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RIAA Agrees To Take $200-Per-File In Texas Case 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-generous dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a San Antonio, Texas case, Maverick v. Harper, in which a young woman was accused of having committed copyright infringement at the age of 16, the Judge denied the RIAA's summary judgment motion this summer, saying there were factual issues as to whether the defendant qualified for the 'innocent infringement' defense. He offered the record companies a way out, however, saying he would grant them a judgment if they agreed to take only $200 — as opposed to the $9,250 they sought from Jammie Thomas or the $750 they usually seek — per infringed recording. We have recently learned that, after the Judge denied the RIAA's reconsideration motion and scheduled a trial date, the RIAA filed papers agreeing to take the $200-per-recording amount. While $200 is still about 600 times the amount of the actual damages, it's better than paying 26,000 times the actual damages, which is what the RIAA tried to squeeze out of Ms. Thomas." This is a reversal of the RIAA's rejection of the $200 award per song last month.
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RIAA Agrees To Take $200-Per-File In Texas Case

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  • Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    600 times the actual damages for what she had possession of, but they don't go after people for simply having music, they go after them for making it available to others and distributing it. The actual damages could have been much more than 33 cents per song.
    • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lysergic.acid (845423) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:28PM (#25420979) Homepage

      those are hypothetical damages. technically the recording industry didn't incur any real damages from this type of copyright infringement. making copies of electronic data doesn't cost anything.

      and if you want to talk about hypothetical damages, then what about the potential losses to indie artists or labels due to the major labels' monopolistic control over music distribution/promotion? Payola is still alive and well today. the music promotion racket run by the Big Four and the Clear Channel radio network requires artists & labels to buy spin slots on top 40 playlists. this essentially prevents independent musicians from gaining any kind of public exposure. these are blatantly anti-competitive practices used to lock non-RIAA-sanctioned artists out of the industry.

      and what about the ASCAP & BMI who each collect hundreds of millions in music royalties each year? any public venue that plays music--whether live, recorded, or broadcast--has to pay these RIAA-run organizations "licensing fees" regardless of who owns the rights to the music. the ASCAP even charges venues for playing foreign music that is in public domain. so they will collect licensing fees on your music whether you want them to or not. but if an artist wants to actually receive his royalty checks, he needs to pay for ASCAP/BMI membership. for most musicians, these royalties are not worth the cost of membership. it would be better to just allow public venues to play their music for free, thus promoting the band and giving them free exposure. but these extortion rings eliminate any financial incentive to play non-RIAA-licensed music since a venue is billed even for playing music by non-RIAA-affiliated artists.

      file sharing is a major threat to the RIAA not because it hurts the music industry--it doesn't, it has actually boosted net profits--but because it undermines the Big Four's traditionally held control over music distribution & promotion. radio used to be the only place where consumers could sample music for free. but now consumers can explore music that actually suits their taste by circumventing traditional channels. you can sample music before you pay for it, and this gives consumers the power to only pay for music they actually like. that means no more buying $20 pop albums full of filler tracks just for one or two radio singles. file sharing actually exposes consumers to much more music than before, which has expanded people's musical tastes and increased music-related expenditures. but that spending is now distributed across a large variety of indie artists rather than concentrated in a small handful of mainstream acts. mainstream pop musicians that have traditionally been the major labels' cash cows are no longer selling because people realize that such throwaway fad music is not worth spending money on.

      • by mpe (36238)
        mainstream pop musicians that have traditionally been the major labels' cash cows are no longer selling because people realize that such throwaway fad music is not worth spending money on.

        There's also the little matter of the state of the economy. Which is currently rather FUBAR. In a recession people are likely to have less money to spend on things such as entertainment.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by d_jedi (773213)

      Wow. A perfectly reasonable and absolutely correct comment gets modded as flamebait because it goes (however slightly) against the Slashdot groupthink that the RIAA is teh devil.

