Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
It's funny.  Laugh. Sony The Courts

Copyright Troubles For Sony 276

Posted by kdawson
from the billion-here-billion-there dept.
ljaszcza writes "Daily Tech brings us a story about Sony's run-in with the Mexican police. (Billboard picked up the story as well.) It seems that they raided Sony's offices and seized 6,397 music CDs after a protest from the artist, Alejandro Fernandez. Fernandez had signed a seven-album deal with Sony Music; he completed that commitment and then left for Universal. During the time with Sony, he recorded other songs that did not make it into the agreed-upon seven albums. Sony Music took it upon themselves to collect that material and release it as an eighth album. Fernandez claims that he fulfilled his contract with Sony, and residual material belongs to him. Hmm. Precedent from the Jammie Thomas infringement and distribution case gives us $80K per song. Sony vs. Joel Tenenbaum gives $22.5K per song. So 6,397 CDs at an average of 8 songs/CD is 51,176 infringing songs, with (IMHO) intent to distribute. The damages to Fernandez should be $1,151,460,000 using the Tenenbaum precedent or $4,094,080,000 using the Thomas precedent. Seems very straightforward to me."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Copyright Troubles For Sony

Comments Filter:
  • If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meerling (1487879) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:25AM (#29348697)
    You just know they'll find some way to weasel out of it...
    • Re:If only... (Score:5, Informative)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:57AM (#29348855) Journal

      Why does the summary talk about "Precedent from the Jammie Thomas" when this case is in Mexico, while Jammie Thomas was in USA? Precedent's in USA aren't precedents everywhere (how many times this shit has to be told to americans?) and most of other countries actually have sane amount of compensations in copyright infringement cases, unlike USA.

      • Re:If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:04AM (#29348895)

        Why does the summary talk about "Precedent from the Jammie Thomas" when this case is in Mexico, while Jammie Thomas was in USA? Precedent's in USA aren't precedents everywhere (how many times this shit has to be told to americans?) and most of other countries actually have sane amount of compensations in copyright infringement cases, unlike USA.

        RIAA sister organizations around the world actually point to USA and screams "Be more like them!" when trying to roughshod legislation through... so it only seems fair.

        • Fair?

          You must be naive, here.
        • Re:If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by siloko (1133863) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:52AM (#29349109)

          RIAA sister organizations around the world actually point to USA and screams "Be more like them!"

          They can scream all they like they are still only a lobby group and as yet don't have the power to pass legislation in there home countries so the GP is right in pointing out the difference between US law and that in other countries. Suffice to say this may change in due course when Corporatism becomes so embedded globally that industry pressure groups are the dudes signing off on legislation . . . ho hum . . .

          • Re:If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:49AM (#29349417) Journal

            Whatever.

            We all know that Sony will wiggle out of it. Just the same as when the U.S. sued the record-companies for "forming an illegal cartel" and price-fixing CDs from 1990 onward. Although the U.S. could have won that case, the record companies negotiated a deal where they simply returned ~$20 to everyone who asked for a refund. I bet Sony will also weasel a way such that it costs them virtually nothing.

            Corporations have power to make the government decide in their favor. I'm about to drive to JCPenney and demand to know "why did I never receive the 50 dollar mail-in rebate promised when I bought this appliance?" I already know the answer I will receive is "too bad, there's nothing we can do about it," and I'll never see that 50 dollars. Technically that's called illegal advertising of the price (they advertise 150 in the newspaper but I paid 200) and a criminal offense.

            In reality a call to the California AG won't get me anywhere because the AG is bought-and-paid-for by the corporate dollars who put him in office. JCPenney, Sony, et cetera get away with this stuff because THEY own the governments of New York, United States, Mexico, et cetera.

            Sony will weasel its way out just like it always does.

            • If you didn't get your rebate, you're doing it wrong. I have NEVER not gotten a rebate. There have been a few that didn't come through right so I had to call or resend copies.

              Keep copies of everything.
              Set an alarm on Google calendar for when the rebate should be back.
              Call the number or now days check the website to see where yours is.

              If you feel like that's too much work for $50, that's your decision.

              • Re:If only... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @09:27AM (#29350201)
                Fsck that. I *never* consider the 'price after rebate' to be the price. I consider the 'amount of cash I have to hand to the clerk to carry it out of the store' to be the price of an item.

