Obama Administration: $1.5 Million For Sharing 24 Songs Is Perfectly Reasonable

from the out-of-touch dept

In the latest round of the fight over how much Jammie Thomas-Rasset should pay for sharing 24 songs online, we have the federal government weighing in to say that $1.5 million for those 24 songs is perfectly reasonable and Constitutional. Must help that the White House Solicitor General was previously a litigator for the RIAA in the case, huh (though, he did not write the filing)?

If you don't recall, there are statutory rates for copyright infringement, which are ridiculously high, and it seems reasonable to question if those awards, which seem totally disproportionate to any "damages," could be seen as excessive under the Constitution.

The district court judge, Michael Davis, clearly felt so. Ditto Judge Nancy Gertner in the Joel Tenenbaum case. However, the government apparently is going to argue that the statutory rate is the statutory rate and we must respect that. The argument is basically the same behind the implementation for statutory rates in the first place. To paraphrase: "man, it's freaking hard to have to show actual damages (since there might not be any) and thus we shouldn't have to do that -- but should just be able to use these crazy high numbers." This argument seems silly frankly. It's basically saying that even if you could look at damages, you should never have to. That's a big part of the problem. It leads to cases like this where people are heavily pressured to settle just to avoid the risk of crazy high statutory damages.

But where the government's argument goes off the rails, is the idea that when it comes to statutory damages, there's never a due process question over whether the rates are excessive. That makes no sense, but it's the argument being made:
Contrary to defendant’s contentions, the Due Process Clause does not require that the statutory damage award be proportional to the actual harm defendant has caused the plaintiff. Defendant attempts to derive this rule from BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996). But as the district court held, Williams, not Gore, establishes the applicable framework for determining whether an award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act comports with due process.

Gore is inapposite. It imposes limitations on a jury’s authority to award punitive damages in circumstances where the legislature has not constrained the jury’s discretion. It thus requires that the jury award not be grossly disproportionate to the plaintiff’s injury or defendant’s misconduct. Absent such limitations, the Gore Court reasoned, defendants could not have fair, constitutionally sufficient notice of the magnitude of potential sanctions.

The Gore framework, however, does not apply to a statutory regime in which Congress has specified in advance the range of appropriate damages. In that circumstance, the statute itself supplies the constitutionally required notice deemed missing in Gore. Moreover, unlike jury awards of punitive damages, an award of statutory damages is based on legislative judgments that must be accorded deference by the reviewing court. Williams, not Gore, sets forth the appropriate standards for conducting such review.
To summarize this argument, it's that Congress can do whatever the hell it wants in setting statutory rates, and no one can ever question if those rates are "excessive." Effectively, it's saying that Congress doesn't have to obey the Constitution. That makes no sense. And yes, it relies on this Supreme Court ruling from 1919, which is a pretty narrow ruling, concerning conditions under which you could measure such regulatory fines against the due process clause. However, this argument really tries to make that case do a hell of a lot more than it was designed to do -- while also trying to pretend that a whole series of other cases involving excessive fines as they relate to due process don't matter.

Either way, the end result is that the administration is effectively saying that a $1.5 million award for sharing 24 songs isn't just perfectly legal and reasonable, but that it's what Congress intended. All it really does is reiterate just how out of touch the White House is to reality.


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  1.  
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    Jeff (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:13am

    Not surprising...

    Reality crumple-zones are in effect

     

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    Anonymous Howard, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:21am

    Look, I know the government's all for corporate bailouts, but this is ridiculous.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:21am

    LOL. This is delusional. Can't wait to see all the millions of people getting sued for millions of dollars majority of Americans and people around the world don't have. They forget that well over 80% of the world doesn't make that kind of income, only they do.

     

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  4.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:22am

    Re: Not surprising...

    There's obviously a tentacular hivemind in effect. That's the only logical explanation for why the US Government hasn't been nuked by Paradox.

     

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  5.  
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    Jeff (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    I agree with your sentiments - I disagree with your stats. I think you've given the world a pay-raise. It is my belief that of the 7B people on this planet, the vast majority cannot afford to even pay the .99c to download a song from iTunes.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:26am

    The constitution card is being played way too often (and often to argue both sides of a case). But putting that aside for a bit, how can anyone not see that damages like these are beyond bat-shit insane?

    I really wonder if there were some people sitting around being bored at some point, and one said "You know what? Let's see if we can go and kill culture!".