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Thats still

      $10,192,200.00 that I would owe to the RIAA.

      Instead of the normal

      $441,662,000.00

      Good luck RIAA,
      do you accept cheques?

  • She'll be fine. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:17PM (#25420443) Homepage

    After all, the RIAA simply suggests you drop out of school [mit.edu] to pay your fine.

    So in this case, I'm sure they'll suggest she not go to post-secondary school and spends her school savings to pay them.

    This is why I haven't bought an RIAA registered CD since 2001, and won't. Douchebags.

    http://www.riaaradar.com/ [riaaradar.com] ftw.

    • Re:She'll be fine. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:43PM (#25420659)
      Well, at least all that money is all going to the starving artists who she ruthlessly stole from. Right?
    • Re:She'll be fine. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4&gmail,com> on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:49PM (#25420713)

      After all, the RIAA simply suggests you drop out of school [mit.edu] to pay your fine.

      It's a really talented and well-written article. It's things like this which need to be published on a mass scale (unfortunately, a college newspaper won't get you anywhere) before we see any change. When extortion of this level of cruelty happens legally, generating awareness is the only way to stop it.

      As it is right now, politicians don't even know what the internet or a computer is, how are we supposed to make them defend our rights?

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's a really talented and well-written article.

        It's got a voice like an angel and legs like Ginger Rogers.

    • After all, the RIAA simply suggests you drop out of school [mit.edu] to pay your fine.

      Well at the same time, it's hearsay from an unapologeticly biased source. Wouldn't surprise me that an overzealous RIAA agent said that, but that's a far cry from proof of RIAA policy. Yes, they're douchebags, but this accusation only warrants an allegation. Try divorce court custody hearings. Lots of weakly-supported allegations everywhere, proving that both parties are douchebags, but not necessarily as attrocious as the allegations describe.

      In case you missed it, I loosely implied that the author was

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:17PM (#25420445)

    That's like going to extort a store owner:

    Mafiaa: Hey buddy, You wanna keep your store safe, it'll be 30%, off the top.
    Store: We can't afford that. We'll just close shop.
    Mafiaa: Ok, we'll just take 3%.

  • by nfc_Death (915751) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:21PM (#25420473)
    I cannot understand the usage of a public system such as the justice system being perverted to act as a revenue stream for clearly underhanded groups of people. Its scary how twisted and shackled all our legal systems have become.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You just described 90% of all civil legal actions.

    • Just wait until the DoJ lawyers become lackeys of the RIAA/MPAA
    • by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Friday October 17, 2008 @10:40PM (#25421395) Journal

      I cannot understand the usage of a public system such as the ________ system being perverted to act as a revenue stream for clearly underhanded groups of people.

      I'll help you understand (insert political/educational/judicial/legislative/economic/etc in the blank):
      1) People are not perfect. Therefore people do not make the perfect ________ system.
      2) There are some people who do not want to accept the rules of the ________ system.
      3) Some of these people try to circumvent the rules of the ________ system, fail, and are punished/suffer.
      4) Others (the clever ones) are able to successfully use the imperfections of the ________ system to circumvent, or change, the rules of the system. These people, in thoroughly developed society, will have an incredible amount of control over the original system. To not think this inevitable is akin to honestly believing "The cheater never prospers".

      As a side-note, the abuses and manipulations of the American judicial system, at most times, seem pretty tame compared to those of the financial/economic, or political/legislative.

  • Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:22PM (#25420485)

    I'm a Texan, and this is great news. I only owe them 2 million dollars!

  • What happens? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saladpuncher (633633) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:22PM (#25420487) Homepage
    So what happens if they win? I am not a lawyer but if someone sues you for a trizzillion dollars and you don't have it...what happens? They can't throw you in jail. They can't take your stuff...or can they? They can screw your credit rating up and maybe garnish your wages in the few states that allow it. I have won civil suits before and never got a dime. The judge slaps his gavel down, says "you owe the that dude 500 dollars" and then nothing happens. So what happens if you don't or can't pay the RIAA?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:37PM (#25420627)

      You're forced to work as a discwasher.

