No, The RIAA Is Not Asking For $72 Trillion From Limewire (Bad Reporters, Bad)

from the stop-that dept

In the last day or so we keep seeing people send over variations on this story claiming that the RIAA claims it is owed $72 trillion dollars from Limewire. Many of the reports appear to originate from the NME post I just linked to, though I don’t think that’s accurate. The story is bogus in almost every way possible, and it’s kinda sad that a ton of websites are repeating it as fact. If the basic statement sounds familiar, it’s because the RIAA member labels did make an extreme request on damages last year in the Limewire case, suggesting that every single download should be subject to statutory damages, which could, under some circumstances (basically willful infringement) reach up to $150,000 per download. As we (and many other sites) reported in March of 2011, Judge Kimba Wood rejected that claim, noting that:

“Plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877,” Wood wrote, citing a Lime Group court filing referring to the inventor Thomas Edison. She called this an “absurd result.”

While she did say that such an argument would likely lead to “billions” in damages, she also mentioned that it could possibly reach trillions in damages, but I don’t believe she ever mentioned $72 trillion. Someone, however, did a back of the envelope calculation based on downloads and tossed out that $72 trillion number, and it caught on widely… again, way back in March of 2011. The first place I can find (though it may have come from somewhere else) to quote such a massive number was actually a Law.com article that came out right before the ruling was made. And it says $75 trillion.

Anyway, a year ago, in May of 2011, Limewire famously (or so we thought) settled the case for $105 million. That case is basically over.

And yet, for reasons that are beyond me, someone has revived the original story and lots and lots of other sites — including plenty with real reporters who should know better — are repeating it as fact, even to the point some are claiming that this shows the RIAA “wasn’t satisfied” with the $105 million settlement. Most reports are linking back to NME as originating it, and the NME report links back to one of the many posts from March of 2011, from Computerworld, so you might think that the (nameless) NME reporter misread the date.

However, in looking around, two days before NME did its bogus report, it looks like Stuff.co.nz posted a similar story also linking to that same ComputerWorld story. Amusingly, the very first comment on that Stuff piece points out that link is to a story from 2011. And yet, Stuff has still not updated its story or posted a correction. Meanwhile, it looks like NME’s (still nameless) reporter, simply copied the story from Stuff without crediting Stuff in the first place… meaning that many people are blaming NME for reviving the story, when really, NME just sucks at crediting their sources (and fact checking).

Either way, tons of other sites picked up on the story, including CBS News, who has since pulled it down entirely and just has a 404 page where it was before.

Then there are the folks at “Business Insider,” who still have the story up but appear to have appended a “note” at the bottom that says “This case was settled last May for the much smaller fee of $105 million.” You’d think that this should have led them to (a) change the headline (b) put the note at the top (c) be a little more clear in correcting their error. Even The Onion fell for it, though they’ve since posted an update. Then there are folks like WebProNews, Spinner and ZeroPaid (who is normally so good on this stuff), all of whom should have known better.

Anyway: basically this story is bogus. Well over a year ago, the RIAA made a ridiculous attempt to seek damages on every download. No specific amount was named, and no matter how you do your math, that $72 trillion number never made any sense at all. It was just a reporter looking for a good headline. Either way, the judge totally rejected that plan 15 months ago, and the entire case settled a year ago.

Nothing to see here folks, other than an internet pile-on. Move along now…

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Companies: limewire, riaa

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Comments on “No, The RIAA Is Not Asking For $72 Trillion From Limewire (Bad Reporters, Bad)”

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57 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The 61 trillion dollars is the GDP of the planet. Actual wealth is higher than that (though not as high as I would have thought), coming in at about $200 trillion. I looked that up after wondering if the $16 trillion U.S. national debt could really represent a quarter of the world’s wealth, and turn’s out it’s only about 8%….still way too high, but that’s another argument.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So would you care to backup your statement or are you just going to throw stones without any evidence?
I’ve seen Mike and the others have to make corrections to stories, and they do so openly. They do it so we can trust in what they are reporting on, they also provide links to support their conclusions and sources.
You have done neither and just seem to be trolling in the vain hopes that someone will engage you in some kind of namecalling so that your e-peen will throb mightily.
And now you have gotten it… now run along, the adults are talking.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

While the 72 trillion is a bogus number, the sadder portion of this is that no one for a moment considered it wasn’t exactly what the cartel demanded.
They are regularly completely over the top in their claims, and anyone would be hard pressed to not believe they would not have demanded more money than exists on the planet.
As the fines and penalties go up they expect they will somehow turn the tide and win the war. The problem is they are at war with their customers, and can’t draw that little line connecting their insane actions to the number of customers telling them to fuck off and moving onto other things they found on the net.

blah blah blah pirates, blah blah thieves, blah blah blah.

