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Obama DOJ Sides With RIAA 785

Posted by timothy
from the similar-to-the-old-boss dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Obama Administration's Department of Justice, with former RIAA lawyers occupying the 2nd and 3rd highest positions in the department, has shown its colors, intervening on behalf of the RIAA in the case against a Boston University graduate student, SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, accused of file sharing when he was 17 years old. Its oversized, 39-page brief (PDF) relies upon a United States Supreme Court decision from 1919 which upheld a statutory damages award, in a case involving overpriced railway tickets, equal to 116 times the actual damages sustained, and a 2007 Circuit Court decision which held that the 1919 decision — rather than the Supreme Court's more recent decisions involving punitive damages — was applicable to an award against a Karaoke CD distributor for 44 times the actual damages. Of course none of the cited cases dealt with the ratios sought by the RIAA: 2,100 to 425,000 times the actual damages for an MP3 file. Interestingly, the Government brief asked the Judge not to rule on the issue at this time, but to wait until after a trial. Also interestingly, although the brief sought to rebut, one by one, each argument that had been made by the defendant in his brief, it totally ignored all of the authorities and arguments that had been made by the Free Software Foundation in its brief. Commentators had been fearing that the Obama/Biden administration would be tools of the RIAA; does this filing confirm those fears?"
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Obama DOJ Sides With RIAA

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:26PM (#27289341)

    Yup.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:31PM (#27289409)
      The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt.
      • by hessian (467078) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:36PM (#27292659) Homepage Journal

        Now in a democracy, too, there are drones, but they are more numerous and more dangerous than in the oligarchy; there they are inert and unpractised, here they are full of life and animation; and the keener sort speak and act, while the others buzz about the bema and prevent their opponents from being heard.

        And there is another class in democratic States, of respectable, thriving individuals, who can be squeezed when the drones have need of their possessions; there is moreover a third class, who are the labourers and the artisans, and they make up the mass of the people. When the people meet, they are omnipotent, but they cannot be brought together unless they are attracted by a little honey; and the rich are made to supply the honey, of which the demagogues keep the greater part themselves, giving a taste only to the mob.

        Their victims attempt to resist; they are driven mad by the stings of the drones, and so become downright oligarchs in self-defence. Then follow informations and convictions for treason. The people have some protector whom they nurse into greatness, and from this root the tree of tyranny springs. The nature of the change is indicated in the old fable of the temple of Zeus Lycaeus, which tells how he who tastes human flesh mixed up with the flesh of other victims will turn into a wolf.

        Even so the protector, who tastes human blood, and slays some and exiles others with or without law, who hints at abolition of debts and division of lands, must either perish or become a wolf--that is, a tyrant. Perhaps he is driven out, but he soon comes back from exile; and then if his enemies cannot get rid of him by lawful means, they plot his assassination.

        Thereupon the friend of the people makes his well-known request to them for a body-guard, which they readily grant, thinking only of his danger and not of their
        own. Now let the rich man make to himself wings, for he will never run away again if he does not do so then. And the Great Protector, having crushed all his rivals, stands proudly erect in the chariot of State, a full-blown tyrant.

        Plato, The Republic [extremepolitics.org]

        Full explanation: How we'll move into tyranny [amerika.org]

        Great empires like the USA are not conquered. They decay from within. We are corrupt because we have lost social consensus. To understand that, you will have to first realize that not all of the humanities are BS and that politics/philosophy is a discipline as structured as programming. Until you overcome that bias, it will all be Greek (heh heh) to you.

    • by Cornwallis (1188489) * on Sunday March 22, 2009 @04:24PM (#27290687)
      You mean "chains we can believe in."
    • by BCW2 (168187) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:22PM (#27291321) Journal
      Is there anyone in Washington that is not bought and paid for? I doubt it seriously! Both parties are paid for by the same people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:27PM (#27289351)

    It has been well known the republicrats and democans are the tools of the MAFIAA(Music And Film Industry Association of America) and Omaba is no different. The libertarians have long known Obama is for as much change as Bush and Clinton, none. Both major parties are for corporate wealth and will use legislation to back said corporate wealth.

    -bob

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:51PM (#27289609)

      If you didn't vote libertarian, you ASKED FOR THIS

      False dichotomies are lies.