    • Re:What happens? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:42PM (#25420655)

      They can take your stuff. A civil judgment also stays good for 20 years (in most states), so they can garnish your wages once you DO get some jing.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They can have all my stuff. We'll start with the bullets.

      • by Pichu0102 (916292)

        So, in other words, you are technically forced to work just so the RIAA can take everything you make, leaving you homeless and not a penny to your name for 20 years? How exactly do they plan for you to survive for 20 years with no food, water or shelter due to not having any money whatsoever?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by supernova_hq (1014429)
          Umm, garnishing your wages does not mean the take everything...they simply take a percentage. Just think of it as a second income-tax :p
          • Re:What happens? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by davolfman (1245316) on Friday October 17, 2008 @11:27PM (#25421651)
            One which often leaves you with less than living expenses these days. It's not as if anyone actually gives 40 hours a week with the economy like this, they're too busy trying to keep existing employees on the payroll.
          • by Wowsers (1151731)

            Umm, garnishing your wages does not mean the take everything...

            This is the RIAA we're talking about, so think of it as a never-ending divorce settlement from the bitch that took you to the cleaners.

      • In Texas your wages can only be garnished for taxes, student loans, and child support.

      • They can take your stuff. A civil judgment also stays good for 20 years (in most states), so they can garnish your wages once you DO get some jing.

        I thought you'd just declare chapter 7 bankruptcy, ruin your credit rating, lose assets (other than your house and sometimes your car, and some others), and if they are insufficient to pay the creditors, the government simply wipes the debt out...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The courts can seize wages, property, etc., in most states. Unfortunately, unless you have a good lawyer and lots of money, you're up a creek if without a paddle.

    • Re:What happens? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cydnub (250571) on Friday October 17, 2008 @10:11PM (#25421249)
      Or your could just do what Bernie Goetz [wikipedia.org] did when he couldn't (wouldn't) pay: file for bankruptcy. He had a $43M judgement against him in 1996 and in 2004, "hasn't paid a penny yet".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You didn't get the memo. You can't do that anymore.

    • by hldn (1085833)

      i dont own anything and i dont ever plan on working, so im not too worried about what they could take from me.

  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:31PM (#25420569)

    Wow! Now you're only cutting off one of my balls? You're so charitable!

    - RG>

    • Is that what Tom Green said before his surgery?
    • Wow! Now you're only cutting off one of my balls? You're so charitable!

      I think in this case you mean boobs.

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      Vince: "Well one day I was at home threatening the kids when I looks out through the hole in the wall and sees this tank pull up and out gets one of RIAA's boys, so he comes in nice and friendly and says RIAA wants to have a word with me, so he chains me to the back of the tank and takes me for a scrape round to RIAA's place and the RIAA's lawyer is there in the conversation pit with Doug and Charles Paisley, the baby crusher, and two film producers and a man they called 'Kierkegaard', who just sat there bi

  • 10000 songs times $200. Yeah, I'd only owe $2 million. Someone who fills their iPod pays only $400,000. Better than the old one, which would be $93 million.
  • Appeal Appeal Appeal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:01PM (#25420801)
    This should be appealed on at least two grounds:

    1: 600X actual damages is constitutionally excessive.

    2: Attempted Distribution != Distribution. Or in other terms: Making Available != Distribution.

    On a side note, while the judge seems like a nice guy here, he's a moron for buying the RIAA's line that while we can't prove she ever provided a file to anyone except our own hired, paid, and completely unlicensed investigators, she's guilty anyway.
    • by maharvey (785540)
      They have her confession as proof.
    • 1. 600X actual damages is constitutionally excessive.

