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
    Matt, 3 May 2006 @ 7:00am

    No..

    They can't just charge whatever they want because "it's their product"... hey why don't they just charge $1 million per song and refuse to settle, then just prove that the person violated the copy agreement and the RIAA can be instant billionares.

    The reason: They can't.

    If they stopped thinking that their entire music industry deserves to be millionares just for making some half-assed set of 12 songs that they call a CD, maybe the music would only be like 25ยข a song and nobody would bother getting it illegally.

    I love music too but it's really a similar problem to the oil industry. When the RIAA says they are barely making a profit, that's because they pay their executives and probably lawyers MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS OF DOLLARS and call that an "expense". Anyone can live on $500,000 a year, that's more than reasonable. Any more than that is just greed. God do these people piss me off..

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