When Suing For Copyright Infringement On A $500 License, Don't Ask For $766 Million

from the just-a-suggestion dept

Eric Goldman has a short blurb describing the outcome in a copyright lawsuit where a title company apparently infringed on the copyright of another company by reusing its web-based "rate calculator" on its own site without a license. Where the case got bizarre was that the copyright holder tried to claim that the title company now owed it every single cent it made, which amounted to $766 million in revenue -- even though (1) a license for the calculator would run $500 for the year and (2) it's difficult to see how all of the company's revenue could have been because of that single rate calculator. Luckily, the judge practically laughed them out of court, calling the request "preposterous." Instead, the court awarded a mere $1,500, or the equivalent of a three year license. As Goldman notes:
[This is] an amount that the defendant surely would have happily paid to settle before going to court if the plaintiff would have accepted it. Instead, this is great example of a dispute that had no chance of settling because the plaintiff’s demands were so out of this universe.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    wasnt me!, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:36pm

    im sure others will try

    wait till RIAA hears about this, ppl will start wishing for 10k USD fines RIAA is or was asking for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:32am

    At a guess, they were probably hoping that the company they sued would settle for a percentage instead of taking it to court. Fortunately, it looks like they had good lawyers who recognised that the requested amount was ludicrous even in the case of a guilty verdict.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Joe Roper, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 2:05am

    The judge should have penalized the plaintiff's lawyer for giving bad advise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Greg, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 5:07am

    How do you that the plaintiff's lawyer gave bad advice? What if the plaintiff directed the lawyer to sue for that amount?

    Insert the word "know" up there.

    And the plaintiff's lawyer could have told said plaintiff that 766 million was extreme to say the least. There was a better chance of getting 100k instead of trying to destroy the title company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 5:21am

    Yay

    I am proud of this judge.
    Nice work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Dan, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    Good for the judge.

    He made an excellent decision. Although honestly, if the plaintiff had asked for a sub 100k amount, it probably would have gone to court and been ruled in his favor. There's no denying that there was copyright infringement here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Double Down, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:00am

    $1500 was too much. The judge should have awarded $1, but I guess he may have been worried about an appeal....which will happen anyway, but at least the decision will stand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Thomas, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:34am

    Net profit?

    So the company gets $1500, but what about legal fees? If the plaintiff doesn't get legal fees, the legal fees would probably eat up more than the $1500 he was awarded.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Travis, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

      Re: Net profit?

      Serves them right. They don't deserve to have their legal fees when they try to make a mockery of our copyright and legal systems. If they would have tried to settle for a reasonable amount then they could have avoided the legal fees altogether.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    The Rabid Accountant, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:13am

    What is the "business of music" really worth?

    When reading of the Sony/Bertlesmann (BMG) merger earlier, it put it into perspective the fully loaded value of a record company with it's assets. To purchase the remaining 50% of Bertelsmann, $900M (Some reports show 1.2B) isn't that much.

    Come to find out many small tech companies have larger market cap than these record guys. Ingram Micro has a market cap of $3.32B. Palm is currently around $700M in market cap. You could buy Bertlesmann 75 times over with Google's Market cap.

    It'd be an interesting project to find out how many songs exist in the Sony/BMG catalog to calculate an average real value for a song.

    Why do this? Well, I would like to make unsolicited offers to buy masters along with applicable rights. I bet they cost less than some of these legal damages.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Judge Dread, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:16pm

    Realistic copyright damages

    So, basicallly... they actually USED a copyright work and the damages are 3 x the yearly value.

    And... the price for sharing a single $0.99 song... $150,000.

    Yes... they are definately unconstitutional!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This