  • Third Party (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:27PM (#27289353)
    Perhaps this might be the thing to spark a true third-party movement in the USA? Have we not seen time and time again how neither Republicans nor Democrats are any different in the grand scheme of things? I can't remember how often I had been told that Obama was going to change things for the better, how somehow Obama was going to not be in the corporation's or the party's pocketbook because he got most of his campaign funds from independent donates... and what does he do when he gets elected? He carries on policies that have always failed, meanwhile undermining capitalism and sending our country deeper into recession by both his words and by the laws he wants to pass. A third party could change this, if our congress could include more than Republicans, Democrats and the odd Independent, our country would be a much, much, much, better place.
    • Re:Third Party (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clang_jangle (975789) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:34PM (#27289435) Journal

      Perhaps this might be the thing to spark a true third-party movement in the USA?

      I wish it could be so. Unfortunately government is run by big corporate interests now, and no 3rd party will get in unless they join the current power structure. It's democracy theatre we have now, not democracy at all.

    • How do you know a third party would be any different? The powers that be will smack down anybody who isn't indoctrinated into the way things are done.

      The solution lies in those overseeing the public good being beyond the influence of big business. Get rid of the revolving door.

      Sadly, it's exactly this type of behaviour that Obama said he was going to stop.
      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:42PM (#27289521)
        Because most third parties either more liberal or conservative seem to stick with proven policies rather then trying to "compromise" and screwing the public by the result. For example, its great for the economy to remove restrictions on companies, but similarly, you then don't throw a bunch of tax dollars at them and tell them to spend them however they want. If you are going to remove restrictions, you then remove government influence so they don't get "bailed out" at taxpayer expense. If you are going to "bail out" private companies, you are going to restrict what the companies can do. The more conservative parties would not bail out companies but they would reduce regulation. The more liberal parties would bail out companies, but they would have many more restrictions. In either the economy would at least have a chance to prosper.

        Copyright would be the same thing. Either companies are allowed to include DRM and it is legal to break the DRM and copyright is loosened. Or companies are not allowed to include DRM but copyright law would be strengthened from its original (not today, but when it was first made) idea. In the current situation, DRM is allowed and it is illegal to break and strong, lengthy copyrights. The public loses today.
    • Re:Third Party (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Samschnooks (1415697) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:37PM (#27289481)
      He has put out the word that he wants a dialogue with Iran.

      He made changes with Guantanamo.

      He's made changes in the tax system - albeit not enough for my tastes.

      He's dealing with one of the worst economies in decades.

      It looks like we're finally getting out of Iraq and maybe things in Afghanistan will improve too.

      Maybe he is a tool of the RIAA. I don't know, but considering the other shit happening in this World, the RIAA and their actions are not exactly high on people's list.

      I'm all for third parties myself - I voted for Barr - but I think Obama is getting much of his changes through. It's just not the "working in the system peaceful revolution" that I think many folks expected.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        These are all good points, but as it stands, the the US has a major problem - patents and copyrights. These are causing the country to slowly tear itself apart due to stifling innovation and creativity, and the resulting feeding frenzy of lawsuits. Maybe dealing with the RIAA is low on people's lists, but it's one of the pieces that needs to be dealt with before the situation can be repaired. Going along with them is not only permitting this problem to continue to exist, but it gives them a form of tacit ap
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        He has put out the word that he wants a dialogue with Iran.

        And hasn't started one.

        He made changes with Guantanamo.

        And shipped the prisoners there to another prison in Afghanistan while refusing to change the Bush policy on denying the right to trial for prisoners.

        He's made changes in the tax system - albeit not enough for my tastes.

        We'll see how that plays out.

        He's dealing with one of the worst economies in decades.

        The same way that Bush did, so far.

        It looks like we're finally getting out of Iraq and maybe things in Afghanistan will improve too.

        This has yet to be seen.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        He has put out the word that he wants a dialogue with Iran.

        It is not difficult to play a "reasonable" person with 8 years of utter insanity in the background. I note that "talking" does not equate with "handling well" though.

        He made changes with Guantanamo.

        Cosmetic ones. As far as the whole mess is concerned, changing names and moving the "unspeakables" around changes little of consequence.

        He's made changes in the tax system - albeit not enough for my tastes.

