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DoJ Defends $1.92 Million RIAA Verdict 386

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

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  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:26PM (#29076845)
    I suppose this is what happens when you appoint a half-dozen ex-RIAA attorneys to top spots in the Justice Department. President Obama assured us that rules were put into place to prevent this sort of activity, but apparently that doesn't matter. Not that I'm the least bit surprised by that. Frankly, I think the Justice Department should have better things to occupy their time than civil lawsuits. That kind of bias ought to be considered malfeasance in office, or something else worthy of immediate dismissal.

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

    Punishment should fit the crime: otherwise it is just government-sanctioned brutality.
  • Doesn't Deter Me! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:27PM (#29076855)

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

  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:31PM (#29076889) Homepage Journal

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

    morons.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:32PM (#29076899) Homepage

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

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

  • 8th Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:39PM (#29076945)

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

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

  • Hey liberals! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:39PM (#29076951)

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

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:39PM (#29076953) Homepage

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

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

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

  • Not justice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:41PM (#29076971)

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

  • by Tynin (634655) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:45PM (#29076991)

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:46PM (#29077003)

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:47PM (#29077005)

    Department of Justice

    Now there's irony for you.

  • by Gabrill (556503) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:47PM (#29077007)

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

  • by ljaszcza (741803) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:52PM (#29077047)
    Well, RIAA should go after libraries next. Think of the hundreds of people that have viewed movies, listened to music, copied books and magazines, without paying their fair share. Billions of dollars must have been lost in sales over the years! Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the industry lost because of the scourge called a "public library". A true menace to this country and the American Way of Life. Sue them all, from the NY Public library to the smallest church library. If people want content, they should pay for content. One copy per device per user. We won't even start with the copying machine. No reason for those other then theft of printed content.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:59PM (#29077103)

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

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

  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:01PM (#29077119) Homepage
    In fact, the same stupid rationale for all draconian anti-drug laws: if you make the punishment really harsh, people won't do drugs. And just look how well it works! Everyone knows there aren't any junkies in New York!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:03PM (#29077131)

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

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

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

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

  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:07PM (#29077161)

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

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

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:10PM (#29077179) Homepage

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

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

    Simple example to see the difference:

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

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

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

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

  • by bennomatic (691188) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:11PM (#29077183) Homepage
    Sorry, gotta call BS on this, AC. It's one thing to break the DMCA because you want backups of your own music, or you want to be able to play that music on a device that's not officially supported. But to simply copy the music because you don't want to pay for it is a choice, pure and simple. If you don't like the price, well, you don't need what they're selling, and you don't have to buy it.

    Whether or not it's stealing is one thing. But it is indeed use without compensation. Buying from iTunes or Amazon or any number of other DRM-free vendors is a perfectly reasonable solution. To claim that it's rape is childish and ignorant because if you say "no" to their product, they won't take your money.
  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:12PM (#29077193) Homepage

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

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

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

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

  • by eqisow (877574) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:14PM (#29077217) Homepage
    You do know there are minor labels, digital distributors such as Jamendo and Magnatune, as well as unsigned/independent artists, right? Some of music you'll find there is quite good. Subjectively, I'd even venture to say the good/bad ratio is better than the major labels.
  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:15PM (#29077221) Homepage

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

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

  • by ZackSchil (560462) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:18PM (#29077249)

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

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

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

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

  • Re:I am deterred (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spewns (1599743) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:22PM (#29077283)
    I'm deterred as well. Deterred from ever buying movies and music again. I haven't in some time now - ever since this absurd crusade started - and I couldn't be happier. All one needs are public libraries and http://jamendo.com/ [jamendo.com] - there's much better music on here than any of the shit you're generally going to find on major record labels anyway. Why are people still donating money to these machines? You're subsidizing tyranny over your own population.
  • by amentajo (1199437) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:23PM (#29077295)

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

    <ianal>

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

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

    </ianal>

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:27PM (#29077335) Journal

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

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

  • by etymxris (121288) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:28PM (#29077345)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:32PM (#29077367)

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

  • Re:finally (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:36PM (#29077409)

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

  • by fox171171 (1425329) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:50PM (#29077531)
    Possibly even a laser printer or two as well...
  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:51PM (#29077537)
    This answer always amuses me because it makes it seem like we have another choice. We don't -- or at least we have very little other options.