      Just curious, who came up with 33 cents per file as the "actual" damages and why? Accepting, as the court did, that there was harm suffered from her sharing files, the question is how much. If she shared a file with just one other person who would have otherwise bought it on itunes, the damage would be $1. How do you come up with a fraction of $1.

      2: Attempted Distribution != Distribution. Or in other terms: Making Available != Distribution.

      If the i
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 18, 2008 @12:40AM (#25421999)

        1. 600X actual damages is constitutionally excessive.

        Just curious, who came up with 33 cents per file as the "actual" damages and why? Accepting, as the court did, that there was harm suffered from her sharing files, the question is how much. If she shared a file with just one other person who would have otherwise bought it on itunes, the damage would be $1. How do you come up with a fraction of $1.

          2: Attempted Distribution != Distribution. Or in other terms: Making Available != Distribution.

        If the investigators' claim that they downloaded files shared by her are questionable then this could be a legitimate complaint. However, we are not talking about the investigators' word here. It seems easy to prove that they did in fact download them, log files etc.

        The SCOTUS ruled that anything above 10x damages is automatically unconstitutional, and something like 6 or 8 times (can't remember) is enough to become questionable. (google it if your that curious)

        The problem arises in that US copyright law allows for a minimum 750 dollars per infringement on statutory damages, where as through discovery we've learned the 'wholesale' cost of a song (according to the RIAA) is in the neighbourhood of 35 cents.

        That gives us damages at around 2150 times actual losses (yes I'm rounding, sue me.) While following the law.

        This brings up an important point that most are sadly un-aware of. Legal and illegal, and constitutional and unconstitutional, are not necessarily the same things.

        The RIAA's pursuit of 750$ a song is legal, its just not constitutional.

        Further these cases are complicated by the following;

        You cannot violate your own copyright, it just can't happen. So then agent's empowered by the RIAA making downloads off file sharing networks are in fact authorized to do so, so the copies they obtain are legal. The copyright owner told them to go get them. Investigators downloading mp3's doesn't get you anywhere and 'making available' isn't a crime, the distribution is.

        So.... wheres the crime?

        • by Fastolfe (1470)

          You cannot violate your own copyright, it just can't happen. So then agent's empowered by the RIAA making downloads off file sharing networks are in fact authorized to do so, so the copies they obtain are legal. The copyright owner told them to go get them. Investigators downloading mp3's doesn't get you anywhere and 'making available' isn't a crime, the distribution is.

          I think you've answered your own question. When Bob downloads a copyrighted song from Alice, two acts of infringement occur: Alice redist

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Just curious, who came up with 33 cents per file as the "actual" damages and why?

        It's my estimate.
        Wholesale price 70 cents.
        -Expenses ~35 cents.
        Lost profit ~35 cents.

        There was evidence of copying. She admitted it. The damages for that would be at best ~35 cents.

        There was no evidence she disseminated a copy to anyone else, or that she did so pursuant to a "sale or other transfer of ownership" or "license, lease, or lending." It's rule number 1 that you can't award damages based on speculation.

      • just curious, who came up with 33 cents per file as the "actual" damages and why? If she shared a file with just one other person who would have otherwise bought it on itunes, the damage would be $1. How do you come up with a fraction of $1.

        Out of a 99 cent iTunes download the profit to the record company (their share) after expenses is approximately 33 cents. This has been established by documents provided by the record companies. As it is the record companies doing the suing, they can only reasonably r

  • Real question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:23PM (#25420931)

    "While $200 is still about 600 times the amount of the actual damages"

    And how do you know?

    10 songs a CD, 15 dollars a CD, would equate to 1.50 a song. 600 times that would be... Wait, your using new math?

    Seriously, how can someone come up with a dollar figure for copyright infringment.

    I used to run a courier group. At one point, we where ranked #1 in the US, and ranked .eu fairly high, according to CWS, USCR, etc. (this is dating me).

    I couldn't tell you how much damage our MP3 group did, per song. Neither can NYCL, neither can RIAA or any other entity, because you DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE LEECHED FROM HER, AND IN TURN, FROM THE ORIGINAL LEECHERS.