        Yes, he did rearrange the chairs on the Titani

    • No going to happen (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TiggertheMad (556308)
      Perhaps this might be the thing to spark a true third-party movement in the USA?

      Yes, the immense dissatisfaction that the american public has with the Obama presidency will spark off a independent party revolution, and both major parties will be shut out in the next round of elections. Either that, or a bunch of nerds on the Internet will just get pissed off over a relatively minor ruling on IP law.

      Even if the voting laws magically changed overnight, Obama is going to have to screw up pretty badly to
  • by drdanny_orig (585847) * on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:28PM (#27289365)
    In a word, yes. As does the bail-out shenanigans, etc.
    • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:34PM (#27289449)

      Yes. Not only that but it is a harbinger that will eventually show where the Obama campaign probably got their campaign money from.

      Big media company associations, and big banks.

      Who'll be big-time beneficiaries of their judicial efforts, stimulus packages, and ultimately new laws think new super-DMCA but 1000 fold worse.

      i.e. Mandatory DRM. Repeal of the safe-harbor protections of the DMCA. More liability for services like youtube, and ISPs who fail to filter copyrighted content.

      Criminal liability for authors of P2P software like bittorrent.

      The years ahead will probably not be very fun for technologists or the public.

    • Interestingly... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:38PM (#27289485)
      I was listening to an interview with Peter Gabriel on 5live http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/ [bbc.co.uk] Simon Mayo (worth the fee on his own - grab the podcast) was doing the interview.

      Peter said, essentially, that the music companies had lost the plot.

      Nuff said
  • Change? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anonieuweling (536832) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:29PM (#27289381)
    A change for the worse? I mean, when the government tries to 'help' a judge to make a fair decision...
  • Business as usual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microbox (704317) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:30PM (#27289389)
    The RIAA can't win in the courts, with advertising, or education of the young. Lobbyists haven't been able to get new laws passed. So the CEOs get their guys into the DOJ.

    What did we expect?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:31PM (#27289403)
    As a registered republican, I knew that the republicans would do everything in their power to secure the oil interests.

    Now that the dems are in power, you're surprised that they are doing everything to secure the media's interests? Really?

    Raise your hand if you were surprised by this posting.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:53PM (#27289625)

      Now that the dems are in power, you're surprised that they are doing everything to secure the media's interests? Really?

      Actually, Obama implemented policies to make lobbying, especially by insiders, harder. That includes big media. He also made claims that he would be sure to prevent people from favoring industries where they had just been hired from, or where they had the potential to be hired to (for example people can't leave the executive branch and then immediately become a lobbyist to the executive branch). This is interesting, because unlike most other changes Obama promised, this one was within his executive power. This makes it a good test of his intention since it is not something he has to rely upon and make compromises with Congress in order to accomplish.

      When he appointed these RIAA lawyers they were among a half dozen that made me cringe. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt for a short time as I did with the FOIA issue. Effective lawyers often come with baggage, although I'd rather he appointed some ACLU heavyweights. Now, I'll give him some time to become aware of the issue and take action to rein in his subordinates or replace them. I don't expect that will happen, in all honesty, but I am reserving judgement.

      Raise your hand if you were surprised by this posting.

      I was not surprised. I was slightly disappointed. Still, once these appointments were made, this was a near certainty. The measure will be how it is handled from here. Does he let them continue as they have been? Does Obama become aware of this issue and if so, does he do something about it? That will be the real test of if he is sincere and effective or if he is going to bend to the wishes of powerful lobbyists.

      • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday March 22, 2009 @04:03PM (#27290461)

        Effective lawyers often come with baggage, although I'd rather he appointed some ACLU heavyweights.

        On the other hand, if you look at the nature of the corporations they previously served, these individuals' ethics were already in question. That should have been enough to disqualify them. Baggage is one thing, but these people have a history of twisting the law around their middle fingers, disrespecting the Court system, and unnecessarily damaging a lot of people in the process. Had they been honorable men they would have put a stop to it, or resigned. That they did not is a clear indication that they are not honorable, and have in no way earned their current positions.