                Why should I loan some retailer $50 of my money, at 0% interest, and then have to jump through hoops to get it back (including sending original copies of documents (receipt) that if *they* lose or claim they never got, then I no longer have the original to prove I have a valid claim)? If the goddamn price is $150, then you accept my $150, and *you* (retailer) fark around getting the other $50 from the manufacturer. If I have to give you $200 to get it out of the store, then as far as I'm concerned, the price is $200.

                So "$175" (out the door, no hoop-jumping) is a better price than"$150 ('after $50 rebate')"

              • by Twanfox (185252)

                Also, to note, if you fail to receive your rebate and have copies of all documents you sent in, you can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

                I accidentally overpaid Comcast once. They got the payment in 2 days, cashed, and I couldn't stop payment realizing it within half a day of it being sent. I had called and called Comcast saying "Refund me, when will it arrive back?" 2 months pass and, while I'm sure the timing is 'coincidental', a day or two after I filed a complaint with the BBB, I bo

            • Re:If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @10:23AM (#29350889)

              You need a system like ours. Here, we pay for political ads with tax money. While this may seem a bit idiotic (hey, pay to get pestered with ads?), the alternative is politicians selling out to corporations for ad money.

              That, in turn, is tightly regulated here and mostly outright illegal with steep fines and a certain ejection from whatever seat you got elected into.

              Personally, I prefer to buy my politicians myself instead of privatizing that.

              • Re:If only... (Score:4, Interesting)

                by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn AT earthlink DOT net> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @12:26PM (#29352773)

                That, of course, makes it quite easy for the parties in power to keep out any new comers.

                Not that the US system makes starting a new party feasible. They just use different techniques.

                It *might* be a trade-off worth making. But lots of parties and Condorcet or Instant-Runoff voting would seem to be a better solution. Also make lying in a campaign speech a criminal offense. (That one's tricky, though. It could so easily be misused. Maybe it isn't worth the danger.)

        • Fair? We're talking copyright here, and you waltz in with some fairy-tale concept...

          Trying to explain the concept of "fair" to a copyright lawyer is like explaining "deadlines" to a programmer. They may understand the theory, but they usually cringe at the idea and think "hell, that may be nice for someone else but it sure can't apply to me!"

          • by russotto (537200)

            Trying to explain the concept of "fair" to a copyright lawyer is like explaining "deadlines" to a programmer. They may understand the theory, but they usually cringe at the idea and think "hell, that may be nice for someone else but it sure can't apply to me!"

            Programmers will understand "deadlines" when customers/clients/bosses understand "requirements freeze". And copyright lawyers _understand_ "fair" just fine, but they don't see what's in it for them.

      • Re:If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Another, completely (812244) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:32AM (#29349021)
        I think the point was that Sony corp. made an official public statement by about what they feel a stolen song is worth, and filed it in court. Even if the case verdict isn't a legal precedent, surely the researched market analysis filed in a foreign court can still be cited as a fair assessment that is endorsed by Sony. (Ok, IANAL, and the case in the U.S.A. was probably some legally-independent entity, completely separate from the Sony-owned company in this case, but it still has to count for something.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by digitalunity (19107)

          I would really like to see what Sony would tell the Mexican court they feel copyright infringement should be worth. I doubt it will ever get that far though.

          I'm sure Sony's view on infringement damages is wildy different when they are the defendants.

          • Re:If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dimeglio (456244) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @08:11AM (#29349527)

            The fact that the police raided Sony is enough to convince me that this will not be like the USA. At least Mexico gives a shit about their artists as individuals. The suit wasn't be a Mexican RIAA but by the artist himself.

            • I guess you've never dealt with Mexican police then.

              This will all be sorted out once Sony gives the right bribe to the right jeffe.
              • I guess you've never dealt with Mexican police then.

                I'll bet Sony has, that's probably who the music execs buy their blow from. I doubt either party would want to end that business arrangement.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by leuk_he (194174)

          "Sony corp. made an official public statement by about what they feel a stolen song is worth"

          No, they never did that. They weasel out of such a statement. They just point out how much the legislation allows them. If they made such a statement the damange could be substantiated and would be more realistic ( like 6 dollar per number instead of a value thousends times higher)

        • Again, pricing is different in various countries. Unless CDs sell for the same price in Mexico, their precedents in the USA aren't even vaguely related.