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:28am

    Are You Playing Stupid, Naive, or Just Dumb?

    we have the federal government weighing in to say that $1.5 million for those 24 songs is perfectly reasonable and Constitutional

    What the hell else did you expect from the fascist so-called government of the United Corporate Police States of America?

     

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  8.  
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    Cory of PC (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:31am

    OK, so from what I got out of this, this is saying that Congress doesn't have to obey the Constitution, which they swore upon to uphold and protect, all so that they could get paid by suing the crap out of us over stupid things? I know this has been mentioned multiple times on different posts, but seriously: why HASN'T anyone sued the government for doing this sort of thing!? If what they proclaiming is true, then shouldn't this count as treason as they are going against what they were sworn to protect by saying they can do whatever they want because they have the power (and the money)!

    My head's going to be hurting all day from the amounts of smacks its going to receive...

     

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  9.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:32am

    CopyLeft Trap

    If we modified the copyleft articles(?) to say something like "Agents, hirelings, and minions of the RIAA may not use the free and open-source music under penalty of standard copyright fees". They could then be sued for million$ if anybody in their organization downloads/hears those songs.

    Tit for tat, as it were.

     

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    Jason, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Well then

    If this is the case, then I think that many of the cities around the country that have financial problems should pass laws for littering with "statutory" fines of .... one ... miiiiilllllllion ... dollars.

    That should work. I mean since statutory rates can't be argued against, right?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Wonder what price they'd put on our private information?
    Its gotta be more then one single mp3, right? Right?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:34am

    "[Entertainment Industry Corporations funding the campaign for another four years of the] Obama Administration: $1.5 Million For Sharing 24 Songs Is Perfectly Reasonable"

    FTFY

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    Land of the free, where pirates pirate mp3's, and governments pirate personal data

    Seems a bit one sided, NO?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    "To summarize this argument, it's that Congress can do whatever the hell it wants in setting statutory rates, and no one can ever question if those rates are "excessive.""

    That is a not at all what they are saying. It's pretty dishonest to even go there.

    What they are saying is that the law is specific, and the risks involved are clearly defined. Because congress has set minimum and maximum levels in the law itself, everyone is aware that (a) it is infringement, and (b) these are the amounts you risk facing.

    They can still argue that the amounts of excessive, but they will have to do that on merit alone, and not using some standard that does not apply here - specifically because congress set the rates. Basically, they have to argue that the amounts are injust on their face, not injust compared to the "actual harm" as established in Gore.

    The congress is within it's rights to establish these rates as part of the law, because they are published WITH the law. Everyone knows the risk.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:42am

    "Obama Administration: $1.5 Million For Sharing 24 Songs Is Perfectly Reasonable"

    Not that I'm agreeing with the copyright middlemen, but they're not actually arguing that paying $1.5 million is reasonable, perfectly or otherwise.

    They're arguing that it's perfectly legal because a due process analysis is not applicable. Being reasonable and legal are not always the same thing.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:45am

    Re:

    Which explains why hundreds of millions of people risk it all every single day.

     

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  17.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:45am

    Re: Their child was called "no legal reason"

    I assure you, "reasonable" and "legal" are different enough nobody could mistake one for the other even if they were dead-drunk and met either in a darkened alley.

     

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  18.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    Re:

    Hey, since we're talking about dishonesty, can you speak at all to the fact that these laws were originally written with the intent to punish corporate copyright infringement and never intended to be used against individual citizens?

    Everyone knows that this was the original intent.

     

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  19.  
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    Wally, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:50am

    Voting

    Someone needs to start the Pirate Party here in the US

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:52am

    Re: Voting

     

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  21.  
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    Noah Callaway (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    Would you then agree that it's fair to say:

    "To summarize this argument, it's that Congress can do whatever the hell it wants in setting statutory rates, and no one can ever question if those rates are 'excessive' until they get sued for $1.5M dollars for sharing 24 songs"?

    You seem to agree with the first half of the quote ("Congress can do whatever the hell it wants in setting statutory rates"), and your quibble is with the second half ("and no one can ever question if those rates are 'excessive'") since you can argue that the rates are excessive.

     

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    RD, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re:

    "Hey, since we're talking about dishonesty, can you speak at all to the fact that these laws were originally written with the intent to punish corporate copyright infringement and never intended to be used against individual citizens?

    Everyone knows that this was the original intent."


    This, times one million. Unless you can address this question in a way that justifies these rulings, you have no argument and can stick your "rah rah copyright rules all" cheerleading up your copyrighted hole.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:03am

    Re: CopyLeft Trap

    That would be stooping to their level, and you'd be no better than them.