A business model has to adjust to the times it currently wants to survive in. All of this money thrown into the “war” is wasted and is speeding their decline, but they are sure just a few million more and they will change the entire world… they are delusional. One can only hope they will finally going to die off like they have sworn every innovation was going to do and let someone new with a clue take over and be more successful than the cartels ever were.

AB says:

Re: Re:

But… but… but… won’t anyone think of the lawyers?!

If the Mafiaa stop wasting money chasing windmills how will the poor lawyers survive? Who will pay them? There are hundreds of millions of regular people who make a living supporting the legal industry: Taxi drivers, secretaries, tailors, restauranteurs, letterhead designers, corporate CEOs, and politicians to name just a few. How will these people continue to feed their families if the mafiaa stop throwing meaningless law suits around? Just imagine how many jobs would be lost!

It should be clear to anyone that the nation relies on these legal filings for its very survival. Next time, please think of the lawyers before suggesting the mafiaa stop.

drew (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I started writing a “manifesto” for what the content industry could do to sort out their business model and remain relevant but I was initially concerned that it was taking me so long to write that they’d adapt before I finished it.
I’m now more concerned that they might completely lock down the web before I get chance to publish it…
http://www.yamdac.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/manifesto-for-content-industry.html

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Agree , it is not a far fetched bogus number.

context of….

Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s $1.92 million dollar playlist (2009)

Guns N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”; “November Rain”
Vanessa Williams “Save the Best for Last”
Janet Jackson “Let?s What Awhile”
Gloria Estefan “Here We Are”; “Coming Out of the Heart”; “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”
Goo Goo Dolls “Iris”
Journey “Faithfully”; “Don?t Stop Believing”
Sara McLachlan “Possession”; “Building a Mystery”
Aerosmith “Cryin?”
Linkin Park “One Step Closer”
Def Leppard “Pour Some Sugar on Me”
Reba McEntire “One Honest Heart”
Bryan Adams “Somebody”
No Doubt “Bathwater”; “Hella Good”; “Different People”
Sheryl Crow “Run Baby Run”
Richard Marx “Now and Forever”
Destiny?s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills”
Green Day “Basket Case”

MAFIAA SAYS:
LimeWire enabled $72 Trillion dollars in content theft.

Seems Legit !

not factual…but comprehensible with logic

jakerome (profile) says:

The New Math// A realistic method to calculate Real damages

Wrote this somewhere else. Guess it was all for nothing. ๐Ÿ™ But give it a read.
——–

I think the judge should use this as an opportunity to point out that assigning statutory damages is simply inappropriate for a case such as this, and should require the RIAA to base damages request upon actual damages.

So that’s 480 million downloads… the service is rough hybrid between iTunes & Spotify, picking a geometric mean seems appropriate.

iTunes is $1/song. Spotify is about $0.003/song. The geometric average is SQRT($1 x $0.003) = $0.054/song. Multiply by 480 million downloads, that’s $26 million dollars. Should leave the investors with nada, and establish a nice precedent whereby the damage per download has now been reduced by 99.999964%. I could live with that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Actually, Mike, if one takes the RIAA’s logic that Judge Wood mentions in her order, and if one acknowledges that the RIAA has never left a penny on the table in its demands, then the number of the implicit damages demand would be $ 75 quadrillion. It is 500 million downloads times $150,000 statutory damages per infringer per work infringed (on the assumption that no individual downloaded the same song multiple times). So you’re right that the articles are indeed wrong, but they were wrong by UNDERestimating the RIAA’s demands.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oops, my math was wrong in the 10:28 pm comment above. 75 trillion, not quadrillion, is the number. But that $75 trillion number is a fair calculation of damages from the RIAA’s arguments — and since RIAA didn’t give an actual demand number (presumably because that would be too embarrassing), it’s fair to make the calculation based on the elements in RIAA’s arguments.

hfbs (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh heavens no. It’s quite sad that they’d just jump all over the headline in an excuse for a good story without bothering to check the date of the sources. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’d be a great story.. a year ago. Now though, there’s no excuse :/

(BTW, in my previous post, I, of course, meant the Stuff.co.nz article, not the NME one. God I’m stupid this morning)

Jimmy says:

no you didn't

Stop defending the RIAA. We know you are bought and paid for by the RIAA Mike Masnick.

Guys this guy is bought and paid for by the RIAA, don’t trust a word he says, everyone call and email Mike how we don’t need fake journalists like Mike who are paid by the RIAA and demand that his ass is fired from techdirt.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Oh No, Not That! Never That!

“Or they could just buy a few Googles and Facebooks and Twitters.”

They’d become “Big Search”, “Big Social Media” and all the other things they claim to hate and that exist only to fund and support piracy!

The only thing worse would be if they bought out Kickstarter, too, so they could become “Big DRM”!

What on Earth would bob do? What could he troll about anymore? What new “histories” would or could he invent if that ever happened.

Forget the children!

Think about bob! O the trauma, the shock, the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome bob would suffer!

We’d never see bob again…

Hold on. Just a moment.

Let me think about that…

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