    I haven't had a problem with the dollar figures they put out, simply because, YOU CAN'T QUANTIFY the dollar amounts, because nobody knows.

    So, seriously, how can you be taken seriously, when you are spouting dollar figures as well that don't add up?

    Serious question, NYCL. I want to know where your dollar figures came from and your percentages.... If only in case someday the past comes to haunt me :) lol.

    --eighteen double zero

    • by remmelt (837671)

      Isn't that the entire point though? No-one knows what the actual damages are. Not even the RIAA!

      So, how can they stick a number on and get away with it in a court of law? Especially when it's not fixed, the summary speaks of the usual $750, but also mentions $9250 and $200. That's a bit wild, isn't it? It almost seems like they're making those numbers up.

      You are calling out NYCL for his dollar figures; I am calling out the RIAA for the same thing. Let them prove, without a doubt, that there even were damage

      • Isn't that the entire point though? No-one knows what the actual damages are. Not even the RIAA!

        We could reasonably say that the actual damage for every download is about 70 cents. That is about the amount that you pay at the iTunes Store, minus the 30 percent that Apple keeps. (If you found a clever way to download music from the iTunes Store without paying, then the damage would be 99 cent per song).

        Now we would need a reasonable estimate for the number of songs downloaded from one computer. As I understand it, with peer-to-peer file sharing networks, everyone is supposed to not only download, bu

        • by remmelt (837671)

          Someone else in this thread pointed out that the damages should not be compared to the cost of downloading a song, but to the cost of the right to upload one.
          Interesting point.

          • Re:Real question (Score:4, Informative)

            by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@@@beckermanlegal...com> on Saturday October 18, 2008 @08:42AM (#25423295) Homepage Journal

            Someone else in this thread pointed out that the damages should not be compared to the cost of downloading a song, but to the cost of the right to upload one. Interesting point.

            It's not really interesting, it's just supremely illogical. When someone buys and pays for a distribution right they then proceed to resell the item, and receive money for it, and they have the exclusive for a territory (in this case the entire internet I guess). That would be a violation of a distribution right if the whole transaction were unauthorized. And if the person who really did own the copyright was prevented from distributing the product or marketing the distribution right in the product, then his damages would be the value of the distribution right.

            As you know, that did not occur here. None of that occurred here. Here, there is not even evidence that she sent anyone a copy.

            In fact, in this case the defendant did not "distribute" the recording, within the meaning of the Copyright Act, at all. Under the statute for there to be distribution there has to be
            -a dissemination of copies (no proof that that occurred here)
            -to the public (no proof that that occurred here)
            -by a sale or other transfer of ownership, or by a license, a lease, or a lending (no proof that that occurred here). So to award damages based on the value of the purchase of a distribution right would make no sense since there was no such thing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mpe (36238)
          The total revenue from music sales in the USA is less than $10 billion. So if everyone stopped buying music right now and exclusively changed to downloading music from peer-to-peer networks, the total damage would be $10 billion. Actually a lot less, because that $10 billion revenue produces a lot of cost as well.

          It's also more complicated since it is not the case that "downloaders" would otherwise be customers. Whilst the industry likes to claim that if people couldn't download they would otherwise buy t
      • by mpe (36238)
        Isn't that the entire point though? No-one knows what the actual damages are. Not even the RIAA!

        Whereas you'd usually expect that the party claiming can come up with at least some kind of figure and some evidence to back it up.

        So, how can they stick a number on and get away with it in a court of law?

        Without a judge simply dismissing the case...

        Especially when it's not fixed,

        Whilst you can sue for a non fixed amount there generally has to be some reasoning, understandable to the judge, involved.

        Y
    • by dwpro (520418)

      I couldn't tell you how much damage our MP3 group did, per song. Neither can NYCL, neither can RIAA or any other entity, because you DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE LEECHED FROM HER, AND IN TURN, FROM THE ORIGINAL LEECHERS.

