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Piracy The Almighty Buck The Courts Your Rights Online

Considering a Fair Penalty For Illegal File-sharing 728

Posted by timothy
from the if-there-is-such-a-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt, following up on yesterday's announcement of the 1.5 million dollar verdict against Jammie Thomas: "This week a federal jury handed down the verdict in the third file-sharing trial against a Minnesota mother of four who has been fighting against the charges brought by the RIAA since 2005. Understandably, a lot of people are outraged by this verdict and while reading through comments about the fine on some online forums, I saw some interesting opinions on how these fines should be assessed. The point that $62,500 per song is excessively high seems to be something that everyone can agree on, but what actually is fair seems to be a big point of contention."
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Considering a Fair Penalty For Illegal File-sharing

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  • Hang on... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:40PM (#34143200)

    No monetary figure will be fair. Choosing any amount will allow those rich enough to simply ignore the law.
    The only fair way to make it is if anyone (person, organisation or company) commits copyright infringement they are
    financially ruined and bankrupted. That is the only way such a law can be equally fair to everyone. Yes its unfair but
    it is equally unfair to everyone and not just the poorer people.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TFAFalcon (1839122)

      The rich will still be able to afford enough lawyers to make sure they never loose if they are ever sued for infringement.

    • Re:Hang on... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kenneth Stephen (1950) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:55PM (#34143324) Journal

      Thats not the way the justice system is supposed to work: the punishment must fit the crime. For example, one could mandate the death penalty for something like littering in order to deter even the rich from littering. This would certainly meeting the criteria of being equally unfair to everyone, but it isn't justice. Justice is about being fair to everyone - not the opposite.

      • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:21AM (#34146532) Homepage Journal

        Justice is about being fair to everyone - not the opposite.

        This isn't about justice.

        Tort law is about activity that does harm to one party, but does not rise to the level of criminal activity. The law in these sorts of cases is not seeking "justice" in the Old Testament, evil-deeds-must-be-punished way. It's seeking redress for a harm that has been done, not assigning guilt. When Chemical Co. X dumps pollutants into the river in violation of state law and gets sued into making payments to the victims, unless the company was criminally negligent, the goal is to assign a dollar value to the harm and essentially fix the harm. Sometimes a harm is so massive (children born with birth defects, for example) that assigning a monetary value to it seems repugnant, but it's the only practical means of efficiently obtaining resolution.

        Generally speaking, plaintiffs don't go after those who can't pay. That's why in an airplane crash or building structural failure or similar event you'll hear about plaintiffs suing everyone they can find. They do so so the harms done to them can be redressed by someone; they don't really care whom. Again, it's not about intent and affixing of moral blame. It's about distributing resources as efficiently as possible, so the aggrieved party can be compensated and future damage can be avoided.

        The damages awarded to a successful plaintiff also serve a signaling function to other parties who might be contemplating the same noncriminal but harmful behavior. The goal is not necessarily to enrich the plaintiff (because, as in this case, the plaintiff will never collect the awarded damages), but to show those who might be tempted to follow in the defendant's footsteps that it's a bad idea to do so.

    • Re:Hang on... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:00PM (#34143392) Homepage
      Choosing any amount will allow those rich enough to simply ignore the law.

      You have inadvertently re-invented the US judicial system. Bad AC, bad!
    • by 0111 1110 (518466)

      How about torturing and killing not only the accused but every member of their extended family currently living within the US? As well as their friends and their friends' families. Would that be fair enough for you? Or for audio material you could surgically remove their eardrums and cilia or any other procedure that would make them permanently deaf. For sharing visual media you could also remove their eyes with a fork and make them eat them. You wouldn't have to imprison them. Once they are blind and deaf

    • Re:Hang on... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flyneye (84093) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:10PM (#34144204) Homepage

      No monetary figure will be fair because it is sound. Sound is naturally free. The music industry has finally hit the wall of nature. Good!
      Song is the reward you get for writing music.(Also natural) Performing music is work and should be rewarded fairly. This assures worthy musicians a chance to make a living.
      No industry is required for this scenario. A parasite clinging to musicians and sucking the life and music out of them while holding the world hostage to the artificial taste of music derived by its ability to be sold by the current marketing dweebs is not natural.
      Nature is killing the music industry. The only humane thing to do is to euthanize it by cutting off its flow of income. Carry on , as you were.
      In any revolution, there are casualties. Perhaps organizing a little off the books fund to help this family get new identities and escape an undeserved fate by legalese.
      Meanwhile others will suffer while we allow this monster to live.
      Quit paying for music. Period.

