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
    Sanguine Dream, 10 Nov 2006 @ 5:31am

    Realistically speaking...

    If I hire a construction agency to do some repairs on my house for me and I try not to pay then the agency takes me to civil court to make me pay. And once they prove that I do indeed owe them the money I will be ordered to pay the bill for the repairs.

    In that instance the agency will have clear cut proof of losses (in building supplies and emplyoee worktime) to show the civil court that I owe them x amount of money. The RIAA doesn't seem to be able to prove (at least not to the general public) that they lost $750 - $30,000 per song or else we wouldn't be talking about it.

    $750 - $30,000. Thats just ridiculous. These jerks really think that one song is worth somewhere between a month's rent and a brand new SUV?

    Math time: $750 - $30,00 per song at 15 songs per album is $11,250 - $450,000. So that means that one album can be worth somewhere between a new compact car to more than the president's annual salary according to these guys.

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