    I'm starting to wonder if we can't just sue the RIAA for having caused untold amounts of cultural and financial damage, for fraud, for collusion, and for undermining the democratic process.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:04am

    more than that, it goes to show exactly where the White House has it's priorities and they sure as hell ain't with the people, the very ones that gave them the job of governing!! 'of the people, by the people, for the people' seems to have very little meaning now

     

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  25.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Have your cake and eat it too

    The RIAA/MPAA want to enforce statutory damages, which is fine so long as they admit that infringement is NOT theft. They don't want to do that because it would shine a light on how silly their rationale is.

    If someone stole 24 CDs from a store which could then be shared digitally, there isn't a court in the nation that would fine the thief $1.5 million dollars.

    Why does the internet make courts so stupid? At least one judge tried to grasp reality.

     

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  26.  
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    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:07am

    Open letter to the signers

    To: Stuart Delery, B. Todd Jones, Scott McIntosh and Jeffrey Clair

    Dear Sirs,

    I read your brief advocating reinstating insane fines against Jammie Thomas-Russet for sharing a handful of songs. I want to share an idea that you may have overlooked: you can contribute greatly to the society submitting yourself to medical experiments. If scientists figure out how to pump blood through a body without a heart (which you apparently lack), it will help millions and millions people with heart problems.

    Thank you,

    SJD

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:10am

    Re: CopyLeft Trap

    They'll pirate (steal, to use their own words) it anyways. These parasite middlemen have no moral standards, it's not like they are going to obey the law.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: CopyLeft Trap

    IP extremists have no moral standards *

     

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  29.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Re:

    You forgot that corporations are now people too.

     

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  30.  
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    Keii (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:21am

    The government has no sense of value of money. These are the same people who brought you the 10 million dollar hammer or the billion dollar toilet seat.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:26am

    No wonder there's a depression

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:40am

    radio recording!

    so how much should radio stations pay since people record music off of them? that is after all the oldest file sharing!!!!! I have ten or twelve tapes from back in the day that are all songs recorded from the radio! wait, forget that, they might hit me for millions of dollars also!

     

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  33.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re:

    Around 1B people live on less than US$1/day.

     

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  34.  
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    Simple Mind (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:49am

    Re: Are You Playing Stupid, Naive, or Just Dumb?

    There hasn't been any change. And I no longer have any hope.

     

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  35.  
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    Simple Mind (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:54am

    Re:

    I'm not gonna sue the government. You sue the government.

    I'm not gonna sue them, you do it.

    I know, lets get Mikey, he'll sue anyone.

    Hey, Mikey!

     

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  36.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Excessive fines argument

    Seems to me like even if the huge statutory damages are consistent with the Due Process of the Vth amendment b/c the statute itself gives "notice" (and was enacted by the Congress by standard "procedures"), you could still argue (a) the awards are excessive in view of the Eighth Amendment, and also (b) violate the first Amendment's freedom of speech/press restrictions. I argue both in http://c4sif.org/2011/11/copyright-is-unconstitutional/

     

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  37.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:57am

    it's not enough

    They should double her fines.

    It's not like she can pay it either way, and the bigger the number, the bigger the headlines it will get, and the sooner more people will realize what a joke of a law it is. And they should always publish the list of songs too so we can see what kind of crap this woman's life was ruined for.

    Nothing will change until enough people get seriously angry.

     

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  38.  
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    bordy (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:01am

    Re:

    [T]hey're not actually arguing that paying $1.5 million is reasonable, perfectly or otherwise. . . . They're arguing that it's perfectly legal because a due process analysis is not applicable.

    An argument like the Administration has made here doesn't even serve the labels' best interests, and is obviously a kick in the balls for the defendant. The labels' lawyers win though -- more billables.

    This type of litigation hasn't had the deterrent effect that labels hoped it would, so what's the effing point of arguing that this nonsense damage award should remain intact -- a $1.5 million judgment against your average file-sharer will never be satisfied. One message these awards does convey, however, is probably not what the RIAA had in mind, i.e., that the labels are frivolously out-of-touch vindictive twats.

     

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  39.  
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    iambinarymind (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:10am

    What do you expect...?

    What do you expect from people who claim to own you?

    Until we stop allowing the people calling themselves "government" to steal from us (taxation - which claims that they own a percentage of the combination of our time & labor, therefore owning us, AKA serfdom) they will continue to believe they own us.