  • Ill gotten gains (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:41PM (#34143214)

    Let the convicted turn over the proceeds from their crime to the victim. Problem solved.

    • by IB4Student (1885914) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:49PM (#34143252)
      This, plus 10% or something.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      So I steal your car, sell it for $50, and that's all you want back?

      Fine.

      Have fun living in a world with that sort of economic balance.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yaa 101 (664725)

        No, if you copy my car and give it away, there is a distinction between the 2.

  • Any more stupid questions?

  • I'll give it a shot. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:47PM (#34143238)

    Maximum of $50/song with a maximum total cap of $50,000. And there should be a sliding scale based on the actual amount of data transferred. So someone who accidentally shares their music library for a couple days doesn't get the same penalty as someone who seeds torrents on their company's 100mbit tube for a year.

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:06PM (#34143454)

      not based on a per-song basis. charge what the songs cost on a retail (or equiv) basis. there shold NOT BE A MULTIPLIER EFFECT going on.

      that's the problem people keep missing.

      remove this multiplier crap. that does not work and there is no 'pay a higher pentalty' for having an album's worth of songs vs just 1.

      if the act is wrong, punish the act.

      they don't lock you up for shoplifting based on how many POUNDS of material you stole. or what its square yardage is. why are people so willing to accept the per-song penalty multiplier?

      songs cost what they cost (lets save that for another debate). if I 'stole' 10 songs and they go for a dollar each, that's $100. and yes, for a regular person, that's a lot of money and will make them think twice about doing this again (or rather, getting caught). but it will NOT ruin them for life with lawyer bills and riaa bills.

      no multiplier for songs. get that solved right off.

      the actual penalty is a fixed amount. I don't care what that is, but at least its the same amount and one that can at least be rationally discussed.

      • by way2trivial (601132) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:23PM (#34143660) Homepage Journal

        they don't do it by pounds

        there sure as shit do it by value of goods
        my state for example
        value of goods- law charged
        0-200 dollars of value- it's misdemeanor shoplifting
        200-500 fourth degree
        500-75 thousand, third degree
        shoplift 75 thousand or more, get second degree

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          how is 'song count' going to make you sorrier when you did NOT click the 'do not share' button next to each song?

          is this really a linear function? is the person supposed to stay in jail longer for having more songs in his up/download share folder?

          what if some songs are out of print? you can't buy them.

          what about side-effect sales; someone uploads a song and this causes others to become fans of the band and buy tickets and tee shirts next time they are at a concert.

          this is just too complex to be any kind o

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Not quite, there is an increase in penalty when it becomes grand theft. But in general it's based upon the value of the goods, and generally speaking they aren't letting the person who was robbed determine the value. It's typically a standard appraisal if a known value isn't already possessed.
    • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:08PM (#34143488)
      Maximum of $50/song with a maximum total cap of $50,000.

      What if I make $100 per song selling your songs, and you lose $500 in sales because I undersold you? Still $50/song then?

      So someone who accidentally shares their music library for a couple days...

      Should not be in court at all, since there is no intent to commit a crime or violate copyright.

      ... someone who seeds torrents on their company's 100mbit tube for a year.

      Is showing an explicit intent to both violate copyright by copying AND distributing, and since it is torrent, is probably profiting in some other way (getting files in exchange that he would otherwise have to pay for).

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        What songs cost $100?

      • by wrook (134116) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:39PM (#34144420) Homepage

        This is the main point. Copyright infringement is not a crime. Repeat after me: "Copyright infringement is not a crime". It is a civil matter.

        There should be no automatic court imposed penalty because it is not a crime. It is a civil matter. If the complainant wishes to sue for punitive damages then they can. Otherwise, the court should award based on damages. How those damages are calculated is dependent upon the suit.

