck at least $150 a month out of
the RIAA/MPAA/Stupid Networks/cable/dish networks. I miss 'em, but not $150 bucks a month worth.

boy .... (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958780)

Disney has balance sheets and accounting books and X number of employees to show what IT'S doing with the IP. What do you have? Other than "but but but feudal system!?"

feudal lords had balance sheets, accounting books, X number of employees, chancellors, stewards, inspectors, taskmasters, sergeant at arms and innumerable other types of offices under them, working for them. even the smaller nobles, 'landholders', or with the term in early middle ages, 'freeholders'.

yea, i say 'but but but but feudal'. because it IS feudal. however, you are quite ignorant on that matter, seeing as how you can show having accounting books and balance sheets as being something differentiating the modern feudal estates from middle age ones.

actually it is worse today. back in feudal times, the lord, estate owner, had an obligation to feed the peasants, who were tied as serfs to his/her estate. it was a double sided oath, a social responsibility. today, the estate owner is even free from that obligation, while retaining all the privileges of being an aristocrat.

and there are people like you too, justifying the system of inequality through various excuses so that you can accept the reality you are living in, and cope up with it.

Re:its not 'greed'. (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958792)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

No seriously this is very well put, and I would like to hear more.

$1.92 Too Much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958348)

$1.92? It's $1.92 more than the bastards deserve.

Filter error: You can type more than that for your (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958580)

lol.

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