Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music

Supreme Court Refuses P2P 'Innocent Sharing' Case 351

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-need-some-dinner dept.
yoyo81 writes "The Supreme Court has refused to hear an 'innocent infringement case' in which Whitney Harper shared some music on the family computer when she was a teenager and was subsequently hit with a lawsuit from the RIAA. An appeals court overturned an earlier ruling from a federal court that reduced damages to $200 instead of the statutory $750 claiming 'innocence' was no defense, especially since copyright notices appear on all phonorecords. She appealed to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear her case, but Justice Alito stated, 'This provision was adopted in 1988, well before digital music files became available on the Internet' and further, 'I would grant review in this case because not many cases presenting this issue are likely to reach the Courts of Appeals.' For now, though, Harper's verdict remains in place: $750 for each of the 37 songs at issue, or $27,750."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Supreme Court Refuses P2P 'Innocent Sharing' Case

Comments Filter:
  • Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @05:50PM (#34396548)

    "This provision was adopted in 1988, well before digital music files became available on the Internet"

    So in other words "We get to bend the law to suit our corporate overlord's desires."

    • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @05:55PM (#34396608)

      It's not as though supreme court justices need to be reelected every few years. Once they're in they're pretty much in for as long as they want to be. So, unless the record companies are remodeling their houses or sending personal 'gifts' for the holidays, I see it as less likely than usual that this a case of corruption. Now, the actual laws that the justices are interpreting... there you have a point.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Antisyzygy (1495469)
        I understand the finer details. I was mainly making a joke. I think what it really is, is that the RIAA/MPAA has succeeded in its propaganda effort geared towards those in government. The Judge may in fact believe it causes significant damage to share a song, he also probably makes quite a bit of money so 27750 dollars seems like an adequate punishment to him, but its clearly excessive for any person that makes less than 60,000 a year. He is mistaken simply because he hasn't heard the whole truth and is not
        • The Judge may in fact believe it causes significant damage to share a song, he also probably makes quite a bit of money so 27750 dollars seems like an adequate punishment to him, but its clearly excessive for any person that makes less than 60,000 a year. He is mistaken simply because he hasn't heard the whole truth and is not this woman's peer.

          If you read Alito's comment (even the part listed above), you might notice that he was in favour of hearing the case.

          Your comment rather suggests the opposite. Whi

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Swanktastic (109747)

          I doubt being "out of touch" is the reason they declined to hear the case. Supreme Court justices aren't just sitting in some dusty old room reading law books alone, they have an entire organization of clerks to do research and advise them. It's common for 25 year olds (the top of the classes from Harvard/Yale law) to have tremendous sway over the court and our nations' laws through their clerk duties. A justice here and there may say something dumb, but the Court as a whole is quite well informed.

          This p

          • It's common for 25 year olds (the top of the classes from Harvard/Yale law)

            Precisely the problem. What percentage of Harvard and Yale students also come from wealthy or semi-wealthy backgrounds? Do they have a concept of how severe a punishment such as the aforementioned is for a lower/middle class person? Do the professors who teach these students at Harvard and Yale have anything in common with a lower/middle class?

            Perhaps the last question is a bit of a stretch, but as far as justice is concerned : This woman should be able to make a case she is an "innocent infringer" simply b

      • It's not as though supreme court justices need to be reelected every few years. Once they're in they're pretty much in for as long as they want to be. So, unless the record companies are remodeling their houses or sending personal 'gifts' for the holidays, I see it as less likely than usual that this a case of corruption. Now, the actual laws that the justices are interpreting... there you have a point.

        While it's no indication that they can be bought, fact is people are still greedy. And at $200k-$230K (roughly), there's plenty of buying room for corporate interests to exploit - assuming there are greedy enough people on the SC. Does it mean it happens? No. Does it mean it doesn't? No. Does it mean it's possible? Hell yeah.

        People making far more have been bribed... I'd suspect the possibility of buying/bribing someone who's locked into a job for life is probably at least a little higher than bribing som

      • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

        by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @07:06PM (#34397438) Journal

        The seeds of corruption of the Supreme Court are sowed early, and their appointments are utterly political. The conservative wing of the court were bought and paid for every time their careers advanced.