    Actually, it is your answer that is amusing. You don't have a choice but to buy music from major labels?
  • dear D.O.J. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @02:58PM (#29077621)
    you should really change your name to the Department of Injustice, because what you do has nothing to do with justice and all to do with propping up corporate greed, maybe the Department of Greedy CockSuckers would be a name that would suit you even better...
  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:00PM (#29077627)
    Oh noes!!! I read a chapter out of a book at a store today...STEALING! I recorded some music on my cell phone at a concert...STEALING! I recorded broadcast TV on my home DVR and took out the commercials...STEALING!

    You holier-than-thou sanctimonious defenders of big business make me sick. They are out to get as much money as possible without any regard for ethics and people like you not only move out of the way, you defend their actions and allow them to shift terminology so copyright infringement becomes "stealing".

    I'll ask one question. Are 24 songs worth utterly destroying somebody's life over, making them destitute and indebted to a soulless conglomerate of businesses?
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:05PM (#29077665)

    The story seems to suggest that the DOJ said that a $1.92 million was perfectly constitutional. My interpretation of the brief seems that the DOJ did not specifically say that. What the brief said was that DOJ considers statutory damages as envisioned by the Copyright Act as legal and that imposing statutory damages does not violate due process. The amount of the damage, however, is up to the trial court to decide and the DOJ was not going to second-guess the court on the amount. The DOJ only responded to Ms. Thomas' constitutional challenges not the actual award:

    This discussion is not to suggest an answer of whether an award should be remitted in this particular case, but rather to suggest an answer to such a question should precede any resolution of Ms. Thomas' constitutional arguments.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:06PM (#29077673)

    We should just declare them galactic rulers and do their every bidding.

    Don't give them ideas.

  • by KwKSilver (857599) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:08PM (#29077681)
    Author to author, what would you propose? 20 years in prison? Significant enough? How about death? Still not enough? How about having the accused waterboarded to extract confessions, followed by months of really gruesome torture, then stoning them death? Maybe you'd just like to enslave them and use them as your personal chattel? Never mind, that's pretty close to what these "judgments" do.

    Absurd bullcrap like this and the ongoing drive towards eternal copyright (why isn't 17 + 17 years enough?!) discredits copyright and, as someone further up observed, encourages a profound contempt for the law.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:21PM (#29077777)

    If you like a particular artist, you have to buy that artist's work from their label. It's not like Walmart and Target where if you don't like the price of Coca-Cola at Walmart then you can just buy it at Target. If your favorite artist's work is locked up with DRM, which you want to avoid, your only choice is to violate the DMCA. Or you can violate copyright and download it for free. What other choice do you have? Download YouTube videos of someone doing a bad cover version of the songs you like? There is no other choice.

  • Re:finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:26PM (#29077823) Homepage

    It's not the voice of reason any more than some Taliban Mullah is.

    We don't cut people's hands off for stealing anymore.

    In their zeal to help prop up corporations to the detriment of
    real people, the armchair moralists like to gloss over this fact.

    Apparently ideas embodied by "tort reform" are not for real people
    but only for insurance companies and the lie.

  • Not a Clue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:26PM (#29077827)
    Just another reason to throw the whole establishment out -- Democrats and Republicans -- and elect an entirely new government that actually has a clue about how unreasonable this all is. And until that can happen, stop them from committing any more damage on the rest of us. All that never-actually-defined Hope and Change isn't working out at all well from my vantage point.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:34PM (#29077899) Homepage

    They also don't ask for a 5 figure fine per candy bar as a "deterrent".

    The laws surrounding shoplifting are actually remarkably less barbaric than those involving copyright.

    The details of the consequences of real stealing are conspicuously left out of these discussions by those clamoring for punishment.

  • by Wildclaw (15718) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:36PM (#29077909)

    Well, tell that to the thousand and thousands of people who die yearly in third world countries because of the patent laws championed by US interests. Or all the students who are forced to buy specific copyrighted material. Or all the poor who can only afford very little entertainment because of an artifically created shortage of supply. Or all the people who desperatly try to fit in socially by consuming their group's culture. (and if you tell me people don't need to fit in socially, then you don't understand basic human needs)

    Copyright and Patents are a fraud from start to finish. You can't claim to improve science and useful arts by restricting the distribution of the same. And the fraud is simple. Make money move up, by allowing those who are better at exploiting margin profits to do so. (and yes, exploiting margin profits are something the rich excel at)

  • Re:finally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:45PM (#29077967) Homepage Journal
    I was referring to coldwetdog's comment [slashdot.org], not the verdict. It is possible to think that you should pay for music and still think that the RIAA is out of control.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:49PM (#29077983)

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

    not only that, but this would also allow the gp "author" to profit greatly by leaving his cameras unattended and not even marked as belonging to anyone (among and indistinguishable by non-experts from other cameras that are free) - with potential multi-million-dollar profits awarded by a crooked judge to "punish" some one who (unwittingly?) used the camera.

    why even bother trying to make and sell good cameras then?

