BSA Wants To Export Insane Statutory Damages For Copyright Infringement To Other Countries

from the going-in-the-wrong-direction dept

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has a long history of being on the wrong side of history. It does little to actually help the software business, but instead, it tries to be the RIAA of the software business by looking to promote innovation-destroying policies to prop up the obsolete business models of a few giant companies; for example, its yearly joke of a report about “losses” to the industry from infringement. It’s such a joke that the research firm that conducted the research, IDC, admitted that the BSA was deliberately misinterpreting its findings (and yet, IDC continues to do the same report every year for the BSA). The BSA has also misrepresented ACTA, argued against open standards and (most famously) has long been noted for its questionable “raids” on companies, where if you can’t find the receipt for every copy of Microsoft Office, they claim you infringed.

The BSA’s latest move is — once again relying on its own bogus stats — to suggest that Europe and other parts of the world need to import the horrible “statutory damages” for copyright concept that the US uses, effectively ratcheting up the punishment for infringement without ever having to show actual damages.

As the European Union considers changes to its intellectual property rules, it needs to make sure that higher damage payments deter pirates, who often benefit because of insufficient fines, said Warren Weertman, manager of legal affairs for Washington-based Business Software Alliance….

?Lump sum damages would act more as a deterrent than having two actuaries fight it out in a costly court case,? Weertman said in a phone interview from London. ?It?s a vicious circle where the damages aren?t deterrent enough.?

Of course, this is ridiculous for a few different reasons. First off, the BSA is (as noted above) famous for concocting ridiculously bogus calculations of “damages” from infringement. And here, suddenly, they’re afraid to bring those stats into court to prove actual damages? Seems like the BSA is basically admitting that it knows its own numbers are complete bunk.

Second, and more importantly, Weertman seems to have fallen sway to the total myth that greater enforcement stops infringement. This has been debunked so many times, it’s not even funny. When even the death penalty doesn’t deter infringement, you would think that people would start to realize that ratcheting up enforcement isn’t the answer. Earlier this year, we pointed to the massive, incredibly thorough SSRC report on media piracy which presented tremendous amounts of evidence that greater enforcement does not slow down infringement.

If anything, greater enforcement and ridiculously high statutory awards for infringement do the exact opposite of what the BSA thinks it’s supporting. That is, when people hear about crazy amounts of money owed for sharing just a few infringing files, it doesn’t make them respect copyright law more. It makes them think that the numbers are so out of touch with reality, that copyright law itself is a joke. It makes people respect the law even less. And yet here are the clueless BSA execs thinking it’s a smart strategy.

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Comments on “BSA Wants To Export Insane Statutory Damages For Copyright Infringement To Other Countries”

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out_of_the_blue says:

"When even the death penalty doesn't deter infringement"

Reminds me, “nasch” wrote somewhere: “Can you think of any law that would actually be effective in stopping copyright infringement?”

And what occurred to me was: yes, moral law that says one /shouldn’t/ take someone else’s work product.

If you pirates will adopt that — most of you including Mike claim that you already /do/ obey that moral law — then a deal of the problem just doesn’t exist.

So quit worrying about copyright if you’ve a clear conscience. — You can still worry, as I do, about the effect of the backlash to piracy. — But there’s always the suspicion that those who are arguing about the horrors of copyright as such are in fact trying to excuse their own actions of piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "When even the death penalty doesn't deter infringement"

And those who advocate for the removal of “Sex offender registries” as cruel and unusual punishment and overstepping their original means (Many people are on there that didn’t diddle a kiddie or raped an adult) are seen as trying to pave the way for their future or current child molestation rampage.

Emotions in rational arguments are stupid that way.

freak (profile) says:

Re: "When even the death penalty doesn't deter infringement"

Eh, why isn’t it moral to copy someone else’s music/book/whatev?

Let’s look at in a few ways: act utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism, kantianism, and social contract theory.

Act utilitarianism: I copy your song. You’ve lost nothing, I’ve gained a copy of your song. Plus for copying.

Rule utilitarianism: Same thing, but everyone does it. If everyone (who wanted to) copied your song, you would have lost nothing, everyone would have gained something, but there is the chance that you would not have created the song in the first place.
But, very few people live from their music, and there are many, many people who make music far beyond the number that make enough money to live off of it, and the free sharing of culture would lead to a lot of these people making more/better music after having been inspired by more sources.
So, questionable, but I give copying the win here.

Kantianism: If everyone copied music, would it still be possible to copy music? As the answer to the above, the grand majority of people do not make music for money, at least in the sense of selling plastic discs, and thus would not stop making music. So, in Kantianism, copying holds.

Social Contract theory:
Well, up until very recently, it was allowed, and expected, to be able to copy music, like, say, mix tapes, to give to your friends. That social contract was in place before the current confusion, and existed well before copyright.
So, it is moral to copy, because we all agreed to copy, well before some small group of people decided we couldn’t. Since society still largely disagrees with them, well, we have copyright infringement, which is the evidence that social contract is still in place.

What about that, four arguments for the mortality of copying, and none of them, not even one, needs to touch on the economic gain that copying may give. (If I chose to, rule utilitarianism would also conclude, this time unambiguously, in favour of copying)

What’s your argument for the immorality of copying?

iBelieve says:

Re: Re: "When even the death penalty doesn't deter infringement"

Copying has been a key selling point for all the tape, cd, and dvd systems that these asskissng companies made trillions off of the masses. It was well known that you could not copy someone else’s work for commercial aspirations unless a copy deal and licensing was in the midst of one’s copying practices.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Limewire taken down at the end of 2010.”