      Perhaps we don't know exactly, but it wouldn't be that hard to put an upper maximum based on upload throughput records from the ISP, and I imagine it wasn't in the hundreds of gigabytes. If you estimate ~3 megs a song, she would have to upload 421.87500 gigabytes worth of data to equal 144,000 (RIAA's famous number) downloads. If she is like me, that would take a while at 40kbps upload cap. I would think that she should not be culpable for derivative downloads in the digital age, but that is certainly a

    • Re:Real question (Score:4, Interesting)

      by photomonkey (987563) on Saturday October 18, 2008 @02:28PM (#25425295)

      Here's how you can put a dollar amount on things:

      I'm a professional commercial photographer. I do advertising work, editorial (newspaper/magazine) and documentary work.

      For an in-the-clear commercial infringement, I typically seek the cost of the shoot plus 5x the 'market rate' for the run of the photo; and any lawyers' fees I'm entitled to recoup.

      Why? To get fairly compensated for what was taken from me, and to make it painful enough to the infringer (usually a company, occasionally a mom-and-pop publisher/advertiser) to realize that next time, they're better off paying market value than 'borrowing' someone else's work to make a buck.

      But then, I'm not a parasite. I wouldn't sue you for downloading a picture and making it your desktop wallpaper. I would sue your ass off if you downloaded an image, and used it to sell your business, illustrate your book/publication or sell art prints of the same.

      Technically, I would be legally in bounds to sue for infringement if the work appeared on your Web site under a lot (granted, not all) of circumstances. Most of the time, I don't care. Unless you're directly or indirectly profiting from having the work there, toss me a credit, link and an email asking permission.

      Copyright is an act of moderation, and I firmly believe in letting the punishment fit the crime/infraction.

      • Here's how you can put a dollar amount on things: I'm a professional commercial photographer. I do advertising work, editorial (newspaper/magazine) and documentary work. For an in-the-clear commercial infringement, I typically seek the cost of the shoot plus 5x the 'market rate' for the run of the photo; and any lawyers' fees I'm entitled to recoup. Why? To get fairly compensated for what was taken from me, and to make it painful enough to the infringer (usually a company, occasionally a mom-and-pop publisher/advertiser) to realize that next time, they're better off paying market value than 'borrowing' someone else's work to make a buck. But then, I'm not a parasite. I wouldn't sue you for downloading a picture and making it your desktop wallpaper. I would sue your ass off if you downloaded an image, and used it to sell your business, illustrate your book/publication or sell art prints of the same. Technically, I would be legally in bounds to sue for infringement if the work appeared on your Web site under a lot (granted, not all) of circumstances. Most of the time, I don't care. Unless you're directly or indirectly profiting from having the work there, toss me a credit, link and an email asking permission. Copyright is an act of moderation, and I firmly believe in letting the punishment fit the crime/infraction.

        A rational voice.

        How refreshing these days.

  • it bears repeating (Score:5, Informative)

    by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Friday October 17, 2008 @11:04PM (#25421527) Homepage

    While $200 is still about 600 times the amount of the actual damages, it's better than paying 26,000 times the actual damages, which is what the RIAA tried to squeeze out of Ms. Thomas.
    I really get tired of saying this, but the damages have nothing to do with what it costs to purchase and download a song. The case is not about a person downloading copyrighted materials (if it was, then the cost of the downloaded song would be correct to look at for damages). The case is about uploading copyrighted material. The person is basically assuming the right to distribute the material. In this case, the proper thing to look at is what the media company would charge someone if they wanted the purchase the rights to distribute the song, which is obviously going to much higher than the cost of purchasing a single download of the song.