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tjhart85 (1840452) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @05:58PM (#34396656)
      Wow, so their explanation of why they won't hear the case is based on the fact that she saw the copyright notice on the CD that she doesn't have? That's almost as bad as an EULA INSIDE the product you by and if you don't agree with it, you can't return the product since you've opened it.
      • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

        by yoyo81 (598597) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:04PM (#34396730)
        Not quite. That's precisely why Alito says they SHOULD hear the case. The reason why they're not hearing the case is because there is no dissent among the lower courts, so really they have no grounds to hear it. He hopes to eventually hear this case when the lower courts do disagree, as written in the summary, he thinks that the law is outdated. He also acknowledges what you're saying - that she did not have access to the copyright notice.
        • He also acknowledges what you're saying - that she did not have access to the copyright notice.

          I propose each and every song released from now on should have the copyright notice read allowed by the performer at the beginning of the song. That should make for some interesting radio indeed.

        • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:30PM (#34397010)

          Not quite. That's precisely why Alito says they SHOULD hear the case. The reason why they're not hearing the case is because there is no dissent among the lower courts, so really they have no grounds to hear it.

          This is not correct. The Supreme Court has "grounds" to hear any case appealed on a question of law from a lower court (as well as those cases within its original jurisdiction.) The Supreme Court's apellate jurisdiction is, however, generally discretionary, so it may choose whether or not to here any case that someone wants it to hear on appeal. An inconsistency between the Courts of Appeals on a legal issue is one factor that is often cited, in the Court's decisions on whether or not to here an appeal, as weighing in factor of the Court exercising its discretionary jurisdiction, but it is not a prerequisite, and cases are not-infrequently heard where this condition does not apply.

          He hopes to eventually hear this case when the lower courts do disagree, as written in the summary, he thinks that the law is outdated.

          No, he says they should hear this specific case now, citing one of the specific factors that is frequently cited as weighing in favor of the Supreme Court exercising its discretionary jurisdiction when there is not a division among the Courts of Appeals -- specifically, the fact that "not many cases presenting this issue are likely to reach the Courts of Appeals". His position was a dissent from the decision of the court to not hear the appeal.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by shentino (1139071)

            And the fact that SCOTUS has to shed load just to avoid drowning in paperwork is a testament to the abuse of the legal system.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SETIGuy (33768)

          The reason why they're not hearing the case is because there is no dissent among the lower courts, so really they have no grounds to hear it.

          Yes, I'm sure the Supreme Court would never reopen a previously decided case that wasn't even before them for no good reason just because they wanted to overturn a century's worth of precedent. That would be unimaginable. (cough, citizens united, cough)

          The truth is the Supreme Court can hear any case it wants. They can bring in a case waiting for initial appeal if they want. They could probably stop an ongoing proceeding that wasn't an appeal and hold the initial trial in the supreme court, in which

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tom Boz (1570397) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:00PM (#34396678)
      I think you misinterpreted what Justice Alito said - he *wanted* to hear the case; that sentence comes from his dissent. He would prefer to reexamine the laws which were written before a new medium was available (or at least widely available).
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by RasputinAXP (12807)

        If i had the mod points, I'd throw them to you. +1

      • It was a politically-charged joke. However, counter-point: Why are some laws still taken so seriously after 50-200 years and others simply re-evaluated because "(some new thing) happened"? New things happen all the time. We recognize that firearms are no longer needed for 1. Hunting because you can just get a steak at the store, 2. Protection from animal attacks because we have simply killed off or made irrelevant most predator species, and 3. Protection from criminals because we have a standing police forc

        • We recognize that firearms are no longer needed for 1. Hunting because you can just get a steak at the store, 2. Protection from animal attacks because we have simply killed off or made irrelevant most predator species, and 3. Protection from criminals because we have a standing police force. So why bother with it? Furthermore, owning firearms wouldn't amount to diddly squat against the modern military. Lets just repeal the second amendment. Its clearly no longer .

          Spoken like someone who's spent his entire

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          She was a teenager and couldn't enter into a legal contract anyway. That would have been the crux of my defence if it was me.

