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
    Adam Knapp, 10 Nov 2006 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Preventitive

    has anyone considered the injustice and theft that's already going on against the artists BY the RIAA? A record contract doesn't make an artist rich, and can in fact put them into debt. A record can cost over 50,000 dollars to produce, paying for studio time, staff, backup musicians, etc. The record company does not pay for this, it merely loans the money to the musician.

    When the CD is cut and sells for 15.00 or so, the majority of the money from the store goes back to the record company (there is a very small profit margin on new CD's). This is about 13 dollars. Of that, 10 goes directly into the record company and the pockets of its executives. about 2 goes into the pockets of the A&R and legal staff that directly work with the band, and 50 cents or so goes into directly related expenses. 50 cents per CD or even much less actually goes to the band. From this 50 cents the band must pay for their living expenses, much of the arrangements for their tours, their agent (who gets a large cut) and of course, the studio time that recorded the CD.

    For a band to make even a little profit from a CD, the album has to get very popular, sometimes making Gold or even platinum before a single dime is seen.

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