    True freedom comes from owning one's self (self-ownership) and all that extends from said axiom.

    Want freedom? Then start acting like a free man/woman!

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re:

    As you said, the entire thing is a waste of time in terms of actually seeing the award. Odds are Thomas will make a little over $2 million in her lifetime (~$50k average American annual income x ~40 yrs working), and will never have anywhere near that much to actually give to the RIAA.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re: it's not enough

    Don't get angry, get even.

    For every Jamie Thomas Russet and Joe Tanenbaum we should crate a new pirate bay.

     

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  42.  
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    6, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:19am

    "To summarize this argument, it's that Congress can do whatever the hell it wants in setting statutory rates, and no one can ever question if those rates are "excessive." Effectively, it's saying that Congress doesn't have to obey the Constitution."


    Not really, they're simply telling you that in the cases you are relying on there never was simply a question of "excessiveness" by itself. It was "excessiveness WHEN you have not been put on SUFFICIENT NOTICE that a jury might award ridiculously high PUNITIVE damages" because you were not put on notice. However, they note that the statute provides the notice in this case.

    And furthermore, they go on to, as you suggest, note that congress has the authority to do whatever it pleases in terms of statutory rates. That is, the due process clause is not triggered by them deciding x amount of dollars is the fine.

    Indeed, this is the root of your issue that you take with these kinds of cases Mike, you believe congress is less powerful than it is. Or you belive they should be less powerful than it is. It really is about you resenting the power of the congress.

     

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  43.  
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    bordy (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    [T]he Due Process Clause does not require that the statutory damage award be proportional to the actual harm defendant has caused the plaintiff.

    This is a brand of federal claptrap that, while not really surprising anymore, makes your average American citizen justifiably nonplussed about those running our government. By this Administration's standards, if Congress passed a law allowing for $100 trillion in damages against a defendant for spitting on a property owner's lawn, Due Process is not implicated.

    Symbolically, it shows that those in key government positions don't have our back. Individual interests take the backseat -- nay, trunk -- to corporate interests.

     

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  44.  
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    hfbs (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Re: Well then

    *Dr Evil little finger lift*

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    a) Nobody understands copyrights not even the people supposed to be experts on it, if you get 10 judges they all will view the infringement differently and come up with many ways to justify or not. So you are full of shit.

    b) Correct, the question is if congress has that power or not, statutory damages are supposed to be a deterrent not to put anybody in eternal debt, making it in matter of fact anybody from the public a indenture serf.

    Congress is batshit crazy if it things anybody agrees with that, more so because I don't think people understand the "risks" either, lets go ask in the streets what people think that drawing Disney cartoons in kindergarten without paying for it should be a crime punishable by those kind of statutory penalties, because you know technically anybody who ever printed, draw, photographed, displayed to anybody else a depiction of a copyrighted work is in fact infringing on the rights given to copyright holders, people just didn't grasp how powerful that right is and they don't know the depth of it, so you are full of shit.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    To add to your comment, Gore and Williams are directed to two fundamentally different situations. In Gore a jury was instructed that it could impose whatever amount it deemed appropriate without any limitation whatsoever. Statutory damages, as addressed in Williams, do not suffer from this infirmity. Boundaries are established that place limits on what a jury may award.

    The problem here that troubles many is that they have a visceral and negative reaction to the statutory damages provision of Title 17. Of course, the proper course of action under our system of laws is to petition Congress to amend the statutory damages provision. Interestingly, statutory damages have been a mainstay of US copyright law ever since the enactment of the Copyright Act of 1790.

    In anticipation that some may believe I am an ardent supporter of the T and JRT awards, my response is that I express no opinion on the amounts. Mine is solely to try and articulate what the law is and why.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re:

    a) People understand copyright fine. They know it's against the law to "share" files online, but they do it anyway. This isn't a grey area "might be copyright infringement", this is people sharing material that is clearly copyright.

    b) Wrong. The amounts set (which vary from a very low number to higher limit number) are there in the law. Anyone who wants to can know the risks involved in their activities. There is no reason to be an indentured serf, unless you are stupid enough to break the law, knowing the risks. That makes you an idiot, not a serf.

    You don't like the law, change the law - but any argument that says statutory minimums (and maximums) are somehow illegal are missing the boat. It's not an appeal that will go very far.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:42am

    Americans had a chance to stop this , it has been obvious to the rest of the world for years that you lost your freedom and your constitution a long time ago, this is just a little taste of the future, of how anyone who crosses big business will be treated. At least in Europe people will take up arms and revolt when it becomes just a little more obvious what is happening.And at least in China they know they are, or have a corrupt regime, Americans seriously think they are better off than China at the moment which is really sad.

