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
    TheMajor, 3 May 2006 @ 5:05am

    What ever happened to...

    1 - Innocent until proven guilty. Seems to me that, as recent examples show, the RIAA doesn't care that you do not own a computer or even have internet access, they will sue you any way unless you pay up. Gee, where have I heard that before....oh yeah "I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse."

    2 - Common sense - The RIAA has none. They tried to kill all of the pay-per-song start ups and now that, iTunes for example, are doing well, they want a bigger cut of the pie. The people over there are just plain stupid and short sighted. A little common sense would turn their industry around.

    3 - Public outcry - No offense to everyone here, but unless (US Folks) you have called your rep's (State and in Congress), all postings like this do is...well...nothing. All we are doing is yelling "STOP or I'll say Stop again." (Robin Williams). I've called and emailed several times and even received a call back from my State rep because he didn't fully understand the problem and wanted to know more. Most Rep's don't fully understand Fair Use, but they do understand "Illegal Copy"

    That's my 2 bits....
    End Transmission

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