        Furthermore, looking at the cases in which they're choosing to intervene (given that there are certainly more substantive cases they could spend our money upon) I'm taking the view that their "baggage" is actively influencing their present behavior. How else could that be, given that after starting their new jobs they immediately began carrying on the RIAA's program? Is that even legal? Seems to me an investigation is in order: I, for one, would like to know for whom they really work. If it's not us they should be fired on the spot.

        I'll bet the champagne was flowing freely at RIAA headquarters when Obama's appointments were announced.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:33PM (#27289431) Homepage
    There was no reason for the administration to intervene at all in this case. There was no legal requirement for them to take a position in the case. This may not reflect favoring the RIAA so much as a general trend by the Obama adminstration to favor a very strong federal government going so far as to endorse many of Bush's worst positions (see for example http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/15/obama/ [salon.com]). Restrictions on statutory damages would thus be something the administration would not favor. Either way this isn't a good thing, but it may be premature to conclude that this indicates any particular bias towards towards the RIAA.
    • There was no reason for the administration to intervene at all in this case. There was no legal requirement for them to take a position in the case.

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. If they were going to intervene, they should have said "It is correct that the statutory damages provision of the Copyright Act is subject to a due process test. We take no position on whether the test enunciated in the 1919 Williams decision, or the more recent State Farm/Gore test, should determine the statute's constitutionality. We submit that the Court should defer ruling on the defense at this early stage of the case, and should await the outcome of the trial, in order to avoid any unnecessary determination of any constitutional question, and to allow any such determination to be made upon a full record, rather than in the abstract."

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:06PM (#27289783) Journal

      Either way this isn't a good thing, but it may be premature to conclude that this indicates any particular bias towards towards the RIAA.

      I agree with you there. As was noted the last time this was brought up, their brief really isn't about the RIAA or file-sharing so much as the constitutionality of the statutory damages part of the Copyright Act.

      On the other hand, that way of looking at the Eight Amendment is so sketch. It basically amounts to saying, "We (the Government) can't exact ridiculously high fines from you, but we can write a law that allows other to do so, with our consent and enforcement."

  • Yep! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:37PM (#27289477)
    No millions of young people are starting to get that feeling that their vote to "stick it to the man" resulted in getting stuck by the man.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:40PM (#27289511) Homepage Journal
    I'll come clean right off to bat. I did not vote for Obama. But, he is my president, and I've been rooting for him to succeed in the battle on the economic problems we all have.

    But, this type of ruling/defense by the administration, along with other things are really starting to bother me.

    There are several that are bothersome. The moving of the census to be controlled by the executive branch. This is scary enough, in that it should be more independent....and above political needs. I see on the news that possibly ACORN is being tapped to 'help' with the census. I'd think the controversy over the potential voting fraud they were associated with, would sideline them on this effort. Slanting the census will have FAR reaching influence over many, many issues and money for years to come.

    Obama was promising that he'd try to cut down earmarks..."line by line" I think was his quote. Yet, that Omnibus bill was loaded with what, like 8K of them?

    The move to help people in housing problems....where they are allowing judges to overturn, revamp the condition of valid contractual agreements, that is dangerous, with far reaching implications for valid contract law in the US.

    While it is understandable that people are pissed over the AIG bonuses...the acts passed by the house which try to retroactively and specically target these, again, is scary and I'd think unconstitutional. If these payouts were from valid contracts signed in the past, I don't see any clear way they could be overturned...and going after them retroactively by taxes...wow. I'm hoping the senate and especially Obama himself votes this down. It sets a bad precedent, and could really start to hurt US businesses. If valid contracts can be messed with like this....who wants to do business when you can't count on the terms being enforced?

    The latest proposals...to not only mandate what execs of bailout companies can make..but also implications coming out that they want to actually set limits on what healthy, non=bailout companies can pay....that acares me. Sounds very much the opposite of capitalism. It may be a populist view in terms of the current economy, but, wow....THAT would be a change.

    I want him to succeed in getting the country back in step....so we can all go back to trying to make a living without the interference of the government. That is the US way....at least ideally. Some of these policies coming out, seem to be a change to something the US is not....and never has been.

    I ask honestly...for not just those that voted for O, but, those that were adamant supporters...are these things truly what you were expecting for 'change'? Do you support all of this which seems to change what the basics of the US business is all about? I don't mean the corruption and waste...but, the basic principals that seem to be in jeopardy?