     

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  49.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "a) People understand copyright fine. They know it's against the law to "share" files online, but they do it anyway. This isn't a grey area "might be copyright infringement", this is people sharing material that is clearly copyright."

    Tell to that to a ten year old kid who's literally grown up with the internet and free file sharing. To him/her, sharing mp3 files through P2P or through cyberlockers is as natural as loaning CDs/cassette tapes was for us in the 80's/90's. To them, the notion of copyright is a completely alien notion.
    And no, there ARE grey areas? Heard of fair use? Plus, you can't just call people guilty of infringement WITHOUT A TRIAL...which sadly is happening less and less lately.

     

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  50.  
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    AC Cobra, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    I want a different candidate

    Staunch Democrat here, and yes I will be voting for Obama this fall, but regretfully. GOP, pay attention, this is your chance. Field a candidate who's a little more palatable and I'll switch. I'm sick to death of this administrations shit.

     

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  51.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:17am

    Re: I want a different candidate

    so you would vote for someone you KNOW to be corrupt that you say you are "sick of"?

    thats not waiting for someone more palatable from the other side, thats waiting until the offerings from your side are so repulsive you have no other choice to make than to switch sides.

    and that is exactly why we have the mess we have today....

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:21am

    In North Korea they share against dictatorship.

     

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  53.  
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    bordy (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    When an individual infringer is dinged with a judgment this, complete satisfaction of the award is practically impossible -- but somehow wholly reasonable according to the Executive branch and the RIAA. How can a position that will surely spawn more wasteful litigation be of any use here? Why do the labels want to keep shelling out legal fees in a fruitless endeavor to collect obscene, disproportionate, and unobtainable damage awards? To say "well, it's the law" doesn't seem to advance their interests. Insisting upon their current course is just hurting their ability to collect.

    It just seems like this battle must not really be about the money. Whatever this has to do with, they are foolish to think a courtroom is their best forum for vindication.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:26am

    Someone should really ask the people making these sorts of decision if they've ever shared a newspaper with a stranger in the local coffee shop.

    If they have we'd better slap them with a $150 000 / offense damages fee. Those poor newspapers are going out of business and it's all these old pirates fault. If they'd just pay for a paper rather than sharing it with some random stranger that just happened to be sitting at the table next to them they'd still be in business!

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:28am

    For perspective...

    "A person commits 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle when he or she (1) operates a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor, drugs, or both and (2) causes the death of another person due to the effect of the liquor or drugs. This crime is a class C felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, or both. The court must also suspend the person's driver's license for one year and prohibit the person from driving any motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device for the following two years."

    So that's from Connecticut as of Oct, 2010... and obviously sharing 24 songs MUST be quite more severe than killing someone unintentionally... since it has a $1.5 million fine.

    Just saying...

     

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  56.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:33am

    Re: Are You Playing Stupid, Naive, or Just Dumb?

    You seem to have some wires crossed there. Fascism is easy to spot by pretty much all power being concentrated in one individual. I really fail to see that here.

    Also, there never has been and never will be any form of government that isn't at least largely bought and paid for, except where power is concentrated in one individual. The more people who hold power, the more likely you are to have corruption and the odds are pretty high with just one person.

    Further, it's not corporations that own the politicians. The *AA, Big Oil, Big Pharma, and most every other lobby group with any significant power aren't corporations; they're cartels. Not that the politicians care. Even an individual with enough money can buy one.

    Last bit, your calling the US a police state is either poorly chosen hyperbole or you've no idea what an actual police state is like.

    While I pretty well agree with the sentiment behind the statement, pretty much every descriptive word choice you made was entirely wrong. Please use more of your own brain and less anti-establishment rhetoric if you're going to argue a point I agree with.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    RD, this is pretty easy to answer:

    The law doesn't specifically say "corporate only". They laws are general in nature as they apply to both individuals and companies. Where the laws apply specifically to companies, it is so indicated. There is no such indication here.

    Inventing or trying to apply "intent" of the lawmakers to a written law is a legal dead end. You work with the laws as written.

    Can you show me where specifically in the laws regarding these statutory minimums that it says "this applies to companies only"?

    Rah rah rah, answer that and you are a magician!