    If I call the RIAA and say that I want to purchase the right to put hit song X on my website for every visitor to my website to download for free and ask what it would cost to purchase this right, that is what the damages should be compared to. My guess is that this right would cost me much more than the cost of purchasing a single copy of the song, since I am basically buying the right to distribute as many copies as a I want. That is the right that is being infringed upon, and what the damages should be compared to.

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      If I call the RIAA and say that I want to purchase the right to put hit song X on my website for every visitor to my website to download for free and ask what it would cost to purchase this right, that is what the damages should be compared to.

      That's an interesting question. A related question is how much do they charge for licensing if you wish to allow downloading for a fee?

      I don't know, but I'm curious.

    • by bit01 (644603)

      If I call the RIAA and say that I want to purchase the right to put hit song X on my website for every visitor to my website to download for free and ask what it would cost to purchase this right

      In a true free market that price might have some meaning. In the current oligopoly that price is meaningless and insulting. Those dinosaurs need to die.

      ---

      It's not piracy, it's sharing. Didn't your parents teach you to share?

    • Hear hear. I've had clients of mine pay upwards of $1500 for the right to include a cover (their own recording) of a copyrighted song on their album. What that latest cover I heard on the radio, someone doing Micheal Jackson's Beat It. Think they got the rights for that for $200?

      Pirates need to learn the affect they have on songwriters. In the end, it's not worth it, unless you want to listen to rehashings of the same unoriginal crap for the rest of your lives. Don't believe me? Turn on the radio!

    • by Fastolfe (1470)

      In this case, the proper thing to look at is what the media company would charge someone if they wanted the purchase the rights to distribute the song, which is obviously going to much higher than the cost of purchasing a single download of the song.

      So if I had my own record label and did my own distribution, I could offer to sell redistribution rights for $1M per song and sue everyone sharing my song for that amount?

      The purpose of a civil suit is compensation, not forced licensing. That compensation shou

    • by Stray7Xi (698337)

      And what you say is still wrong.

      The cost to purchase does determine damages. 30 distributions of a $1 song is $30 damages. It's insane to say the RIAA can make up whatever number they want because that's what they'd want to charge for these circumstances, they have no reason to be honest or fair. The only way to do it fairly is go off the fair market value that the market has decided.

      By your notion, should Prince sue that baby one billion dollar because his baby-dancing video license is 1 billion dollars

  • While $200 is still about 600 times the amount of the actual damages

    Punitive damages are meant to punish the offender, not just compensate the victim for their loss (which, because of the legal fees and the costs of investigation are still way higher). The young woman infringed knowingly — not by accident.

    She was not even stealing bread, medicine, or other vital sustenance — it was just entertainment. I have no sympathy for her, and neither should you... And yet, puzzlingly, there will, no dou

    • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Saturday October 18, 2008 @12:47AM (#25422037)

      I don't condone her actions, nor would I excuse them. In fact, I get somewhat irritated by those that try to justify stealing music. I'd actually agree that she needs to be punished to some reasonable degree.

      I don't agree, however, that downloading music illegally is a crime that merits the financial destruction of someone's future. That's the issue I have here.

      Let me ask you - would you consider illegally downloading music or stealing a car [nwsource.com] a more serious crime? Doesn't it seem a bit crazy to you that the penalty for downloading music is harsher than grand theft auto?

      • by mi (197448)

        Let me ask you - would you consider illegally downloading music or stealing a car a more serious crime? Doesn't it seem a bit crazy to you that the penalty for downloading music is harsher than grand theft auto?

        Actually, stealing a car is a felony — except, evidently, in Seattle, where it is a "gross misdemeanor". One's life is much more likely to be ruined by such a conviction, than by "financial destruction of a future" — which is a waaaay too pessimistic a term for $10-20K.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Actually, stealing a car is a felony -- except, evidently, in Seattle, where it is a "gross misdemeanor". One's life is much more likely to be ruined by such a conviction, than by "financial destruction of a future" -- which is a waaaay too pessimistic a term for $10-20K.