        The problem here is that the RIAA's team of lawyers successfully argued that their damages were in the $1.5 million range. I don't agree with them. Many people don't agree with them. But the court decided otherwise. It's too bad.

        Should we have a cap on damages? Hell no! Why would we? If you burn down my house, but you are an otherwise nice person I should still be able to sue you to replace my house. Even if you did it by accident. Burning down my house by accident is not a crime. I'm not punishing you. I'm trying to replace my house.

        Copyright infringement that is done by accident can also create damages. You *should* be able to sue for those damages. If I am an author and send a book to a publisher then I can reasonably expect to be paid. If in some incredible fluke of the universe the publisher distributed my book by accident but didn't receive any money for it, I *should* be able to sue them -- even though it was an accident. There shouldn't be one law for businesses and another for ordinary people; even if those ordinary people are very nice people.

        It is reasonable to assume that someone seeding a file for a few hours does less damage than someone seeding at high speed for a year. IIRC though, the RIAA has argued that the distribution of one file is equivalent to the distribution of multiple copies -- because then others can further distribute the files. This is a ridiculous argument -- I can be held responsible for my own actions, but not for the actions of others. I think this is the basis for the huge award and it is just as wrong as having a cap on the award.

        Arguing for a cap on penalties runs right into the arms of the RIAA. They *want* to make copyright infringement a crime so that they don't have to pursue damages themselves. They can sick the police on people instead. Creating a fine based system enables their logic.

    • by EdIII (1114411) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:20PM (#34143620)

      50k?

      It does not matter what anyone comes up with. Truly. The fact is, even without the current Great Depression we are in, that the average amount of savings and assets that people have is FAR less than what any judgement will award, even one that may be considered fair like 50k. Additionally, garnishments (which means more resources used by the RIAA to setup) are determined by judges, not the RIAA. So that 1.5 million dollar judgment can sit there for next 2,500 years being paid off at $50 per month because that is what the judge feels you can reasonably pay.

      For the vast majority of people though this means bankruptcy. To my knowledge, very few types of debt and judgments are not exempt from bankruptcy. With the MAFIAA's death grip on congress that most certainly can change though, but will still ultimately be unproductive.

      Bankruptcy is not necessarily the end of the world either. It will hurt your credit for sure, but you cannot be forced to pay them off with a credit card, and you can choose what debt to pay on an ongoing basis the last time I checked. So even during and after bankruptcy you can continue paying your credit card bill or your car payment without penalty.

      People can cash their paychecks directly for cash, prepay credit card balances, set up automatic payments to utilities the day after their ACH deposit is made, prepay utilities, etc. There are dozens of different ways to escape judgments.

      Ironically, the rich are even better at it, and less likely to be hit with a copyright infringement judgment. Why torrent, and file share, and all that nonsense when you can spend hundred or thousands of dollars per month at $1 per track buying music through easy to use, virus free, interfaces? Stupid child gets their rich parents hit with a judgment? Good luck. Deep pockets are more often that not very well protected pockets. The RIAA would probably get a settlement for 5k-10k, but 1.5 million from somebody truly rich? Doubtful.

      What I find so funny about this, is that the average RIAA target is probably being nudged towards bankruptcy anyways with all the bullshit going on right now.

      The discussion on /. usually steers towards what is fair and right, but I don't see pragmatism. Unless the fine itself is less than $1,000 it might as well be $1 billion.

  • I rest my case

  • 1000 dollars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:53PM (#34143306) Homepage Journal

    flat fine for non profit use sharing. Its enough to make people think twice and not destroy their lives.

    Now, if you are selling advertising, or songs making a profit in any way, it should be based on the specific event. Fox using a song in a movie should be fined more then a person who sold a song for a dollar.

    Only for distribution, downloading can not be make illegal. You can not expect consumers to be responsible for the crimes of the merchant.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)
      Only for distribution, downloading can not be make illegal. You can not expect consumers to be responsible for the crimes of the merchant.

      Exactly what crimes has the merchant committed if someone rips a CD they bought from him and makes the content available for download?

