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
    Swarmy, 4 May 2006 @ 10:43am

    Re: So what?

    throbi said: "I live in China and I do not care :-)"

    Wow! what a totally salient point, thanks for adding that to the conversation. If you really don't care then why are you A) reading the article, and B) then taking the time to comment. Here's something for you to care about pally, go do a search for Tiananmen Square student demonstration photos. You know, the one with the guy standing down the tank? Like this:
    I'll bet you can't find a single one, gee I wonder why?
    Also, please add some words like "freedom, overthrow, revolt, anticommunist" to your posts, it will help us see less of your useless comments in the future.

    On-topic: Now as to the RIAA, someone needs to challenge their proof that the defendent was actually distributing the songs, only then could they be fined equivalent to a distribution license. Mostly their proof is an IP address and songs available from it, however there is no evidence that the song was actually distributed, merely that it could have been. Unfortunately for them, "could have" is not legally actionable. Someone who can afford a [good] laywer will eventually be targeted and then we'll see some of this crap come to light in court.

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