Are The RIAA's $750-Per-Song Fines Unconstitutional?

from the might-need-a-better-argument dept

In the past, many have questioned why the RIAA gets to request $750 to $30,000 per song fines against those they've charged with offering up unauthorized songs on file sharing networks. Last year there was actually a research paper published that questioned whether or not these fines were unconstitutional, since they may be excessive. That paper included some interesting case history to suggest why the fines might be a bit too high. It appears that one lawyer is finally testing a similar theory in court, and has filed a motion in one such case suggesting that $750 fines are unconstitutional. If you look at the details, it looks like the argument is based on different case law than the research paper -- and the motion seems pretty weak overall in describing the details (i.e., it has very few details). The RIAA quickly filed a response that hits back pretty strongly against the original motion, saying that the case cited isn't really relevant at all -- and that the comparisons made in the motion don't really apply. The original motion points to the money the recording industry would make from someone buying the song on iTunes, but the industry points out that buying a song on iTunes isn't the same thing as a license to distribute it -- which makes sense. It seems highly unlikely that the court will buy the unconstitutional argument, especially as presented, but it's an interesting tactic nonetheless. It's not clear why the original motion didn't delver further into the issue, or use some of the info in last year's paper as a resource to back up the claim... but maybe the lawyer decided it wasn't that compelling.

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  1. identicon
    Kaleb, 3 May 2006 @ 8:30am

    RIAA is seriously getting on my nerves

    The fact that the recording artists are being paid very little by todays hollywood standards just makes me wonder where all of the money goes. Excessive greed and a buttering up of gov. employees gives the RIAA all the power they need to blow this whole thing out of proportion. I havent bought a cd in about three years now. The indie labels are more impressive lately anyway. And when the big time record execs put out something worth buying (something creative and new, not the same old repetitive nonsense) I might have to give em' some cash. As a musician i appreciate good music, however it's few and far between these days. But I could be wrong and it could be a horrible tragedy! :)

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