          IANAL but my L is.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It is not just that some "new thing" happened, it is that the "new thing" means that the reason "innocence" is not a defense, according to the law, is no longer reasonable even though it was at the time the law was written.
      • by xkr (786629)
        yes, duh.
    • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:01PM (#34396688) Homepage

      No, SCOTUS is doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. It interpolates *existing* laws, it doesn't (or shouldn't) legislate from the bench. If you want the laws changed, write/speak to your congress (wo)man. FYI , we have three branches of government in the US. Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Know their proper function please.

      • Can the Supreme Court not strike down an existing law? (Curious non-USian)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NiceGeek (126629)

          Yes they can, and have if they find that the law is unconstitutional.

          • by eepok (545733)

            Or if they find it in contradiction of other more established laws. It's a common misunderstanding that they can only deal with strictly constitutional issues because, normally, only constitutional issues make it all the way through the appeals.

            Their general charter, if you will, is to ensure the development of orderly federal law.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          Can the Supreme Court not strike down an existing law? (Curious non-USian)

          The Supreme Court can rule that, e.g., an Act of Congress purporting to be a law is not a law, because it is outside of Congress's Constitutional authority, or that a state law, because it conflicts with federal law (whether the Constitution, statute, treaty, etc.) cannot be enforced by the State. These actions are often described as "striking down existing law", but they are, actually, interpreting existing law.

      • No, SCOTUS is doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. It interpolates *existing* laws

        First, I think you mean "interpret".

        Second, in refusing to hear the case here which raised a question of whether the lower court correctly applied the existing law to the facts of this case, the Supreme Court isn't interpreting any law (except, implicitly, the Constitutional provision granting it discretionary rather than mandatory appellate jurisdiction), it is choosing not to bother to here the arguments and interpr

      • write/speak to your congress (wo)man.

        The same ones bowing down to large corporations? It likely won't work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you want the laws changed, write/speak to your congress (wo)man.

        I laugh every time I see this. First off, if your congress (wo)man's political party opposes your view, you are immediately S.O.L. Secondly, if you want to effect change, a letter isn't going to do anything except prompt a bland response via form letter. Every time. Join or form a lobby and donate LOTS of money. Donate to the target party's/parties' campaign(s) as well; now that donation limits have been abolished, your ability to "help" your party has only improved, right?

        Know their proper function please.

        Just wow. It's their function t

    • "This provision was adopted in 1988, well before digital music files became available on the Internet"

      So in other words "We get to bend the law to suit our corporate overlord's desires."

      LoL, while I think your modding (so far) is warranted, I find it humorous that the first poster pretty much said the same thing but was modded troll. I think you're both probably right (as some other recent USSC cases have proven), and hopefully the AC will earn some better moderation for a probably accurate first post - heck, the attempt at an on topic first post alone should warrant a + mod of some sort (rarity that it is). ;-)

  • by Stregano (1285764) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @05:56PM (#34396620)
    I guess it is time to get my weekly -1 since some of this stuff I have a different opinion than others:

    She knew exactly what she was doing. That would be like me shoplifting from a store that did not have a Shoplifters will be prosecuted sign" and claiming that I did not know I could not shoplift.

    Look. I pirate and many others on /. do as well. Everybody knows it is illegal and there is a chance of getting caught. I am just glad I am not the one getting caught, and I would be in trouble for much more than 37 songs.

    If you do something illegal and get caught, even if we think the penalty is horrible, the excuses some people use are ridiculous. If she was so naive to think that there was nothing illegal about downloading the music and not paying for it, then how in the hell did she figure out how to do it in the first place. I am trying to say that every single person that pirates knows it is illegal. Well, most people do. If you show grandma how to download Elvis songs, it is possible she could have no idea, but those cases are so far and few between, that I would put them in to 1% of all pirates in a study I made up myself to help out my argument.

    If you are going to download music, there is always a chance of getting caught. This excuse is a horrible excuse as well
    • by tycoex (1832784) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:03PM (#34396722)

      True but the penalty is ridiculous. If you get caught stealing 3 cd's at a store and you aren't even an adult yet, they will most likely just take them from you and call your parents. At most you will get a small fine for stealing under $100 worth of goods, which is only a misdemeanor.

      If this becomes the norm we might as well start actually stealing from stores, since the penalty is so much smaller.

      • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:17PM (#34396858)

        If this becomes the norm we might as well start actually stealing from stores, since the penalty is so much smaller.