          Now that said, I don't know what the law is in Mexico and they should be prosecuted for Copyright violation for statutory damages, value per song notwithstanding.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          I think the point was that Sony corp. made an official public statement by about what they feel a stolen song is worth, and filed it in court. Even if the case verdict isn't a legal precedent, surely the researched market analysis filed in a foreign court can still be cited as a fair assessment that is endorsed by Sony. (Ok, IANAL, and the case in the U.S.A. was probably some legally-independent entity, completely separate from the Sony-owned company in this case, but it still has to count for something.)

          On a side note, I think it's totally awesome that Sony has given us such a great example of what the difference is between infringement and theft. :D

      • by nomadic (141991)
        Why does the summary talk about "Precedent from the Jammie Thomas" when this case is in Mexico, while Jammie Thomas was in USA?

        Because most slashdotters aren't very knowledgeable about the law.
      • by Quothz (683368)

        Precedent's in USA aren't precedents everywhere

        Well, sometimes they are. Just as American judges can look to foreign rulings when there's little local precedent, foreign judges will often look to see what's been done in America. Foreign precedents aren't generally binding, except in the case of certain treaties, but they may be used. I agree that the summary overstates the case - it's fun to do the math based off American awards but it shouldn't imply that Mexican courts are bound to it - but use of foreign precedents is not, uh, unprecedented. I doubt

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mauriceh (3721)

        The answer to your question is very simple:
        The USA is insisting that other nations, to continue to trade with the USA, must comply with US copyright and IP laws.
        As a Canadian, we see this tactic engaged regularly.
        By logical extension, if other nations ( especially ones in the North American Free Trade Association, AKA "NAFTA")
        are to be compliant, then the penalties for breach and theft need to be similar.
        Hence the comparisons to the cases where specific fees per song were calculated.

        I believe the historic t

    • by Jurily (900488)

      Like "US law doesn't apply in Mexico"? Yeah, those sneaky bastards always think of something.

    • Well guess who's using their way then, the next time? ^^

      They can only lose. The only winning move, is to declare bankruptcy. (Winning for *us*, but *shhhh*! O:-)

    • by nomadic (141991)
      You just know they'll find some way to weasel out of it...

      Right, because a company as small and underfunded as Sony could never afford to spend a few million dollars for a problem to go away.
    • I bet they again get to "pay" by giving away a few hundred copies of something, or some other "let's print money out of thin air" deal.

  • Some counterpoints (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hitman_Frost (798840) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:25AM (#29348699)

    One point regarding Jammie Thomas. She actually had 2500 illegally obtained tracks on her PC, but was only prosecuted for a handful of them so the $K22.5 I often see bandied around isn't strictly accurate.

    Sony are clearly in the wrong here however. Unless the contracts says music created during those recording sessions, not the songs that reached the final albums. As we haven't seen the contracts I wouldn't like to speculate.

    (Just being the Devil's Advocate, guys.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:55AM (#29348851)

      Another point on the same topic. What the fuck does American precedent have to do with Mexico?

      • by rdnetto (955205) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:15AM (#29348941)

        Hush you! Quit raining on our parade!

      • by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity.yahoo@com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:32AM (#29349313) Homepage

        If any Cd's were to be sold in the US, they are culpable here in the US.

      • Another point on the same topic. What the fuck does American precedent have to do with Mexico?

        I think that courts within and without the US would be aware of Sony's argument in a well publicized case. Perhaps you think "precedent" necessarily implies "legally binding", but it does not.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I don't know anything about Mexican copyright law, but it appears that Sony itself is trying to apply US copyright law to a Mexican citizen in Mexico, which is weird because Sony is a Japanese company.

        In the US, phonorecords are "works for hire". If it's the same in Mexico, Sony has a point.

        Holy shit, I just defended Sony*. Satan asked for a sweater.

        * I was a victim of XCP. If I did to them what they did to me, I'd be in prison.

    • Icorrect advocacy (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      She wasn't CHARGED with those other files.

      If they were to be included in a further lawsuit (which requires the COPYRIGHT HOLDER to start a case, hence not included in this lawsuit), then 80k per track could be put forward as equitable under case law.

      So your spouting is farcical.

    • One point regarding Jammie Thomas. She actually had 2500 illegally obtained tracks on her PC, but was only prosecuted for a handful of them so the $K22.5 I often see bandied around isn't strictly accurate.

