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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2010 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Judge Gertner in Tennenbaum used the word "unconsitutional", but then turned around and crafted her own "statutory damages" clause. Unconstitutional has always meant in every case I have ever studied that a clause is void, and not one than can be judicially rewritten to reflect what the judge is of the opinion Congress should have said.

    Hence, I believe it is fair to say that what she held was that the clause was perhaps unconstitutional as written, but that she saved it from the fate of unconstitutionality by rewriting it.

    Note to Judge Gertner: If you want to engage in legislating, resign from the bench and run for Congress.

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