        If you steal a music CD from a store, and then make a bunch of copies and start distributing them, expect the same penalty. The girl is not charged with theft, she's charged with distribution of a copyrighted work. Her defense is that she didn't know she was distributing it, and the court says that doesn't matter. This line strikes me as odd though:

        claiming "innocence" was no defense

        I guess there's a reason they wrote it in quotes, but I was under the impression that innocence, by definition, is in fact always a defense. Apparently not.

        • by pookemon (909195)

          Her defense is that she didn't know she was distributing it, and the court says that doesn't matter. This line strikes me as odd though:

          Easy enough to do if your a nub and you use something like DC++ (but mostly it comes down to being a Nub).

          claiming "innocence" was no defense

          I guess there's a reason they wrote it in quotes, but I was under the impression that innocence, by definition, is in fact always a defense. Apparently not.

          Yeah - I lol'd at that too. However essentially what her defence came down to is "Ignorance" - which is not a defence here in Oz and probably isn't accepted as a defence in the US too.

          • Yeah - I lol'd at that too. However essentially what her defence came down to is "Ignorance" - which is not a defence here in Oz and probably isn't accepted as a defence in the US too.

            Ignorance of the law is not a defense.
            Ignorance of facts can very much be a defense, depending on the situation. Like in this case, where it actually makes a difference whether you know that something is under copyright or whether you mistakenly believe that it isn't. This is a case where the law actually says that ignorance is a defense.

        • The girl is not charged with theft, she's charged with distribution of a copyrighted work.

          Which, for some reason, is far more costly. She might as well have just stole the extra copies instead of copying them (that's what I think he was saying).

          Her defense is that she didn't know she was distributing it, and the court says that doesn't matter.

          While I support piracy, ignorance is a pretty poor excuse.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In this case the word "innocence" is not used to mean "not guilty" but to mean "young, naive, and ignorant"

        • The girl is not charged with theft, she's charged with distribution of a copyrighted work. Her defense is that she didn't know she was distributing it, and the court says that doesn't matter.

          You know, if you wrote a worm that would root computers, and then set up a low bandwidth background torrent, it would really wreck the RIAA's ability to claim that people 'knew what they were doing', since it would set up a situation where anyone could be hosting files without consent or knowledge.
      • by pookemon (909195)
        Agreed. I'm always amazed that the amount of sharing involved doesn't ever get a mentioned. Sure, she shared it with 50,000 people, meaning that she effectively stole 150,000 CD's and gave them out. So 50k ppl are then guilty of receiving stolen goods while one is guilty of the theft. However, if she downloaded the 37 songs and had a share ratio of 0.1 across the entire collection, she's guilty of stealing the 3 CD's (as you've described) but has she actually provided anything more than 3 songs worth to
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MozeeToby (1163751)

      When 90+% of the population is engaging in an activity, maybe it shouldn't be illegal, especially when very few of the perpetrators are being caught and tried. Think about targeted enforcement, anyone the RIAA doesn't like can have their life torn out from under them by sending a single letter and file some court papers, and if not them then their friends and family.

      It's the same thing on the criminal side of the law. Let's pretend that I did something to piss off a member of Obama's staff. That guy call

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        When 90+% of the population is engaging in an activity, maybe it shouldn't be illegal, especially when very few of the perpetrators are being caught and tried.

        Even though your 90+% is a tad exaggerated, would you say the same thing if 90+% of the population were smoking pot or meth? How about committing vandalism or looting? How about writing hate mail or sending envelopes with an unknown white powder inside?

        Something isn't right just because "everyone is doing it" ...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Burning1 (204959)

          Even though your 90+% is a tad exaggerated, would you say the same thing if 90+% of the population were smoking pot or meth? How about committing vandalism or looting? How about writing hate mail or sending envelopes with an unknown white powder inside?

          But 90% of the population isn't smoking meth, or looting, or vandalizing. So your argument might support the idea that popular activities should be legalized.

          And in fact, through history most of the things that 90% of the population do have been legal until t

        • How do you propose to keep 90% of the population in prison? Robots?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Even though your 90+% is a tad exaggerated... How about writing hate mail or sending envelopes with an unknown white powder inside?
          Something isn't right just because "everyone is doing it" ...

