Supreme Court Asked To Explore Whether 'Innocent Infringement' Is A Legit Response In File Sharing Cases

from the might-not-matter-after-acta... dept

A few years back, we wrote about a teenager who used "innocent infringement" as a defense to an unauthorized file sharing lawsuit brought against her by the RIAA. Innocent infringement is in the law, as a way to reduce the statutory awards from the $750 minimum to $200. It doesn't absolve the person or get them out of paying, but can greatly lower the amount. The district court agreed, and said she could just pay the $200 rate. However, an appeals court overturned, saying that because CDs have copyright notices on them -- even though the girl never saw the CDs -- the girl should have known that the mp3s were infringing. The logic there made very little sense. How can you hold someone to a clause that was never seen?

The girl's lawyers have now appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which now has the option of weighing in on the matter (the Wired article linked here is a little misleading, in that at the beginning and in the headline, it implies that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case). If I had to guess, I'd say the Supreme Court won't take the case, even though it is an important issue.

Filed Under: copyright, innocent infringement, supreme court


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2010 @ 7:22am

    Even aside from not seeing the copyright notice on the CDs, if the girl understood file sharing to be the same as Internet Radio, how could she know that the sharing was unauthorized? No one pays anything to listen to regular Radio, and presumably there were no notices on the website saying these these were unauthorized files.

    This takes on more weight, I think, in light of the fact that some artists (Trent Reznor comes to mind) have used peer-to-peer networks to distribute authorized copies of copyright-protected works, so the simple fact that the files were on a p2p network doesn't seem to be invincible proof that they were unathorized.

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