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Clearly, if the 10 year old kid wasn't brought up to know right from wrong, that would be a parental issue. Plus honestly, his parents shouldn't be letting a 10 year old wander the internet alone anyway.

    Hopefully the taught him about murder, otherwise this kid is going to be real fun at school.

    As for your "grey areas", let's be clear here: I cannot imagine a fair use claim on file sharing with a million strangers on P2P. Can you honestly claim that?

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    arcan, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    They say the gore case can not apply to cases that have a set statutory rate. but then again they also said you can not issue a batson challenge on a civil case. and guess what. you can now because it was obvious it should still apply.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:46am

    Re: For perspective...

    "So that's from Connecticut as of Oct, 2010... and obviously sharing 24 songs MUST be quite more severe than killing someone unintentionally... since it has a $1.5 million fine."

    Just saying... 10 years in jail is way more than $150,000 would be. The statute provides for damages of $750 to $30,000 per work infringed (and upon proof of willfulness, up to $150,000).

    Mike is taking the "maximum number" and trying to play from there. It is clear that the Obama Administration has no problem with $7500 as the penalty for sharing 10 songs as well.

    Don't be fooled by Mike's bullshit.

     

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  61.  
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    bordy (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: I want a different candidate

    I was having a tongue-in-cheek conversation with a buddy along these lines the other day...

    In the battle that pits Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich, when the most conspicuous difference between the two are their competing brands of dumbfuckery, I suppose I prefer the challenger. I'm fully confident that he can be just as awful, but it'd be nice to have a new guy's decisions to ridicule.

     

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  62.  
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    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I would also strongly disagree with both of your points...

    a) There are plenty of people who do not understand copyright and who would never believe something as natural as sharing music with your friends could possibly be illegal and punishable by fines in the millions of dollars. There is nothing intuitive about knowing that, and it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the practice is not only acceptable but should also be encouraged. The concept that sharing is wrong is something that was to be taught, and it has to be taught against the principles that most everyone was raised on.

    b) While the numbers are "there in the law", you know as well as I know that non-commercial filesharing done by an individual for personal use was never intended to be punished by anything even resembling the level of damages awarded against her. If any damages should have been awarded in this case, it should have been the statutory minimum of 750.00 per instance of infringement. $18000.00 in penalties for downloading less than $24.00 of music is still excessive, but from your standpoint of "there in the law" it would have to be acceptable.

    I would still be interested in hearing your response to the issue of intent of the damages and how they would be awarded against commercial entities versus private individuals that was raised earlier...

     

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  63.  
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    MahaliaShere (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Re: For perspective...

    "and obviously sharing 24 songs MUST be quite more severe than killing someone unintentionally... since it has a $1.5 million fine."

    Yeah, because I'm sure they feel physically violated everytime someone shares. Sickening.

     

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  64.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Re: I want a different candidate

    I never understood why people believe that voting one evil over another success to any degree...

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:57am

    Lies and other Clemens quotables.

    It's a lot easier when you don't have to pay New York or San Fransisco real estate prices.

     

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  66.  
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    gorehound (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Not surprising...

    I am not surprised over this one bit.Washington is the Cancer and We The People will be the cure.
    Just for shits and giggles I went on my facebook and posted tons of the Words NSA will use to search our Internet Usage.
    I am so sick of the Government and their Constitution Breaking Corrupted Ways.
    MAFIAA you would screw yourself if it were humanely possible.

     

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  67.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: I want a different candidate

    Will have significant success over changing the voting system.

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re: For perspective...

    For that matter, I find it offensive that punching someone upside the head in a bar might get you a $50 fine, but the parking ticket for being stopped in front of the same bar might be $75 or even $100... more if you are too close to a fire hydrant or the corner.

    Damn laws. There is absolutely no sense in them!

     

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  69.  
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    Brent (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:07pm

    I'm sure Obama just wishes everyone would shut up about this kind of stuff for a while, specifically until after November. Its not that he doesn't realize the damages are not reasonable or that asking a kid to pay $1.5 million will just mean he declares bankruptcy and the gov't will foot the bill anyways, the reality is that he can't agree with logic, reason, or the public on this one b/c he is OWNED by the MPAA/RIAA. They have actually tried to sue him for using the presidential seal on his letterhead without their expressed written consent (not really). Somehow, if he were to side with reason/public, he would absolutely lose the election. It wouldn't matter if every single person in the country voted for him, it would still go to his opponent (who supports the rule of the MPAA/RIAA). I have absolute confidence in that prediction (b/c he will never risk losing support from those organizations so the prediction won't be necessary).

