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
    A musician, 3 May 2006 @ 10:14pm

    To the AC who wants to give up music

    I understand the sentiments to just give up on music. But that's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    There are tens of thousands of bands and musicians out there who make music for pleasure and give it away free on the net, lots of it is very good indeed.

    Sure, don't buy, copy or propagate commercial music. Start sending a message to the RIAA creeps by boycotting all their artists. That means not listening to it, even for free. The age when we all had a common point of reference and followed the same few hundred acts has passed. I find when it comes to dinner conversation people are far more interested to hear about the new and unusual bands I have discovered than the other way about. "Have you heard the new Coldplay album?"... "Sorry, who are Coldplay?"

    My interest in music and the diversity of my collection has skyrocketed since I stopped downloading and buying mainstream rubbish. I've never felt music was a more rich and satisfying entertainmant experience than it is today, Only difference is you have to go look for it. You've probably never heard of 99% of the music in my collection, because neither had I until I got into it.

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