          This is what I mean [pitchforkmedia.com] when I talk about "financial destruction".

      • by mpe (36238)
        Let me ask you - would you consider illegally downloading music or stealing a car a more serious crime? Doesn't it seem a bit crazy to you that the penalty for downloading music is harsher than grand theft auto?

        Especially considering that someone's car being stolen tends to lead to actual hardship to people. Such as higher insurance premiums and having to manage without the machine they usually use. Whereas downloading music may simply deprive a highly profitable business of a trivial amount of money.
        IMHO
    • The young woman infringed knowingly ... the stolen entertainment

      Very slick. You begin by talking about things being infringed, in order to get people off their guard, then shift seamlessly into talking about things being stolen, as if they're quite the same thing. Of course you know the difference full well.

    • Test your logic:

      A. Stealing == mv(1). (as in: mv /riaa/somefile.mp3 /home/mycollection)

      B. Infringing copyright == cp(1). (as in: cp /riaa/somefile.mp3 /home/mycollection)

      C. mv(1) != cp(1). (because with mv, /riaa/somefile.mp3 is gone, while with cp, it's still there)

      Ergo: Stealing != Infringing copyright.

  • $200 a song can easily be arbitrated down to half or 1/4 of that amount that they would actually pay. Yes, it's excessive, but this alone sets a ceiling for such claims in the future. And every time that they accept less, they set that bar lower. I suspect that it'll end up being closer to $50 a song by the time this all blows over a few years from now. Yes, that is punitive, and hugely so, but it's never going to go down to the actual cost.

    And, technically they DO have you dead to rights if you are fil

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Saturday October 18, 2008 @12:39AM (#25421987)

    If the standard for judgment is actual damages plus treble damages, i.e $0.99 per song and $0.99 * 3 for damages, that's more like it.

    While I don't mean to incite violence, but I'm really starting to think that "we the people" need to find a way to rid ourselves of these parasites who write the laws, pay the legislatures to pass the laws, pay the executive branch to sign the law, "influence" the judiciary to uphold the laws, and destroy the lives of defenseless citizens.

    Sorry, but they suck, and they all need to be on a plane that crashes in the ocean.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by qzulla (600807)

      Your price is based on the cost of the song for one copy. If it is shared and downloaded by two we now have $6. If it is downloaded by three it is... you see where this is going. That is what they base the cost on though I do think their numbers are skewed and they should have to provide some proof as to how many times it was downloaded. It would really slow them down.

      I know, I know, they have no proof how many times it was downloaded but you have no proof it was only once.

      I don't like the RIAA any more tha

      • They damn well should have proof for how many times it was downloaded. "making available" is NOT making a copy.
      • by Stray7Xi (698337)

        I know, I know, they have no proof how many times it was downloaded but you have no proof it was only once.

        No but it's easily possible to prove that the sharers on average are responsible for 2 copies, their own and one upload. Since there can't be more uploads then downloads, on average people will have a 1:1 ratio.

        Also that'd be based on idea of suing both the downloader and uploader of a single transfer, otherwise it'd only be 1 copy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kramerd (1227006)

      I believe we have one, called voting.

      Just vote your current house/senate member out of office. Cite this as the reason why. If you can remove one, half of the remainder will change their stance.

      See tobacco industry for examples (too lazy to look up right now).

  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Saturday October 18, 2008 @12:31PM (#25424607) Homepage Journal
    600 x $0 = $200? Gee, math is hard...
  • It's not better, as it's still extortion, just with lower numbers. Agreeing to discuss numbers is agreeing to assume fault, and then the numbers can easily be manipulated.

    Copyright law is broken. The music industry is broken. Changing its business model from exploiting musicians to exploiting musicians and extortion is not an improvement.

    It's like the story about the old ugly man and the hot girl at the bar:
    Man: Hi there. Would you suck me off for $20?
    Girl: What???
    Man: $200?
    Girl: How do you dare to talk to

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