          Hey, I run a mail-order bakery and I was sending samples of baking powder to every household in America. Didn't you hear of the "Killer Ingredients at Drop-Dead prices" campaign?

          In retrospect, it wasn't the best marketing campaign, and I'm up for parole soon, but excuse ME for thinking that we were ALLOWED to be ENTREPRENEURS in AMERICA.

      • by Haedrian (1676506)
        Once upon a time there was something called Democracy

        The idea was the the majority would define what is right and what is wrong.

        Somewhere across the line however it turned into a "the people who can pull up the most money", and we're stuck that.

        I don't think it should be legal to copy songs which the owners don't want you to - but they shouldn't have a few hundred dollars each in punishment.
        • by Vancorps (746090)
          Indeed, there should be a distinction between personal file sharing and actively pirating and making money. The statues are in place for CD duplicators and not online distribution where many people can and do distribute unknowingly.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:07PM (#34396762) Journal

      Well I guess I might as well as hop in the ring and get modded down as well. Time for one of those annoying point/counterpoint posts.

      She knew exactly what she was doing. That would be like me shoplifting from a store that did not have a
      Shoplifters will be prosecuted sign" and claiming that I did not know I could not shoplift.

      No. It's not always like that. The article doesn't say when this took place. When I was 16, I didn't know downloading music was considered illegal. Like her - I naturally assumed that since you don't get the full content that comes with a CD, and that songs are played for free on the radio DAILY with no laws against recording the radio - that downloading music was not an issue at all. It was only once I started reading the news (as most teenagers don't actually read the news, go figure) that I found out the whole issue with Napster and Metallica causing a whole big stink. NOW I know there is an issue, and back then I didn't - which is what she's claiming.

      Look. I pirate and many others on /. do as well. Everybody knows it is illegal and there is a chance of getting caught. I am just glad I am not the one getting caught, and I would be in trouble for much more than 37 songs.

      Thats the thing - some of us disagree in it's illegality. Like mentioned with Radio before, they get to air it for free, and I can record any song on the radio, put the sound file on my MP3, and I am completely free of any Copyright issues. Mixed tapes were all the rage, why aren't there ridiculous lawsuits against every highschool romantic guy who ever made a mixed tape?

      If you do something illegal and get caught, even if we think the penalty is horrible, the excuses some people use are ridiculous. If she was so naive to think that there was nothing illegal about downloading the music and not paying for it, then how in the hell did she figure out how to do it in the first place. I am trying to say that every single person that pirates knows it is illegal. Well, most people do. If you show grandma how to download Elvis songs, it is possible she could have no idea, but those cases are so far and few between, that I would put them in to 1% of all pirates in a study I made up myself to help out my argument.

      This is EXACLTY the point she is trying to make: She was just a teenager. She wasn't some leet phreak hacker like you or I - she wasn't visitting Slashdot every day of the week and wasn't a proud supporter of open source technology. She was someone who probably went over to a friends house, they said "Hey, see this thing called Limewire? You can use it to download songs. Its great! Here', I'll set it up when I'm over at your house next".

      She likely had NO idea of the consequences when this happened.

      If you are going to download music, there is always a chance of getting caught. This excuse is a horrible excuse as well

      Yes - but when you aren't aware it's illegal, thats where the contraversy arises. No - ignorance of the law is not an excuse - you can't say "But I didn't know!". What creates a problem is the double standards - when it is perfectly fine for someone to create a duplicate copy of a song in one way without any consequence but doing it in a certain way ends in multiple thousands of dollars in lawsuits.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jaktar (975138)

        I had to look up some info on what exact precedents have been made in courts regarding this. So, here it is...
        http://www.jwharrison.com/blog/2007/01/20/recording-the-radio-is-legal-recording-satellite-radio-is-illegal/ [jwharrison.com]
        Satellite radio is illegal to record, while standard radio is in the clear.

        The main argument being standard radio is more lossy. Not a very good argument IMHO.

        • by tkrotchko (124118)

          "The main argument being standard radio is more lossy. Not a very good argument IMHO."

          The only people making that argument are the ones who have never listened to satellite radio.

          Even good satellite radio (an oxymoron) probably has as much loss as a 3rd generation cassette. It sounds basically like shortwave radio. Its *good enough* for listening to in the car, but that's about it.

      • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @02:40AM (#34401434) Homepage

        The claim that ignorance of the law is no excuse might have once held water, but these days it's unconscionable. There is not a single person anywhere in the U.S. that actually does know every law in their jurisdiction. There's not even a formal listing of laws in their current form, just a bunch of patches to patches to patches with the final resulting text recorded nowhere at all.

        We all know that murder, robbery and such are illegal, and those of us who drive understand the major traffic laws reasonably well, but there's a bunch of stuff hardly any of us know. It's quite easy to imagine we might innocently break those laws.

        Back in the days of Napster, I can easily see people believing file trading to be perfectly legal. After all, there was a corporation that existed solely to help us trade files, it MUST be legal!

    • Allow me to be the first: Copyright violation and theft are two totally different acts. Copyright violation is not theft; the party that has supposedly been stolen from, at the end of the day, still has all of their physical property, and not only that, but this property is in the same exact condition as before the act. You can't even claim lost sales; if I torrent something, there is no guarantee I would pay for it, even if it were merely a penny.

      I would never pay to watch a TV show that has been broadcast

      • if I torrent something, there is no guarantee I would pay for it, even if it were merely a penny.

        Not only that, but 'loss' of 'potential' future gain is not theft, because you never had that 'gain' in the first place! Also, if 'loss' of potential future gain somehow equated to harm, everyone would be guilty of harming everyone else, as merely choosing not to give someone your money would be considered 'harm' since they lost the potential for future gain because of you.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      She knew exactly what she was doing. That would be like me shoplifting from a store that did not have a Shoplifters will be prosecuted sign" and claiming that I did not know I could not shoplift.

      Actually, for a lot of kids these days (probably including her), it's more like taking some seed grain from a local farmer's field, knowing that people take seed grain from his field regularly and have for as long as they've been alive/aware, then sowing the seed all over the place. Then the farmer is angry when no one buys his crop. The kids are perplexed when they find out that the farmer has a sign at his produce stand which says "No tresspassing, no stealing of seed grain" Sure, they can understand i

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      These crazy defenses arise because the penalties are so absurd. You can't make a 16-year-old pay $27k in damages for downloading a CD. That's not sane. I think they should try the cruel-and-unusual punishment defense.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      She knew exactly what she was doing.

      Prove it. Or, at the very least, allow her the chance to make her defense that she didn't know.

      If you show grandma how to download Elvis songs, it is possible she could have no idea, but those cases are so far and few between, that I would put them in to 1% of all pirates in a study I made up myself to help out my argument.

      Shouldn't that 1% get the chance to mount an appropriate defense?

    • Look. I pirate and many others on /. do as well. Everybody knows it is illegal and there is a chance of getting caught. I am just glad I am not the one getting caught, and I would be in trouble for much more than 37 songs.

      Why in the world would you bother? Do you think the potential penalties (no matter how absurd) are really worth it? Can't you just pay the damn $10 a shot? Or are you doing it on some sort of half-assed "principle"?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just googling around, the penalty for shoplifting less than $50 worth of goods in California appears to be a mere "infraction" and $250 fine.

    Please note, this post is not to be construed as legal advice (IANAL) nor incitement to commit any criminal act.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      My guess is that the chance that someone with even half a brain would get caught in any shoplifting instance is well below 5%.

      Remember that shoplifters choose when and where to shoplift, so their chance of success is under their control.

      ..and for you file sharers out there.. you have the same sort of control. You can choose when and where to do it.

      I think that most American nerds have stopped getting their music from P2P sites .. opting instead to rip music directly from otherwise legal high bitrate m
    • Please note, this post is not to be construed as legal advice (IANAL) nor incitement to commit any criminal act.

      ..nor relevant to any aspects of the case.

  • I understand that punitive damages are assigned to try to curb further abuse. Historically this has been limited to treble damages, though. Why $200 per infringement considered sane, let alone $750? Or does their argument rest on the "making available" principle?