  • by logjon (1411219) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:50PM (#27289599)
    Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:54PM (#27289649)
    Things will not change as long as the people with the gold are able to make the rules by buying lawmakers.

    The fix is that candidates should only be permitted to accept campaign funds from people who are allowed to vote for them.
  • Other Motivation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @02:55PM (#27289659) Homepage

    I'm certainly not surprised to see a Democratic administration support the entertainment industry, but in this case they probably have other motivation as well. An unfavorable ruling here could be generalized to the awarding of amounts unrelated to actual damages for any reason. Since it is often the government that collects such awards...

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BobandMax (95054) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:02PM (#27289715)

    The "Entertainment" industry has "contributed" massive sums to the Democrat party for many years. Did anyone think that there would be no reciprocity? Corporations and wealthy individuals do not make political contributions because they are ideologically motivated. They do it because there will be a return on the investment. Well, here it is.

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:03PM (#27289725)

    Commentators had been fearing that the Obama/Biden administration would be tools of the RIAA; does this filing confirm those fears?"

    There is a implication there that the alternative McCain/Palin administration wouldn't have been tools of the RIAA. Whoever is in government is a tool of big industry. Its the fundamental natural of capitalist democracy.

  • !surprise (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sun.Jedi (1280674) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:03PM (#27289733) Journal

    In Obama America, hopes changes You!

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:04PM (#27289755)
    Do you guys realise from reading the comments how Slashdot has become to libertarians as Digg is for liberals?
  • by BountyX (1227176) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:10PM (#27289829)
    We need to decentralize the government. That way large corporations cant DoS our congress.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:14PM (#27289879)
    and other recent laws could be viewed as "corporate protectionism", which is classically a right-wing action, the Democrats have historically been particular friends of the entertainment industry. Which leaves the American people without a Government protector in this area.

    The only recourse we have is the courts. Let's hope that is sufficient.
  • More of the same (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @03:18PM (#27289919)

    This intervening is just part of a laundry list of documents regarding the case. If someone finds something specific about this phase of the trial, please chime in. Below is a copy and paste job of the original complaints. The guy is apparently up against fines up to $1 million dollars, so wouldn't it make sense to just settle and get back to school? That is what my parents would of said, and they would have paid (begrudgingly) up to $10k if there was anything near a 5% probability of me having to pay $1,000,000, the downtime from school, legal expenses, social problems, etc.

    Unless this guy, a Professor of law at Harvard Law School, and his family are all actually delusional enough to believe he is not expected to have to pay such a $1,000,000 fine to share music with his teenage friends. You know, the same stuff that you and I did as kids because we had more time than money and we really liked the latest music or even some of that older music that we heard on the radio.

    Why don't they just legalize music? Or at least decriminalize it.

    -hackstraw

    This case, like many others now before the Court, is one for
    copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. Â 106. The Plaintiffs are
    some of the nation's largest record companies. The Defendants in
    these consolidated cases are individual computer users -- mainly
    college students -- who, the Plaintiffs claim, used "peer-to-
    peer" file-sharing software to download and disseminate music
    without paying for it, infringing the Plaintiffs' copyrights.
    Many of the Defendants have defaulted or settled, largely without
    the benefit of counsel, subject to damages awards between $3,000
    and $10,000.

    Joel Tenenbaum ("Tenenbaum") is one of the few defendants
    represented by counsel, Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law
    School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He has
    chosen to challenge the action through a Motion to Amend
    Counterclaims (document # 686), his Opposition to the Plaintiffs'
    Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims (document # 676), and a Motion to
    Join the Recording Industry Association of America ("RIAA")
    (document # 693), all of which will be heard on January 22, 2009.
    Whether those counterclaims survive or not, he will proceed to a
    jury trial in this Court currently scheduled for March 30, 2009.
    While Tenenbaumâ(TM)s Motion to Permit Audio-Visual Coverage by CVN
    (document # 718) is directed to all proceedings going forward,
    this Order addresses only the proceeding on January 22, 2009,
    where legal arguments on the motions above will be heard.
    In many ways, this case is about the so-called Internet
    Generation -- the generation that has grown up with computer
    technology in general, and the internet in particular, as
    commonplace. It is reportedly a generation that does not read
    newspapers or watch the evening news, but gets its information
    largely, if not almost exclusively, over the internet. See
    generally Martha Irvine, Generation Raised Internet Comes of Age,
    MSNBC.com, Dec. 13, 2004, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6645963/ [msn.com].
    Consistent with the nature of these file-sharing cases, and the
    identity of so many of the Defendants, this case is one that has
    already garnered substantial attention on the internet.

