Supreme Court Apparently Interested In 'Innocent Infringer' RIAA Case

from the this-could-get-interesting dept

We've been covering the Whitney Harper "innocent infringement" case for a while now. Harper, as a teenager, was sued in one of the tens of thousands of RIAA lawsuits, for sharing some music via Limewire. US copyright law has a provision for "innocent infringement," where it lets you lower the statutory award amounts from a minimum of $750 down to $200. Harper made the case that she was unaware that sharing music via Limewire was unauthorized, as it seemed just like an online radio to her. While the district court sided with Harper in saying that it was innocent infringement, the record labels appealed and the appeals court reversed, claiming that because the CD cases of the music in question had proper copyright notices, Harper was properly notified... even though she never saw those cases.

Harper appealed to the Supreme Court earlier this year. At the time, I noted that while this is an important issue, I doubted the Supreme Court would hear the case. However, indicating a fair bit of interest, the Court has asked the RIAA to respond to Harper's appeal -- which generally indicates serious interest in potentially taking the case. According to Wired, the court normally agrees to hear less than 1% of appeals, but if it requests more info on a petition, then it tends to take 34% of those cases. Still long odds, but a lot more likely...

Filed Under: copyright, innocent infringement, supreme court, whitney harper


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    average_joe (profile), 22 Sep 2010 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Your number is a bit off.

    Here's what happened: Plaintiffs offered to settle for $4,000. Harper refused. On summary judgment, the District Court awarded plaintiffs $7,400 ($200 per infringement). Unhappy with that, Harper appealed, and then the plaintiffs cross-appealed. The Fifth Circuit awarded plaintiffs $27,750 ($750 per infringement).

    Harper just kept making things worse for herself.

    I agree with you that the numbers are crazy, but as a matter of law, I don't think Harper should have qualified for the innocent infringer defense in the first place. She should have considered herself lucky that the District Court judge bought it and not appealed. Heck, she should have just settled for four grand and called it a day.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.