      The ripper has copied and distributed the content illegally. The downloader has copied it illegally. But the merchant? What has he done?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by geekoid (135745)

        by merchant, I mean anyone financially profiting in the sale good or services.

        Yeah, my wording could have been better. My point is, if Best buy broke a contract with Sony, Sony can't come into your house and take your TV away.

        In this case, the merchant is the person profiting from distributing material they don't have the right to.
        FYI:
        MERCHANT, n. One engaged in a commercial pursuit. A commercial pursuit is one in which the thing pursued is a dollar.

  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:54PM (#34143312)
    This is the fairest method I can think of:

    1. Find out how many people obtained the song from that source
    2. Find out that given a set of X people, what percentage would have purchased the song - this is the difficult part, but I'm sure you could aggregate data from online purchasing sites or something. Or even better - grab a bunch of people from the street - give them a pre-decided price, ask them whether the song is worth X dollars.
    3. This person pays for the copies of the people would have purchased it otherwise. If its one of those 99 cent songs on itunes, then he probably won't be paying much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sayfawa (1099071)
      That's pretty fair, if a bit complicated. But even if the jury and judge came to the decision that *every* person who got their copy of the song from her would have bought it if she personally hadn't been seeding it and decided to make her penalty 99 cents for every song she seeded times the number of uploads, that would still be far more reasonable than the bullshit they handed her.

      Even if we take the "low" fine of $54,000, that's $2,250 per song. So what, she uploaded each song over 2000 times? What cra
  • That is pretty much how much they cost when buying from Amazon or iTunes. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.
  • by Kethinov (636034) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:57PM (#34143350) Homepage Journal

    The fairest penalty is no penalty. We need to end the war on sharing by legalizing noncommercial copyright infringement. I know this is not a popular view. But this stalemate can't last forever. One side has to win. Either piracy or anti-piracy will win.

    Given a choice between the two, I choose piracy. Because if anti-piracy wins, the resultant changes to internet policy and enforcement would be something straight out of dystopian science fiction. All data transmitted across the internet would have to be monitored and checked for copyright violations. It would require aggressive internet filtering and surveillance on a scale that makes the Great Firewall of China look like child's play. 1984 was not supposed to be a guidebook...

    Moreover, there's plenty of evidence that it's possible to run a content business on the internet without charging per digital download. Plenty of people do it. In short: yes, you can compete with free.

    Legalize file sharing by legalizing noncommercial copyright infringement. It's the only way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Un pobre guey (593801)
      What is a download? Is a $0.99 song a download that would be OK to "pirate?" What about a video game that cost a company $50 million to create? If it was legal, why would anyone buy it instead of "pirating" it? Who would pay for its production? What incentive would there be to create any but the most trivial digital content?

      Has it occurred to you that you are proposing the destruction of the value of human labor on a massive scale?
      • by cptdondo (59460)

        Nope. You pay for service. So get the game for free, but unless you register and pay you don't get the live feeds that make it fun, or take you to the next level, or whatever.

        I buy my music simply because I find Amazon easier to deal with than many of the pirate sites. I get what I want with a minimum of effort; that's worth a buck.

        Make it more convenient to pay than to pirate, and it will work out. Right now it's more convenient to pirate than to pay.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Kethinov (636034)

        Setting aside the fact that a $50 million dollar budget to create a video game might imply inefficiencies in the production costs, there are plenty of alternative models at the disposal of the developers.

        They could serve the download for the game for free, but require the downloader to watch a few video ads. Such an ad setup would fetch a lot more of a pretty penny than some stupid adsense site (which they could deploy as well) and you can be sure they'd be bringing in more volume in new customers that they

        • Let's say that on average each ad click-through generated $0.05 (a generous estimate). To get back the $50 million they would need to have 50,000,000 / 0.05 = 1,000,000,000 click-throughs. If they wanted to make that money in the first year, that's over 2,700,000 click-throughs per day, or over 30 per second every single day for a year. Of course, there are no guarantees.

          Your subscription service amounts to selling downloads, so you got nowhere with that one.

          You have not proposed anything particularly r
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by houghi (78078)

        Has it occurred to you that you are proposing the destruction of the value of human labor on a massive scale?

