Former RIAA Lobbyist, Now Judge, Says Lowest Possible Statutory Damages For Single Case Of Infringement Is $3,430
from the punishment-does-not-fit-the-crime dept
Remember Judge Beryl Howell? She’s one of the only judges who’s received one of these copyright troll cases involving hundreds, if not thousands, of totally unrelated John Does in a single case to refuse to sever the unrelated defendants (and bizarrely tried to claim it was to their benefit to be sued together). It only later came out that Howell was very recently an official lobbyist for the RIAA. At the very least, that calls into question her objectivity on copyright cases.
Anyway, late last week, Judge Howell also made an interesting ruling in one of US Copyright Group’s cases, involving the movie Call of the Wild. Like her earlier ruling, this one will have many more copyright trolls filing cases in her district, hoping to get a judge so amenable to the arguments of copyright trolls. The ruling was a default judgment, meaning that the guy being sued simply did not respond to being sued (a dumb move). Of course, with a default judgment, the court still has some leeway in ordering what kind of award is given, and in this case, Judge Howell has apparently decided that the absolute minimum anyone could pay if found in default on a copyright case is not the $200 for innocent infringers, nor the $750 amount that is the official minimum listed in the law… but, rather $3,430, which is the $750 amount plus another $2,680 in lawyer’s fees. That’s a bit strange since it’s not all that common to award attorney’s fees in such cases, and considering that US Copyright Group is a factory of sorts, pumping out tons of these cases, and suing tens of thousands of individuals without much effort to ascertain the legitimacy of the lawsuits, it’s difficult to see how it could have cost them that much at all.
Still, have no fear that this particular default judgment will be waved around by USCG and others in their shakedown letters to people who are being pressured into paying up.