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
    Abhinav, 29 Nov 2010 @ 11:08am

    Copyright law resembles apartheid law

    "This amount reminds me of days when a Black man would be put in jail for sitting on a bench for Whites."

    Hi,
    I read today that the US supreme court will not give a hearing to the case.
    I feel that the laws governing music piracy are breaking some basic principles of justice.

    Making a person pay $750 for each track is outrageous.

    If I steal a burger at MacD, will I be charged the cost of dinner plate at a expensive Manhattan restaurant?
    Lets say MacD, Starbucks and some expensive restaurants have a association against food theft. Will they arrive at a average cost of theft or loss. They can't.

    If I steal a Burger that costs $1, I can be made to pay $1+fine for trouble (to owner and society, not association of restaurants).
    If I download 1 song that cost$1 at apple online music store, I can be made to pay $1+fine for trouble.

    How can it come to $750, because the congress is in the pocket of corporates.
    This amount reminds me of days when a Black man would be put in jail for sitting on a bench for Whites. US copyright law is same as apartheid laws and must be repealed.

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