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    JP, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Way Out

    Want a way out - force the jury to have their on-line records looked into. What % of people haven't shared something?

     

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  71.  
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    drew (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually I can imagine plenty but they'd have no relevance to this case so I won't try to argue that.
    Cast your mind back to your youth though, is the difference between making a copy of tape for your friend any different to sharing a file, other than the number of copies made?

     

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  72.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, AC, good job! You just pointed out precisely why we don't need any more IP Protection laws: they are extremely poorly written! Now one could note that at the time only big businesses had the technology to mass reproduce, and the lawmakers did not have the foresight to see the huge technological changes coming: CD/DVD burners in every PC, Napster, Youtube.

    Can you really, honestly say that they set the statutory rates with college kids in mind? Hint: if you say yes, you're a damn liar.

     

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  73.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:51pm

    Hang on...

    There's another way to think of this: the RIAA should be payign the same rates to radio stations! After all, they're sharing the music with people.

     

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  74.  
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    Alana (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 3:00pm

    How is this not stealing from the people? ...I'm sickened.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Howard, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, guys, it's cool. If corporations are people too, then the reverse is true.

     

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  76.  
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    Karl (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The law doesn't specifically say "corporate only". They laws are general in nature as they apply to both individuals and companies.

    The law doesn't specifically say "corporate only" because when the statutory damages were created, infringement itself was "corporate only." As a rule, individuals simply were not sued for copyright infringement.

    When that changed, the statutory damages were "grandfathered in," as it were.

    Also, the fact that the damages are "clearly defined" by statute had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it. The punitive damages were also "clearly defined" in BMW.

     

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  77.  
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    the law, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 3:31pm

    TUBE OF LUBE

    I wander how much YOUTUBE.COM owe then???

    youtube2mp3.com and you have any track you want thanks to the biggest file sharing site in the universe!!

    Obama what a fucking joke.... i knew from the start they used a black man as a smoke screen..... hello!! foreign hatred reversed over night YES WE CAN LMFAO!!

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Drew, making a copy to tape is very different from making a digital copy via P2P.

    The most important is that the P2P copy can itself be copied an endless number of times. We are passing perfect digital copies here, and a copy of a copy is EXACTLY as good as the original. If you have even gotten a copy of a copy of a tape, you know exactly how good it was - good enough to make you want to buy the record so you didn't have to listen to the hiss fest. The third generation was worthless.

    The "number of copies" issue is important too. A single person seeding a single song could be the source for a million perfect copies. The damage of a single person's actions are magnified so much under the current system. Basically, a single person can feed the world.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Not surprising...

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And there you have it... it's a COPY not the original. Nothing has been stolen. The original still exists.

    While it may be infringement the damage is minimal and therefore the amounts being awarded are 'insane' since they effectively punish the individual for life. The amount is more than they could earn in a lifetime. That in itself is the real crime when compared to the minimal impact the infringement has had.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So... what? Are you saying years ago, we should have said the same thing about casette tapes, VCRs and CDs? The RIAA complained about those, too. So if anyone was prosecuted then for using those it's to be blamed on bad parenting?

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    Re: What do you expect...?

    Actually, you define ownership too narrowly. If someone argues that they may compel your submission, then they assert a claim of ownership over your physical being. If I beat MY dog for dropping a plunkie in the house, then I claim to own it, even if I don't fine it for the crime.

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 7:14pm

    Re:

    The United States government's (any government, actually, but let's stay on topic) sole means of enacting "its" will is through violence. In many cases I don't have a problem with that (waving a gun at a store clerk and demanding money may result in violence against the thief oh well). Thus, all (not any, but all) laws must be read as being suffixed with "or we'll shoot you in the face."

    So, when people (not intellectual constructs, like government, but actual people) undertake government action that is deemed unconstitutional, it must be held as taking up arms against said constitution. Until unconstitutional acts are (properly) prosecuted as treason, and punished accordingly, the claim of the existence of a constitution, or the crime of treason, is a lie.

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 7:26pm

    Funding the Fight

    Alright, all you Obama supporters. It's election time again. Start shakin' those money makers on YouTube. Don't worry about the soundtrack.

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Karl,

    Just a couple of points.

    First, statutory damages have been a part of our copyright laws since at least as early as the enactment of the Copyright Act of 1790.

