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


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  1. icon
    Richard (profile), 22 Sep 2010 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re:

    In the early 1990's (according to David Owen then the EU co-chairman of the Conference for the Former Yugoslavia) when Sarajevo was under siege by the Serbs, the Bosnians would set up a mortar in the grounds of a hospital and fire off a few shells - then vacate the area and get the press in, just in time for the inevitable retaliation. In more recent times the Israelis have accused the Palestinians of doing something similar.

    What we have here is the same tactic in a legal context. It won't win the case, it will probably harm the defendant in the short term, but it will make the plaintiffs look bad to everyone who doesn't look too closely (that's almost everyone). In the long term it will change public sympathy and force a change in the law.
    Camara & Co. will then be one of the heroes of the revolution!

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