        And nothing of value was lost.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773)

        Has it occurred to you that you are proposing the destruction of the value of human labor on a massive scale?

        Nonsense.

        As an attorney, if I give a client legal advice (e.g. don't murder people), I only get paid for my labor in researching the issue and rendering the advice, and perhaps my costs, such as copies of a written memo given to the client. But if the client then goes on to re-use that advice, by not murdering each person he meets, and goes on to share that advice with other people, I don't keep gett

    • by halowolf (692775)
      Or perhaps we could all win, by not buying the junk they are currently pumping out and not pirating it either. That way bodies like the RIAA might actually have to listen to what the consumer wants and face reality instead of the one they keep on trying to create for us. I know, I know... wishful thinking wont get us anywhere.
    • by McBeer (714119)

      The fairest penalty is no penalty. We need to end the war on sharing by legalizing noncommercial copyright infringement.

      Why would anybody go through the trouble and expense to create quality movies, tv, music, books, software etc if it's legal to just take the end product without paying? Sure, some people will pay out of principle, but if it's perfectly legal most people will just take it. Without funding, I'm sure there will still be hobby projects, but nothing on the scale we currently enjoy.

      To effectively prevent piracy the penalty has to be such that PenaltyAmount * ProbabilityOfGettingCaught > SavingsByPirating. R

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:04PM (#34144154) Journal

        Why would anybody go through the trouble and expense to create quality movies, tv, music, books, software etc if it's legal to just take the end product without paying? Sure, some people will pay out of principle, but if it's perfectly legal most people will just take it. Without funding, I'm sure there will still be hobby projects, but nothing on the scale we currently enjoy.

        People who desire such works will continue to pay for them. If there aren't enough people willing to pay, some things won't get created. And that's OK. If people aren't willing to pay for it, then they don't value it highly, so it's no loss if it's not created.

        To effectively prevent piracy the penalty has to be such that PenaltyAmount * ProbabilityOfGettingCaught > SavingsByPirating. Right now the chance of getting caught is quite low, so the fine has to be quite high.

        See, this is the problem. Any sane system of justice has the concept of proportionality. i.e. the punishment must fit the crime. In the Judeo-Christian ethic, it's expressed as "an eye for an eye". If you start taking a head for an eye, you degrade respect for the entire system of justice. That hurts everyone.

        Perhaps the problem is actually that the *IAA isn't suing enough people. If ProbabilityOfGettingCaught was close to 1, the PenaltyAmount could be quite close to the actual value of the item pirated

        The only way to approach a 1:1 chance of getting caught is to track every single bit of data that goes over the network. This would be worse from a civil rights perspective (4th amendment) that we'd be better off just banning computers entirely. Either way, without computers, or burdened with an incredibly costly surveillance infrastructure we'd be at a significant economic disadvantage.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773)

        Why would anybody go through the trouble and expense to create quality movies, tv, music, books, software etc if it's legal to just take the end product without paying? Sure, some people will pay out of principle, but if it's perfectly legal most people will just take it. Without funding, I'm sure there will still be hobby projects, but nothing on the scale we currently enjoy.

        Okay.

        A work doesn't have to be expensive to make, or have high production values, in order to be good. Shakespeare had fewer actors t

    • by Obfuscant (592200)
      The fairest penalty is no penalty. We need to end the war on sharing by legalizing noncommercial copyright infringement.

      Then exactly what incentive does the distributor (or author) have to produce anything, if he knows that as soon as the first CD/DVD/whatever shows up in the stores someone can simply copy the material digitally and put it up for free download to everyone else?

      Yes, I know, there are some artists who fly the flag and give out their material for free already. There are a lot more who don't

    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:33PM (#34144392) Homepage

      I would tweak this slightly, and say that we should legalize (or at least make non-actionable) otherwise infringing behavior when it is non-commercial and engaged in by natural persons, but aside from that, I agree with you.

      And let's all remember that there is solid proof that this is viable: Until 1710, and then only in England, copyright didn't exist, people could copy works freely (assuming that the state didn't engage in censorship of those works, a separate issue), yet plenty of creative works were created. All the works of classical Greece and Rome, all the works of the Renaissance, all the plays of Shakespeare (which were themselves almost all unauthorized adaptations of earlier works, and subject to piracy), were created without the benefit of copyright.