      It doesn't matter what she had on her PC - if she wasn't prosecuted for it, it didn't, or at the very least shouldn't have counted towards the reparations she has to pay. Otherwise an accuser could go to court on a single charge they can prove and tack on any number of charges they haven't even tried to prove, and have a person sentenced for all the charges.

    • by russotto (537200)

      One point regarding Jammie Thomas. She actually had 2500 illegally obtained tracks on her PC

      Two objections:

      1) The "illegally obtained" part for those 2500 tracks was not established
      2) Mere possession of unauthorized copyrighted material is not actionable

  • by zlel (736107) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:28AM (#29348721) Homepage
    to feed our musicians again?
  • by beerbear (1289124) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:30AM (#29348739)
    Mexico. United States. Not the same thing.
    • by Instantlemming (816917) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:54AM (#29348847)
      Well, the US seems to think that their rules are to be applied globally, especially when it's about audio/video material...
    • by meist3r (1061628) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:58AM (#29348857)
      Oh whoops
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yariv (1107831)

      It happened in Mexico, but does it mean they can't be sued in the US? Although not directly related, I immediately remembered this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hew_Raymond_Griffiths [wikipedia.org].

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Which brings up something I have always though was stupid: Why didn't we just roll the tanks and take the damned thing? here me out, as it makes sense. Guarding the border is damned near impossible, as the thing is fricking huge, but now look at the border between Mexico and South America, see how tiny that thing is? It would be trivial to guard that. To me it would make a hell of a lot more sense to take that than wasting our time in rough ass countries in the Middle East.

      Hell we got Mexicans pouring thr

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196)

        We already did that sort of thing once.

        That's where the bulk of the Western United States comes from.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:32AM (#29348749)

    Would you, Sony?

  • by cfriedt (1189527) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:42AM (#29348793)

    The chances of being able to sue somebody over copyright infringement in the recording industry are a heck of a lot better than playing the lottery.

    It's like winning 1000 lotteries at the same time! Screw the lottery!

    Time for a career change? I can't sing or dance particularly well, but people can take lessons for that kind of thing.

  • 51576? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wildclaw (15718) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:44AM (#29348799)

    at an average of 8 songs/CD is 51,176 infringing songs,

    Sorry, but you fail. The big companies may be evil, but they aren't stupid. You may only count the 8 songs once. Scratch that. As those song were distributed as one unit, so you can make a good argument for a total count of 1 infringement.

    The reason for the $150,000 number in the law was exactly because it was aimed against large scale infringement like the one we are talking about here, but that has just made it even more effective (cruel and unjust) against small scale distributed infringment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      So that would work out to about $3 per copy of an infringed song, which is roughly triple damages, which, I understand, is typically for wilful infringement.

      The law is reasonable. Applying it to non-commercial infringement isn't.
    • Re:51576? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:02AM (#29348877)

      Counting the 8 songs as 8 units seems appropriate, since that is the precedent from other file sharing cases. Jammie Thomas and Joel Tenenbaum did not get to argue that their shared songs should be counted as a smaller number of albums.

      Which leaves us with $80K per song (Thomas) times 8 or $22.5K per song (Tenenbaum) times 8. That is $640K or $180K. Looks like appropriate damages because this is large scale infringement as you wrote. In the Thomas and Tenenbaum cases I consider it excessive.

      This said, Mexican law counts here and the sums may be much lower. Unless Sony also distributed that CD in the US as well, then Fernandez might want to sue in the US too ;-)

    • Re:51576? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:32AM (#29349027)
      You're forgetting that each copy of a song is potentially a lost sale for the artist.

      Why do you think MediaSentry wanted the connection history from ISPs so they could figure out how many potential copies were made.
      • They printed a given number of CD's, with the intent to sell every last one of them. They have time to wait for them to be sold, too.
        • Agreed. I was pointing out the fallacy that each individual song should be counted as an infringement, not each copy of the song.
    • Re:51576? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann@slashdot.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:46AM (#29349093) Homepage Journal

      There's a more important matter in here. This isn't about unauthorized material reproduction, but unauthorized material reproduction with the INTENT of making a profit.

      Sony's screwed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mushdot (943219)

      But, Sony haven't actually distributed the music. They have merely burnt 6,000 backup copies. That's probably how they will get away with it.

