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. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 20 Oct 2008 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Fines and the LAW

    with Techdirt, and most of the commenters on this blog is where they say, "supply is infinite, therefore value should be zero."
    Mmm, no. We say Price should be zero, not Value. Price and value are two different things. The music is valuable, otherwise nobody would download or share it. However, it is basic economics that once something is infinitely available, its price will be driven to zero. That is why most sites that sell music do not try to force a whole CD down your throat when you only want one song. They can sell it for a much cheaper price because they are not selling the whole disc. And the rest of the CD is not valuable to the buyer, so they are quite unlikely to pay a price higher than what they value it at.

    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.
    Yes the creator should be able to choose how to sell it. That doesn't mean they are always going to make the most intelligent decision though. Here I often see suggestions for how they could make money. Nowhere is it stated that those are the only business models. You yourself pointed out you no longer buy CDs. The business model of selling plastic discs is decreasing. Other business models should be allowed to take their place based on market demand, not on government protectionism.

    ." Just because there isn't something physical that is being stolen doesn't make it any less stealing.
    Actually, yah it does. It is not stealing, we are talking about copyright infrinement here. The law says, the courts have said, and we here say it is copyright infrinement, not theft. For it to be theft, or stealing something, the original holder of said item has to no longer possess it. If I go to your driveway in the middle of the night, and make an exact duplicate of your car, and drive the duplicate away, I have stolen nothing. You still have your car. It is not stealing.

    Who are you to say that some business must adopt that type of a model for how they sell their IP?
    We never suggest they must. We suggest they can, and that it would be intelligent to go that route and NOT treat your customers like criminals. Treating everybody like criminals is bad PR. Just ask the RIAA. Everybody hates them. And again, it isn't stealing.

    As for your analogy, Drug dealing and copyright infringement are very far apart items. One is a felony, and the other is a civil dispute. That alone makes an ocean of a difference. If you ask me, making it available AND people downloading it should not be enough for infringement. If I buy a song, CD, anything like that, I have a right to back it up. In most cases, for anything semi-popular or more, it will be faster to download it than to take the time to rip it myself. I may have downloaded it, but they have in no way even distributed an infringing copy because I own it and have a right to it. So, if you ask me, the bar needs to actually be raised to prove infringement, not lowered.

    I believe there was no name calling in there. And we are talking about music, not software. =P

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