by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 28th 2010 2:53am
It continues to amaze me that there's anyone out there who thinks that the damages awarded in many copyright suits are anywhere close to reasonable or proportional to the "crime" at hand. Copycense points us to an article about a guy who was found guilty of putting software on the internet that allowed people to unlock Dish Network programming on unauthorized receivers. Because of this, Dish and another satellite TV provider, NagraStar, were awarded $51 million. $51 million -- for putting the software on the internet. That's all. The amount was determined based on the number of people who downloaded the software, even though, in all likelihood, a much, much smaller percentage would have ever actually paid for an authorized satellite TV account. Furthermore, this guy did not do the actual act of accessing the unauthorized signal, or breaking any encryption. He merely provided the tools to do so. Charging him with the bogus "cost" of each user of his software makes no sense at all. Even if you accept what he did was wrong and clearly illegal, it's difficult to see how that justifies the ridiculousness of the award.
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