by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 14th 2011 6:43am
While we often discuss the rather large conflict between the First Amendment and copyright law in the US, Stephan Kinsella is also wondering if the current statutory damages rates in copyright also violate the Eight Amendment and its prohibition on "excessive fines." I somewhat wonder if that issue will come up in the Jammie Thomas appeal, which will focus heavily on whether or not an award within the statutory damages rates was too high, but I believe the focus there will be more on the Fourteenth Amendment, and whether or not it was a violation of due process. In fact, it seems like most of the Constitutional discussions on statutory rates focuses on the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the Eighth. I'm certainly not a Constitutional scholar (and would love for legal scholars to chime in here), but I believe this is because the courts historically treat these two amendments as related, and effectively argue that the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment is applied via the 14th Amendment on due process when it involves state laws. So I'm not entirely clear why it's also being used on a federal copyright issue -- but I'm sure someone out there will help explain it to us in the comments shortly!
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