  • by melikamp (631205) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:01PM (#29078089) Homepage Journal

    [...] you're just wrong and rather ignorant of the complex interplay between work, production, economics and entertainment [...]

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

    I wonder, do you understand the interplay between work, production, etc.? Your advice is to boycott them, so they definitely won't see any cash out of you. So when you say "Don't steal[sic] it", you must be appealing to ethics, because you are just fine with the idea of hurting them economically. And we maintain that copyright law, in its present state and as applied to digitized fine art, is unethical. To put it very simply, it creates artificial scarcity where there is none. You can read Moglen, Stallman, Lessig for starters. They explain why US copyright law is broken and unjust, and imho they make a very strong case. Unless you are able to counter standard arguments, please do not tell us what not to do with Internet connections we paid for.

  • by WCguru42 (1268530) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:21PM (#29078211)

    If you shoplift a candy bar and get caught they don't just ask for the money...

    And if I lift a whole box of snickers (48ct) I'm probably not getting a million dollar fine. Even if I lifted a whole pallet of snickers boxes (let's say 1000 boxes) I still probably wouldn't get a million dollar fine. While file sharing is indeed illegal the punishments for these crimes seem to fly in the face of the 8th amendments provision against cruel and unusual punishments.

  • Stealing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:44PM (#29078379) Journal

    That's not stealing. THIS [wikipedia.org] is stealing. In that example hundreds of millions of people are actually deprived their intellectual property - not just a few songs either, but millions of audible and visual records of history and culture spanning the 75 years. And by stealing all history and culture for what is the lifespan of an average person they deprive us of the very continuity of culture we as humans require to remain oriented and purposeful. This is a very real harm.

    Let's not lose our perspective on which is the greater wrong. It's actually comparing one person sharing a few songs to the literal Farenheit 451 [wikipedia.org] theft of an entire culture.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:44PM (#29078383)

    So if I am hanging around on the street with my camera and take your picture, I've stolen your picture?

    (This is legal by US law, btw)

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:57PM (#29078453) Journal

    The problem is this: The USA copyright system was a contract nothing more. In return for a limited copyright We, The People got a richer public domain. Only now the contract has been completely broken thanks to treasonous bribery. Now copyrights will go on forever, because thanks to the large bribes...err I mean campaign contributions of multinational corporations (who could be argued are deciding most if not all of our laws now thanks to said bribes) they can just keep getting it extended for eternity.

    The system is completely broken and I don't care which side you are on you should have ZERO support for this corrupted, perverted, disgusting use of bribes and political favors we now call the US copyright system. Want proof it is broken? One sentence: Steamboat Willie is STILL under copyright! The man has been worm food (or a popsicle, your choice) for nearly a half century and one of his FIRST works, made when airplanes were cloth and wood and antibiotics were just a dream in a doctor's eye, is STILL under copyright!!!

    Until copyright laws are returned to their original lengths or WE, The People actually get a voice at the bargaining table, then ALL copyright laws in the USA should be looked upon as a broken contract and treated as the worthless piece of paper that they are. Because in the face of rampant corruption it is the ONLY choice left to you. They have locked our history behind paywalls, stolen our public domain away from us and our families, and use their offices for graft collection. To actually respect this cabal of greed and corruption? You are either insane or a fool.

  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:04PM (#29078495) Homepage

    it is a 'taking' in the sense of limiting the 'owner' of the 'property' (in this case the distribution rights to a file) from doing what the law says they are allowed to do

    Well, no. Nothing has been taken away from the copyright holder, and the holder still has the legal right to exclude others from distributing the sound recording. Because the infringer is ignoring the exclusion, the holder will have to go to court to enforce his right. If the infringer ignores the court, the court will use the power of United States law enforcement officials to back up the right of the copyright holder, e.g. having the infringer's property seized and sold at auction to cover damage awards, having the infringer jailed for violating a court order, etc.