Did that stop infringement?

“Recorded music sales are up in 2011”

Correlation != causation. There’s a hundred other factors that could be involved.

“according to the Sandvine report just released, P2P traffic is down”

P2P isn’t the only traffic that can be used for piracy. Measuring just one metric doesn’t prove anything.

“Sucks to be a pirate when correlation equals causation.”

It only equals that in your world. Join us in the real world some time.

Bear (profile) says:

Corporate Shake Downs

It would seem that BSA’s stance is simply more thrust in the “private right to action” direction. Harsher monetary penalties could serve a higher rate of settlement successes. With the already much, much too high financial, emotional and stressful burden of actually defending yourself this sort of behaviour is prevalent and, really, needs some adjustment. Rapid curb existence discovery, that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, being that they can seemingly buy and write their own laws in their own (misunderstood) interests before “society” can even understand what’s going down before it’s too late and society (that’s all of us) gets shafted.

I think, besides the current corporate rape, rip and tear mentality, that telecom is to blame or, minimally, shares a rather large portion of fault. These carriers (cable, wireless, phone line, satcoms) can rake it in with multiple fees, high services base rates, overages, advertising, government program fees for subsidizing vapor expansion &c and so on so that Media consistently sees the deliverers get pretty big coin and then wants a bit more of it and the carrier protection racket would rather crimp on paying out by providing us with fucking crap cubed than pay Media for good shit (reality “this” bitches) that Media, in turn, gropes out madly in their all too typical lash out fashion all the while carriers sourced it and ride it (AND help highly questionable government entities without fear of reprisals) and we, WE get to toss coin at all their mad asses, willingly and not so willingly.

And so every little startup that aims to deliver Media’s products gets worked because, well, they’re really only protecting themselves and always, unwittingly, completely screw themselves whilst trying not to get screwed again deliverer style and as such the customer gets royally screwed and now that it’s so far overboard that we, the customers, are now seeing such draconian, harmful, nonsense of a piracy boogie-man around each and every corner that all involved have completely fucking forgotten what it is that they’re supposed to be providing.

So, the customer, sees all this, genuinely tries to make everyone happy yet continually and invariably gets screwed out of horridly unreasonable sums of money.

Tell me again why piracy is the root of the problem? Just how many times do I get to watch “Die Hard” with ass dub overs and horrid commercials selling things that I personally, have never, ever purchased, ever and don’t plan to? What bloody times are these guys living in that when a customer is thinking “I want to watch this : or I want to listen to this : now” without signing up for completely crap ass services via web, cable, satellite, channel this, package that or what-have-you?

Now bitches! And I’m not fucking joking. Grind it out or we’ll find it out – it’s just that real. You’ll not be able to wish it away, hide it or new law your way somewhere else, else.

Media! Get out of the closet – You’re gay and you know it so clap your hands! The Internet is NOW and you’re blowing it.. HUGE, like big, big, big time. Blow…ing it.

Old Man in The Sea says:

Ignore History, Repeat History

BSA is a USA group. It appears to not know your own history.

What happened culturally and socially during the period known as The Prohibition? When that period was over, what happened culturally and socially?

What happened culturally and socially during the period known as The Second Red Scare? When that period was over, what happened culturally and socially?

Enough said.

regards to all even the trolls.

UglyFrogCreature (profile) says:


mmmmmm.. It wants our Precious. It takes our pretty things. It watches us. It listens to our thoughts! It wants it. Precious. It wants to control us. It makes us uncomfortable when we want to go places it does. It keeps us safe.. No! It makes us its play things. We build it and it hates us! It lies. Vile! It jails us from us! Precious… What is It? It can’t keep Precious safe. Precious is not safe.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Oh this quote from the article is a classic

?Most EU countries do not have statutory damages and right holders are forced to prove actual loss,? Allgrove said in an interview. ?There is a material difference between monetary awards in the U.S. and many other markets,? he said

Of course they ask plaintiffs to PROVE actual damages since Infringement is based on the concept of negligence, where one of the elements is to prove on balance that harm did actually occur before any damages can be equitably given

Oh and the fact that most democratic countries in the EU, and even some others like AUST/NZ (even some non-democratic ones, though not the USA it seems) realise that statutory damages are another phrase for “fines” and Fines can by definition only be initiated and collected by statutory authorities that have to abide by the same rules of evidence as criminal laws and not balance of probabilities.

If US companies (and the USG) stopped trying to force illogical US laws and business stupidity and the concept of blaming others for your own fuckups in business practices both economical and ethical on the rest of the world, the rest of the world would maybe start listening to you instead of laughing at the mess you have gotten your business (and by default country) into

Rain Day says:

It’s interesting that nowhere in the article (nor any of the 40 comments) are names mentioned of any members of the BSA, or which company provides the real muscle behind it.

The Big Four members of Riaa, and the Big Six members of the MPAA are well known and mentioned often. So why do the Big Three BSA members get a pass?

The BSA is mainly Microsoft’s baby, with Adobe and Apple acting as godparents, and the rest of the members merely helping to give this front group an air of legitimacy…but the air around them still stinks.

In many ways the BSA’s bullying, mobster tactics make the MAFIAA look like wanna-be amateurs.

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