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RIAA Must Divulge Expenses-Per-Download 305

Posted by kdawson
from the treble-damages-are-for-wimps dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Court has ordered UMG Recordings, Warner Bros. Records, Interscope Records, Motown, and SONY BMG to disclose their expenses-per-download to the defendant's lawyers, in UMG v. Lindor, a case pending in Brooklyn. The Court held that the expense figures are relevant to the issue of whether the RIAA's attempt to recover damages of $750 or more per 99-cent song file, is an unconstitutional violation of due process."
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RIAA Must Divulge Expenses-Per-Download

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  • by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @01:41AM (#21488807) Homepage Journal
    IANAL, but I think the problem is that they would have to show that they were doing that before this request to itemize the costs was made. Otherwise they could make up anything they wanted.

    "Yes your honor, we encode the bits into a 1 oz. gold coins and mail them to our other office where they are melted down and made into a plaque for this specific case"
  • Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @01:57AM (#21488911)
    According to the copyright office [copyright.gov], damages go from 750$ to 30,000$. Unknown infringement is no less than 200$. Known, willful infringement is no greater than 150,000$. These all are statutory damages.

    I guess the next question is to actually ask if these statutory damages are constitutional or not, which is being asked now. Really, what else is there?
  • by slashqwerty (1099091) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:04AM (#21488955)
    At one point lawmakers are gonna put their foot down and make sure this comes to an end, and that it can never happen again, right?...........right?

    Have you ever paid attention to all of those 10,000 page "free trade" treaties we keep signing? Almost every treaty has a provision regarding copyright. Generally each treaty requires stronger and stronger copyright provisions. If congress actually did come to their senses and balance copyright law, we would be in violation of tons of treaties and subject to massive economic sanctions.

    Balanced copyrights will require a worldwide effort and support from the heads of state of dozens of countries...just to get started.

  • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:53AM (#21489213) Homepage Journal

    Is it just me or is there a ridiculous number of exhibits and motions in this Lindor case? I count 239 links on Ray's blog just for this one case. I noticed this link from December 14, 2006--a year ago--in which the plaintiffs appear to be stalling on this very issue. The letter makes reference to a hearing from August of 2006. Has this one issue really been going on that long?
    1. No it's not just you; it is ridiculous. Ms. Lindor has never even used a computer.

    2. It took us 6 months to get the revenue information. Now it's been 4 1/2 months so far to try and get the expense information.
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:20AM (#21489353) Homepage Journal
    It was unmaintained for a while, but has some fresh new developers. Many of the download links in its server are broken, mainly due to the Internet Underground Music Archive going out of business. But they are even as we speak removing the broken links, and adding new ones.

    So if you find that iRATE doesn't work well for you today, give it a week or two and it should work much better.

  • by kaltkalt (620110) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @04:13AM (#21489623)
    The Supreme Court held in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co v. Campbell et al. 538 U.S. 408 (2003) [justia.com] that a punitive damage award that is more than 10 times higher than the actual damages is presumably a violation of due process. Thus, it logically follows that statutory damages ($750) that are more than 1,100 times higher than actual damages are an even greater violation of due process for two reasons: First, the ratio is significantly higher, and second, the goal of statutory damages is compensatory rather than punative, so there is less of a reason to make the damages a high number; it should bear a relation to the actual damages. The sole purpose of statutory damages in copyright law is due to the fact that actual damages are often hard if not impossible to prove. But if actual harm can be quantified in any reasonable manner, then a statutory damage award must still bear a reasonable ratio to that amount or else it would violate due process. More than 10 to 1 is improper for punative damages, I'd say more than 2-3 to 1 is improper for statutory damages (since the purpose is not to punish, but merely to compensate the copyright holder). The copyright holder can seek punative damages at trial and if they can prove their case and entitlement thereto, they can get punative damages up to 10 times higher than actual damages. But for congress to mandate a statutory damage amount over 1,100 times higher than the actual harm/loss (per infringement!) simply must be an unconstitutional violation of due process to be consistent with existing Supreme Court precedent. This is particularly true if one argues that a portion of statutory damages include punative damages.
  • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @04:58AM (#21489827) Homepage Journal
    Not to be a grammar nazi, but you need to watch your antecedents. I actually understood that the kids were selling the file, not the telecom, until long after I finished reading your comment. Just to make it clear: The telecom was trying to charge the kids $80K for a file the telecomwas itself selling for $30. Is that right?
  • no go (Score:2, Informative)

    by hailodiver01 (1194821) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:10AM (#21490343)
    Punitive Damages: "are those with the intent to punish the defendant. The hope is that awarding punitive damages will deter similar actions in the future both by the defendant and others similarly situated."
                  encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/ne/Negligence
    but also are "Damages awarded in addition to actual damages when the defendant acted with recklessness, malice, or deceit."
                  https://www.legalexplorer.com/AM/Template.cfm [legalexplorer.com]

    Punitive can be and are usually significantly higher than an infringement's monetary value because they are meant to PUNISH and DETER future infringement.

    Even if the actual cost is revealed, the damages will not decrease. If anything, it is an opportunity for them to INCREASE the amount of statutory damages that they can collect.

    They are not stupid, they are in more control of what happens than it may seem because they have control of the cases. If they come across someone who they think could possibly beat them or damage their cause, all that they have to do is simply drop the case from court. Conversely, because they are the ones filing the suits, they can hand pick the courts that they want to take their cases to. Thus allowing them to not only collect minuscule and essentially irrelevant monetary damages from the victims of their suits but simultaneously re-write copyright case law to their hearts content!
  • by zotz (3951) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @09:36AM (#21491175) Homepage Journal
    "Is there precedent for different types of encouraging licenses similar to the software world? (Share only, derivatives allowed, etc.)"

    Creative Commons has the Attribution-ShareAlike license. Which is sort of like the GPL for non-code.

    There is also the Free Art License:

    http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en/ [artlibre.org]

    I put my stuff under CC BY-SA as well:

    http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=%22drew%20Roberts%22 [archive.org]

    And people use it:

    http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Peter%20Rodgers%22 [archive.org]

    http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22drew%20Roberts%2C%20Thorsten%20Wilms%22 [archive.org]

    Plus, a group of people on the Linux Audio Users mailing list is starting up to make music together under a CC BY-SA license.

    Does that help you at all?

    all the best,

    drew
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc.yahoo@com> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @10:19AM (#21491651) Homepage
    Actually, the ruling requires the RIAA to open up about the COST of the downloaded songs, not the PRICE.


    This is an interesting ruling to me because I guess the claim is that the RIAA companies are providing the music to some of the services at around seventy cents per download "wholesale", but we all know that their actual cost is much lower. Their cost was incurred by the production of the music and it's marketing, but the cost of downloading the music is born by the folks at each end of the wire, i.e. the person who shared the file and the person who downloaded it. The existence of the music on a shared drive doesn't even prove that a cost of downloading was incurred. So the rulings on this part of the trial are interesting in terms of not just this lawsuit but others which may follow.

  • by jam244 (701505) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @10:24AM (#21491697) Homepage

    $50 dollars in legal fees
    $50? Have you ever hired a lawyer?
  • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @01:15PM (#21493941) Homepage Journal
    Well they've tried to rectify that [blogspot.com].

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

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