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
    Mitch, 3 May 2006 @ 8:54pm

    Re: RE: RIAA

    Now hold on a second. If a criminal gets out of prison, and commits another crime, we ought not fault the legal system, we should fault the criminal. When the RIAA, MPAA, or any other lobbying organization writes legislation and then "contributes" to (i.e. legally bribes) Congress to encourage passage of said legislation, they are undermining our system of government. They should be held more culpable than our elected representatives, not less, because the bad acts wouldn't exist without them. Congress is just the delivery system of the corruption.

    And make no mistake, it is corruption. I own my own corporation, but I know it is not a person, despite what one widely misinterpreted court decision might say. Corporations do not have the right to vote, and so should not be able to lobby. Neither should they be treated as a "person" or have the right to vote. We capitalists can't have it both ways: either a corporation is a person, and subject to all civil and criminal laws governing individuals, or it is not a person, and subject to different laws.

    What do we do in the United States to those convicted of mass murder? Right, we execute them. But was Bridgestone/Firestone executed? What about Union Carbide? Nope. Hence, they cannot, by definition, be legal persons.

    Until we clean up the oligopolies corrupting our government, we can't hope to have a prayer for honest government.

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