  • I'm Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quothz (683368) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @04:31PM (#27290765) Journal

    it totally ignored all of the authorities and arguments that had been made by the Free Software Foundation in its brief

    Now, I'm not a lawyer, and I confess I haven't dug through the briefs. Leaving aside the question of why the White House is involved in this at all, this line confuses me.

    First, if the WH's brief concedes that statutory damages are subject to excessive damage review, I don't know why they would address the FSF's argument further in that regard.

    Secondly, if the administration cited SCOTUS and Circuit Court rulings, why would they need to address law review articles and District Court rulings? I'm under the impression that the higher courts trump the lower ones. I'd suggest, again with little knowledge of the matter, that the FSF failed by using weak citations. In an argument on Constitutional grounds, I have trouble seeing where the lower court rulings and journal articles should have more weight than a higher court ruling on a general case, even if the subject matter is more directly related.

    Any insight into this from someone who's read the briefs and, ideally, studied some law would be appreciated.

    Returning to the matter of the White House's involvement at all... guk. This seems to me to be, simply, beneath the White House. There's no reason I can see why they should feel they have an official interest in the matter. This should frankly be true when it comes to any Constitutional law decision of the courts; their job is to obey the big C as the courts interpret it, not to attempt to influence this. I've long held that the executive branch should show no interest in legal - especially Constitutional - interpretation beyond enforcing, obeying, and occasionally clarifying it.

    • Re:I'm Confused (Score:5, Informative)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:03PM (#27291129) Homepage Journal

      Now, I'm not a lawyer, and I confess I haven't dug through the briefs. Leaving aside the question of why the White House is involved in this at all, this line confuses me. First, if the WH's brief concedes that statutory damages are subject to excessive damage review, I don't know why they would address the FSF's argument further in that regard.

      Because the authorities cited by the FSF referred to the "State Farm/Gore" test; the Government took the position that the "Williams" test, and not the "State Farm/Gore" test is applicable.

      Secondly, if the administration cited SCOTUS and Circuit Court rulings, why would they need to address law review articles and District Court rulings? I'm under the impression that the higher courts trump the lower ones. I'd suggest, again with little knowledge of the matter, that the FSF failed by using weak citations. In an argument on Constitutional grounds, I have trouble seeing where the lower court rulings and journal articles should have more weight than a higher court ruling on a general case, even if the subject matter is more directly related.

      Because their authority was a wildly distinguishable case that is 90 years old, and because a great deal of recent jurisprudence has emanated from the US Supreme Court on how much is too much in the punitive damages sphere, and a number of recent authorities have stated that this US Supreme Court jurisprudence is applicable to statutory damages.

      Any insight into this from someone who's read the briefs and, ideally, studied some law would be appreciated. Returning to the matter of the White House's involvement at all... guk. This seems to me to be, simply, beneath the White House. There's no reason I can see why they should feel they have an official interest in the matter. This should frankly be true when it comes to any Constitutional law decision of the courts; their job is to obey the big C as the courts interpret it, not to attempt to influence this. I've long held that the executive branch should show no interest in legal - especially Constitutional - interpretation beyond enforcing, obeying, and occasionally clarifying it.

      I agree; I think this was a disgraceful display.

  • by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon&gamerslastwill,com> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @04:45PM (#27290923) Homepage Journal

    3 months ago, those 2 and 3 DOJ lackeys worked for the very organization on which behalf they're intervening.

    If the administration were serious about that whole lobbying conflict of interest line they touted in the beginning, the DOJ would quietly side-step this one.

    They're not, showing that the whole entertainment lobby is untrustworthy.

    I've said it before, but this proves it, those appointments were just plain stupid. Whomever Obama chose to vett those picks was not aware of the truth, damn truth, or actual truth in that matter.

    That they were qualified to work those posts may be true, but the appointments having the integrity and loyalty to serve is just truthy.

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