RIAA Calls Another Critic Vexatious After She Points Out Flaw In RIAA Logic

from the time-to-get-a-thesaurus dept

It appears that someone in the RIAA's legal team discovered the word "vexatious" lately and now likes to use it. First, the RIAA declared lawyer Ray Beckerman vexatious, and now it's trying to pin the same word on a woman who is demanding a jury trial in her battle against the RIAA. We had written about this case back in August, where the woman used an innocent infringement defense to try to get the fines for file sharing decreased. That is, she admitted that she had shared the files, but rather than accepting the $750 to $150,000/per song fines that might entail, she claimed that she had no idea what she was doing was illegal, and that the law allows for such cases to be reduced to a $200/song fine.

The RIAA initially pushed back on this, but eventually relented and let the judge set a $7,400 total fine, thinking that the case was pretty much wrapped up. Except... there's the problem of the Jammie Thomas mistrial ruling, which added to a long list of rulings that claimed that "making available" files wasn't necessarily infringement. So, the woman in this case, Whitney Harper, is now pointing out that the number of files she's "guilty" of infringing should be reduced based on the Thomas ruling. She notes that while she made 37 songs available for download (hence the $7,400 fine), the RIAA only has evidence that six songs were downloaded. Thus, she believes the fine should be reduced to $1,200, and would like a jury to hear the case. You can understand why the RIAA might be frustrated, but considering how quickly it rushes out to tell other judges in ongoing cases whenever one judge rules in its favor, it seems only reasonable to have a court reconsider this case in light of the Thomas ruling.

Filed Under: innocent infringement, lawsuits, riaa, vexatious, whitney harper


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  1. identicon
    Matt, 20 Oct 2008 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Fines and the LAW

    I agree that the punishment should suit the crime.

    I agree that the selling CD business model is rather antiquated and I haven't bought a CD in years.

    However, where I've got to take objection with Techdirt, and most of the commenters on this blog is where they say, "supply is infinite, therefore value should be zero." Or where they look at any patents & IP as a bad thing, and something that should be done away with completely. Is there abuse and junk patents, yeah of course. But a patent is only as good as it is enforceable in court, so most junk patents are worth nothing.

    What it comes down to is that whoever created the MP3, software or other digital stuff should be able to decide how they want to sell it. If they are charging too much, people won't buy it. It doesn't make sense to say, "They're charging too much (i.e. "it isn't free"), therefore I'm going to steal it." Just because there isn't something physical that is being stolen doesn't make it any less stealing.

    People will hold up various different business models where software is free, and something else is charged for (ex: tech support, installation services, ads are incorporated with the software, etc...). That's fine. That's that business' choice on how to make money. Who are you to say that some business must adopt that type of a model for how they sell their IP? If you don't like their model, don't buy their software. Don't steal it and then get up on your high horse and say they shouldn't be charging money for it--it's their decision!

    Also, the requiring proof that a crime happened by proving someone actually downloaded the music (after it was made readily available for download using software that is designed to make it hard to trace) seems a bit unnecessary. (I'm going to make an analogy that lots of you will tell me is wrong, but here goes.) It'd be like if someone put meth in a publicly available vending machine, and the cops would be required to witness someone actually buying some meth in order to prosecute the person stocking the vending machine...

    I know I'll get flamed for this one big time, but at least keep it to arguments, not name calling.

    PS. I don't sell software, so I don't have any stake in this.

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