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Court Will Examine The Constitutionality Of RIAA Fines

from the a-big-loss-for-the-RIAA dept

When the RIAA sues people for unauthorized uploading of songs, they usually put a price between $750-per-song to $30,000-per-song in losses. Many have argued that this seems rather excessive -- especially considering how much the songs are actually sold for. A year and a half ago, there was a scholarly paper that examined whether the RIAA's excessive loss claims were unconstitutionally excessive. With that in mind, it wasn't that surprising earlier this year to see one defendant in an RIAA suit question the constitutionality of the $750 number that was trotted out in her case. At the time, we stated that the reasoning used to back this up seemed much weaker than the reasoning in the law review article, but as lawyer Ray Beckerman (who is involved in the case) explained, the filing was limited in length and only needed to serve a specific purpose. It also looks like they were later able to submit either the law review article we mentioned, or other supporting documents. No matter what happened, the judge has now ruled that it is a perfectly legitimate question, and will be included as part of the case. The judge tossed out all of the RIAA's objections, noting that the defendant actually backed up their claim with case law and law review articles. The RIAA, on the other hand, could offer no similar case law to explain why the constitutionality of the fines couldn't be questioned. Of course, who knows how the case will turn out, but should the RIAA lose, it would be pretty damaging for them. They use the threat of the $750/song (or higher) fines as a way to bully people into just settling, rather than fighting -- even if they know they're innocent.

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  1. identicon
    Poster #10, 10 Nov 2006 @ 9:14am

    Re: post 14

    I agree with all that you say except for placing worth on what the person that downloaded intended to do with it (buying or not). If it was downloaded and not purchased from a person that is just sharing the song with no rights to it the law has been broken, period. That doesn't change the value of the song to the company that produced it, just to the individual that wants it or wants to preview it. Now I am all for being able to preview songs, but downloading them on the net form a peer to peer system is still not a legal means of doing so unless the law gets changed, no matter what you or anybody else thinks about it. Heck, you are technically breaking the law just by letting a friend barrow a CD let alone share it on a peer to peer network. However, lets not open that can, we are talking about the RIAA suing for unjust amounts of money. I agree that no matter what... the RIAA should have to prove their case and that it isn't right to flash an expensive lawyer and a high price to get you to break.

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