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), 23 Sep 2010 @ 4:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And what if the Supreme Court affirms the Fifth Circuit taking away the possibility of an innocent infringer defense for everyone? Will Camara and Co. be heroes then?

    Yes because they are trying to make the law look bad. Taking away that defence would be a public relations disaster for copyright law.

    The more the RIAA win in the courts the more they lose with the public.

    Even they seem to recognise this - as they have tried to back away from the bigger judgements in their favour.

    What they are trying to do is to scare people enough to stop them sharing music but not so much that they. Turn around and react against them - either by forcing a change in the law or by stopping. It's a difficult balancing act - and one which I don't believe is possible.

    You need to take off your legal blinkers and see the bigger picture.

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