    Second, punitive damages are only rarely circumscribed by law. They tend to be open-ended and left to the discretion of the jury. Statutory damages, in contrast, are limited to a specific range.

     

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  86.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Re:

    For a second, I misread that as "78 people on the planet."

    I need sleep. 0_o

     

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  87.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:43pm

    Re: Re: For perspective...

    >It is clear that the Obama Administration has no problem with $7500 as the penalty for sharing 10 songs as well.

    Do you want to show where they've made this clear? Or do we have to take your word for it again?

     

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  88.  
    icon
    drew (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 1:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Making a copy might be different to you or I (who clearly remember the cassette days) but it's not different for a kid today as they have no such comparator.
    My point was simply that sharing always happened, the mechanism has changed, but me wanting to share some stuff with my mates hasn't changed, it's just got easier and better.
    As to "damage", unless you are suggesting that one shared file = one lost sale then the damage is impossible to articulate. If you're suggesting that the damage actually equals tens of thousands of dollars per shared file then the entertainment industries have surely been deprived of more money than has ever existed. Which is plainly nuts.

     

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  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 3:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    if corporations are people, shouldn't most of them be locked up for being sociopathic dangers to society?

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    dak, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 4:13am

    $1.5 million in damages this person has to pay.

    Or to put it another way, and assuming she earns $50k/year, she's been sentenced to 30 years of indentured servitude for her crimes.

    that's assuming she doesn't need to eat, wear clothing, have a roof over her head, etc.

     

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  91.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re:

    "Hey Mikey, you're so fine you blow my mind, Hey Mikey!"

     

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  92.  
    identicon
    Theactual, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re: Are You Playing Stupid, Naive, or Just Dumb?

    So you've missed the fact that Obomba can legally order to secretly assassinate any person on the Earth regardless of what country they're located in or indeed if it's US citizen?

    That qualifies as fascist in my book, textbook fascist in fact. If you do not like the fact the US has a fascist government I suggest you do something about it instead of just denying it ...

     

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  93.  
    icon
    chillienet (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re:

    Lol. I would help to support the techdirt legal fund if mikey and techdirt sued the us govt. That, in my opinion, would be an excelent way for techdirt to "connect with the fans!"

     

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

  94.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: it's not enough

    It's a problem that needs to be fixed. New Pirate Bays won't fix it. It has to become so obvious to everyone that the law is grossly overreaching that even Disney's money can't stop it.

     

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

  95.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:09am

    Re: What do you expect...?

    It's not that they own us, but that the corporations own them.

     

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  96.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:14am

    Re: Way Out

    I'm guessing the jury in these trials are all computer illiterate and wouldn't know how to download a song if they wanted to. They tend to weed out anyone that actually knows something that might make them sympathetic to the accused.

     

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  97.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:15am

    Re:

    And she doesn't make that much.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Way Out

    Cases such as this have nothing at all to do with the literacy of computers by members of the jury. The issues are solely directed to whether or not the named defendant infringed one or more of the rights accorded by copyright law.

     

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

  99.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Way Out

    But if someone admits they have downloaded a song in the past, they're probably not going to end up on the jury. Either they don't know how, don't care to know how, or think it's the wrong thing to do.

     

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

  100.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    First, statutory damages have been a part of our copyright laws since at least as early as the enactment of the Copyright Act of 1790.

    And in all that time, individuals who committed non-commercial infringement were not sued for infringement.

    Second, punitive damages are only rarely circumscribed by law.

    But in the BMW case, they were. It was in Alabama code 6-11-20, which specified the punitive damages that could be awarded for "gross, oppressive or malicious" fraud.

    It was rewritten in 1999 as a result of the ruling. The upper limit is currently "three times the compensatory damages of the party claiming punitive damages or five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000), whichever is greater." So even now, they're circumscribed by law.

     

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

  101.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    We seem to be talking past, and not to, each other.

    My point concerning statutory damages was merely to point out that they have been an integral part of federal law ever since the first copyright act was enacted.

    Since I do not know what you mean by "non-commercial" infringement, I am unable to comment on your assertion.

    Re the Gore case, and I readily admit I am not a student of the Alabama Code, the section you quote sets forth a legal test, but unlike federal statutory damages does not set lower and upper monetary limits. The amendment you recite does now circumscribe punitive damages within monetary limits, but unlike federal copyright law is tied in part to actual damages as determined during trial proceedings. IOW, pre-Gore they were not circumscribed, and post-Gore they are circumscribed. I hope this better explains my use of the term "circumscribed".

     

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


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