Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




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
    teknosapien, 13 Nov 2006 @ 12:50pm

    how can they even get away with 1/2 of what they a

    So let me ask something here (it maybe a bit off topic)I have thousands (that’s correct 1000’s) of Albums CD's and tapes, If I encode these in to MP3s or manage to get my hands on an already MP3'd copy does that place me at risk. I own the original releases. What If I place these recording on my home media server (password protected of course) and I stream it to my place of work or to a friends party is that something that would raise the flag with these people ?

    I'm also curious as to how far they go into invading your privacy. Does it break any laws - how are they getting access to your hard drive or are they just making accusations and taking it to court – I always though there needed to be “Just Cause” for something like this to happen ? Just because something is marked Mysong.mp3 by the Rich Fabulous Bastards doesn't mean that that’s actually what is in a file. I have yet to see how they are making their claims or even getting the right to invade your privacy to search for incriminating evidence.



    The whole thing just makes me sick and tired of the greedy bastards that don’t support the arts but rather support the music industries puppets. Most commercial music is nothing more than a poor attempt to make money on something that has absolutely no artistic value what so ever

    Meanwhile at archive.org many a new musician gets my support. If I like something I will defiantly support the artist, buy, go see them perform and purchase their stuff.



    If it quacks like a duck and hops like a frog, what the hell is it

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