  • by Pitr (33016) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:01AM (#29348867)

    If you have a contract to produce a certain number of albums, but you also sign over ownership of your works during the contract, then the songs you produce during your contract even if they don't make it to an album belong to Sony (or whoever).

    IANAL and it depends on the fine print, but there's a good chance this guy is boned.

    • by rgviza (1303161)

      IANAL, but have studied how record companies and recording contracts generally work. Yes, the only thing Sony would have to pay him is royalties on the copies they sold. When you sign a recording contract, you are signing over the publishing rights to anything you record while under contract, whether or not it gets published. The record company owns the recorded work as well as the right to publish the song as long as Sony filed the copyright, which they probably did, even on the stuff they didn't release.

      T

  • Usually whoever pays the costs of the studio owns the mechanical copyright.
    Although what annoys me about that line of reasoning is that record companies reclaim the recording costs from the artists share of the profit, and so should forfeit any ownership.
    • Usually whoever pays the costs of the studio owns the mechanical copyright. Although what annoys me about that line of reasoning is that record companies reclaim the recording costs from the artists share of the profit, and so should forfeit any ownership.

      No recording company gives away its recording studio time. They would have billed him for it when it came time to calculate his proceeds from the record sales. Part of the "screw the artist" business model.

  • Great! All we need now is the location of the torrent seed.
  • Punishment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:39AM (#29349355)
    While I think ljaszcza's claim of precedent is flimsy, at best, I do hope that Sony is absolutely smashed in court over this. This is _commercial_ piracy. This is piracy-for-profit. If non-commercial piracy between individuals carries penalties of tens-of-thousands of dollars per song then commercial piracy damn well carry a significantly heftier fine. After all, _THIS_ is the sort of thing that copyright law is intended to protect against - someone making money off of someone else's work without their permission. _THIS_ is what the law is supposed to protect against. With a hint of luck, the law will actually do something about it rather than look the other way.

    Wouldn't it be nice if the group involved in drafting ACTA were made aware of this. After all, I'm sure Sony has been involved in "suggesting" elements of the ACTA proposal so I'm sure any punishments they've suggested they would be comfortable with paying...
    • It would be great if there wasn't a high likelihood of Sony having it written in the contract that all songs recorded during that time are their property.
  • I doubt that the precedents set in the mentioned cases can be applied to this case. After all, Sony did not only copy the songs for personal use, they strived to sell them for a profit. In all "copyright piracy" cases I've read about, professional copyright violators were punished in a harshlier way (which seems appropriate).

    Also, let's not forget how bad commercial piracy is:

    Criminal IPR Infringement Commercial scale infringement is the crime of choice for many criminal syndicates, gangs, and organizations, including those in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Thailand, Philippines, South Korea and the USA. Commercial copyright piracy/trademark counterfeiting is a funding source for terrorist groups, like the IRA, Hezbollah, GIA Islamic Network, and Al Qaeda. (from: http://www.aseansec.org/21385-9.pdf [google.com])

  • He completed the contract, and assuming there were no statements indicating any unused material reverted in ownership to Sony, then they (Sony) are in some serious trouble. Having used their weight to press for massive charges with the RIAA over infringement, they now must pay the piper for their own actions--you simply cannot have it both ways; or if I can be allowed to channel Johnnie Cochran for a moment, "If they stole his shit, you cannot acquit!" Loos to me Sony will be forced to pony up. Don't you lo
    • Loo[k]s to me Sony will be forced to pony up. Don't you love it when a draconian law come to bite the creators in the ass? (I do.)

      As with the Merchant of Venice, if you argue for the strictest interpretation of the law when it's in your favor, then your own words should be used against you when you're on the other side.

  • fuck. yeah.
  • Sony says they are totally authorized and in their view, I suppose they are right.

    After all, it is a strict and limited group of people who controls copyrighted material (and indeed, copyrights in general) and Sony is a proud member of the oligarchy. And what they say is authorized must be authorized since they are the ones who usually determine what is and isn't authorized.

  • by ae1294 (1547521) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:43PM (#29356697) Journal

    You guys are missing a key point that shows that Sony is not going to be distorted but they aren't getting off the hook totally ether.

    From TFA:

    Sony announced it was creating an album of Fernandez' previously recorded music, which Universal protested.

    The lawyers over at Universal have already read the contract and while they might know they will loose at trial they are betting Sony will settle...

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

Working...