    IAObviouslyNAL

    • There is no logic, not really, other than screaming "Theft!" to gullible and technologically illiterate judges and juries. They also cannot differentiate between theft and copyright violation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by suutar (1860506)
      There's a special rule for copyright infringement (originally targeted, I believe, at for-profit bootlegging operations) that says "if the rights-holder wants, we can skip all that establishment of real damages and just say $250 per item", and then triple that if it's willful. The idea (if I'm right) was to keep the plaintiff from having to blow crap-loads of money on researching how many folks had bought the bootlegs, and to yield a substantial total to establish a deterring effect. Unintended Consequences
  • I just looked up the cost of CDs on amazon and most were between 5 and 10 USD so the music industry is claiming that she cost them the sale of any where between 2275 to 5550 CDs by sharing those 27 songs for well it doesn't say how long, but seeing as how she was a minor at the time I don't see how a company can justify ruining someone life, at such an early age over 27 songs. Then again that is the problem with corporations, they have more rights than the individual with no moral or ethical qualms other th
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      I just looked up the cost of CDs on amazon and most were between 5 and 10 USD so the music industry is claiming that she cost them the sale of any where between 2275 to 5550 CDs by sharing those 27 songs for well it doesn't say how long, but seeing as how she was a minor at the time I don't see how a company can justify ruining someone life, at such an early age over 27 songs. Then again that is the problem with corporations, they have more rights than the individual with no moral or ethical qualms other than serving the bottom line.

      I'm sorry, but $27,750 isn't life ruining, even to someone making only $12/hour. A big problem, and a long term debt perhaps. But if she gets a good job, she can pay off that debt in four years or less, easily.

      • by smaddox (928261)

        Unless she wants to go to college...

      • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

        You do realize courts don't generally allow you to pay in installments, right? So this is a lump sum of $28k, which is likely more than she could make in a year most likely. Oh and $12/hour is funny... Where I live a good job is $12/hour... My mom for instance makes $7.75/hour and even a decade ago as a store manager was making all of $8/hour and denied overtime. So that's basically more than my mom's yearly income a decade ago or even worse now since she's not full time.

        This is damning to any one on a low

  • All we need now is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:02PM (#34396702) Homepage Journal
    wikileaks exposing this pieces of crap as they are. a few 'trade secret' communications in between execs and their henchmen should wake the whole public up to the shit these are pulling.
  • This is why all along i have said that the Supreme Court is the most powerful part of our federal government. They can allow clearly unconstitutional laws to stand on a whim and never even get their hands dirty. And we as people have ZERO recourse, except violent revolution. ( peaceful revolution at the ballet box wont work since the judges are appointed for life )

    This is one of the 2 the major flaws that our founders left us with. ( The other was support for amending the Constitution beyond the first 10 am

  • "innocence" was no defense

    If even innocence isn't a defense, then what the hell chance does anyone have? I can just sue you for some random thing, and the fact that you're completely innocent doesn't help you!

  • some teenager shares something somewhere, and she cant have 'innocent infringement' defense.

    now, tell me what would happen, if wikileaks published transcripts or audio of a conversation in between riaa and judge/jury ?
  • Borrow CDs from the library or your friends, rip them yourself, and just watch the RIAA try to catch you! I have a friend who owns thousands of CDs and is perfectly happy to make me a copy of any one I want... what are his chances of getting caught? Zero... I sure as hell am not going to turn him in!
    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      what are his chances of getting caught? Zero... I sure as hell am not going to turn him in!

      Um. . . that's what you just did. Subpoena Geeknet for your ISP, your ISP for you, and you for him. Easy trail to follow.

  • The question here isn't whether she's liable. It's for how much.

    Alito's dissent [supremecourt.gov] (starting on page 26) is interesting, and gets into just how thorny a problem it is to prove an "innocent infringer" defense under 17 U.S.C. 504. [copyright.gov] (And again, an "innocent infringer" isn't off the hook--it just reduces the minimum statutory damages that may be awarded to the rights-holder.) Basically, the girl argued that she was too young, too technically unsophisticated--not a willful infringer for the purposes of awarding d
  • Justice Alito stated, "This provision was adopted in 1988, well before digital music files became available on the Internet"

    I guess Alito is yet another one of the people who thinks that "the Internet" is only the web (and things that came after the web). While it wasn't songs, I sure remember getting small audio clips from movies ("I'm trying to think but nothin' happens" - Curly from the Three Stooges) from BBSes well before that -- and I don't doubt some used the Internet as their transport medium. Pr

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

Working...