    This is what the law grants: a right to exclude others, and a means of backing that up if someone ignores the exclusion. No degree of infringement can ever take that away. No infringer can prevent a copyright holder from going to court. No infringer can prevent a copyright holder from deciding who may and may not use the work in ways that are covered under copyright.

    What you seem to be imagining is some sort of inviolable right that needs no remedy because things will never get that far. But that's simply impossible.

    and as such can create a harm, much like stealing an iPhone.

    Just because something causes harm, that doesn't make it stealing, or anything akin to it. Arson isn't stealing, but if I burn your house down, it clearly causes you harm. Rather than try to cram the offense into the realm of stealing, where it obviously doesn't belong, we have a separate law just for arson. Likewise, copyright infringement is its own thing, and is not ever treated as a kind of stealing or theft or whatnot.

    Note also that merely causing harm doesn't make something illegal, either. If you write a non-fiction book which is a best seller, and I publish an article that shows that the book is completely wrong, and as a direct result of my article, no one ever buys your book again, I've done you tremendous harm, but I've also acted completely legally.

    It's a law (perhaps a stupid one, but that's a matter of opinion). If you disagree with how the law is either written or enforced you have certain options. Including breaking the law, but that's what you're doing.

    While I agree that laws should be respected, I also think that laws should be worthy of our respect. An unworthy law not only engenders disrespect for itself, it also encourages disrespect for other laws, and general lawlessness.

    Also, why are you saying that I am breaking the law? Perhaps you have me confused with another poster?

  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:16PM (#29078585) Homepage

    SO when you take a copyrighted work and distributed it without the copyright owners consent, the legal right to exclusively control the copying and distribution of that work is still in tact and functioning? Nothing has been taken away?

    You mean like when I buy a book, and then without the consent of the copyright holder, I sell the used book to someone else, as the law permits me to do per 17 USC 109? Just because the copyright holder doesn't consent to something, that doesn't make it illegal.

    And even in the case where the distribution is infringing, yes, the right is intact. The right has not been taken away. The right has, however, been infringed upon.

    Read that carefully, exclusively is what the law says and it does not mean more people then the copyright owners.

    Actually, when copyright law talks of an exclusive right, it is a term of art. An exclusive right is a right to exclude others. Like if you own a piece of land, you have an exclusive right to it, which means you can tell other people not to trespass. If someone does trespass, this doesn't mean you don't own the land, or that the land has been taken away from you. It means that now you have to enforce your right by, e.g. calling the police to kick the trespasser out, going to court and suing for trespass, etc.

    If the right were taken away, then the copyright holder could not go to court to enforce it; since it wouldn't be his right anymore, and pretty much the first thing you have to prove in order to get to court in a copyright suit is that there is a registered copyright, and you have the copyright.

  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:21PM (#29078613) Homepage

    Actually, the effect of the right disappears while the act is happening.

    No, if Alice has a copyright, and Bob infringes on it, Alice still has the right to license the copyright to Carol throughout the duration of Bob's infringement. Not one iota of the right 'disappears.'

    Compare this with when the copyright terminates, then the copyright disappears as a matter of law, and Alice does indeed lose the right to license to Carol. Not that Carol minds; once the copyright has terminated, the work is in the public domain, and she doesn't have to get a license from anyone to do as she likes with the work.

  • by paeanblack (191171) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:46PM (#29079163)

    I also think that stealing (yep, that's the word) of commercial data isn't correct either.

    Can you steal a piece of real estate? You can trespass on it, you can pollute it, you can economically damage rightsowners, but you can't steal it.

    Published content is like land. You cannot own published content; you can only own rights to the content. If published content were actually privately owned, Congress would have no ability to expire a copyright. That would be like expiring your rights to own the shirt on your back.

    Published content is owned by society, and certain rights are given to authors. We do the same for land: society gives you many rights of ownership over your plot of land, but you never own it. Society retains ownership and can reclaim all the rights of ownership through eminent domain.

    Just like you have no right to piss in my front yard, you have no rights to my published content. Copyright infringement is illegal for a good reason. However, when you run around saying "downloading songs is stealing!", you sound like a clueless idiot claiming that somebody stole the lawn from Apple's headquarters. It is nonsensical babble.

    If you were talking about unpublished content, then you would be correct to claim theft. Your private data can indeed be stolen, because you have not yet transferred your ownership to society through the act of publication.

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