      Copyright might be useful, but it is not necessary. And if it ceases to be useful -- that is, if it ceases to provide a greater benefit to the public than the harm it causes -- it should be fixed, or failing that, abandoned.

  • by davidwr (791652)

    For adults doing it for personal use who can't be bothered to pay for what they buy:

    I would go with a civil penalty of 1x the retail cost of the songs, along with a no-jail-time misdemeanor criminal penalty at the discretion of the prosecutor for 2nd time offenders and those who are clearly doing it as a means of civil disobedience. Criminal charges would only work if prosecutors were protected from pressure from the record companies. Otherwise the criminal justice system becomes an arm of the recording i

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:58PM (#34143366)
    I should point out that I am an American citizen and have served on juries before. My comments are specific to the US legal system and may not be applicable to that of Canada, the UK, and other countries.

    Having served on a couple of US juries I can assure you all that juries can contain people who are technologically illiterate. The last time I served on a jury, which was 5 years ago, I was shocked when 3 or 4 guys on the jury basically got into a contest to see who could claim to be the stupidest when it came to technology. I have never seen anything like this in my life, but these guys took turns trying to top each other and convince everyone on the jury that they were the stupidest person there was when it came to technology. There were exactly 2 people out of 13 (1 was an alternate) who had an IT background and I was one of those.

    So on top of having people with weak to non-existent technology skills you may run into these people who see the world in black and white and want to punish evil doers. We had one of those on my jury. They tend to always be biased against defendants and want to apply the harshest sentence possible. I've read about this woman's various trials and she has had very poor lawyers and on top of that, jurors reported that they were sure she had lied in court and was completely guilty of the charges. I think she's a nut job who thinks she can beat the charges. So considering all of that, I can't say I'm surprised she got screwed with a fine she can never pay. Her life will be ruined as even thought the RIAA knows they'll never get the full amount, they can garnish her wages forever.
    • by santax (1541065)
      It's funny you say that about the not-so-tech juries. Here we look upon citizens juries with precisely the same in mind. How can one person that is not trained for it, every be in place that he can convict someone. It's no problem that they aren't tech-savvy. It IS however a problem that they don't know shit about crime and/or law. That should be you concern.
      • by santax (1541065)
        every=ever
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CodeBuster (516420)

        It IS however a problem that they don't know shit about crime and/or law.

        Having also served on juries in the United States before, I feel compelled to point out that the three primary benefits to jury trials. First, you are judged by a jury of your peers and not simply by members of the professional legal class who may or may not fully appreciate the circumstances of each individual's life situation. Second, by creating a pool drawn from the public by random lot and serving only for a brief period of time (1 case every 5-10 years or so on average) the potential for bribery and c

    • by EdIII (1114411) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:36PM (#34143852)

      Her life will be ruined as even thought the RIAA knows they'll never get the full amount, they can garnish her wages forever.

      A lawyer is welcome to correct me, but wage garnishment cannot inherently survive a bankruptcy. A garnishment is against a specific judgment, and I know of very few types of debts and judgments that are not set aside after bankruptcy is finalized. Moreover, bankruptcy is fast becoming a way of life anyways. It is not the end of the world though. At most, it affects your ability to obtain lines of credit in the future.

      Considering our collective experience with Wall Street and the financial institutions in general in the last 5 years I support a complete fucking revolt. It's not a sustainable way of life to gradually increase debt on your existing credit lines with no way to pay it back. We are all better off becoming much smarter consumers of financing anyways.

      As for the garnishments? Hardly the end of your life. The judge determines this, NOT the RIAA. That is important to remember. Just about every other type of bill is going to have a higher priority. Child support payments, alimony, etc. More than likely, the judge is going to give them $25 to $50 per month for the average person. Very few people now have hundreds or thousands of dollars of truly disposable income at the end of the month.

      It's not like the RIAA will obtain a garnishment that results in children going hungry or unfed.

      What's even more tragic for the RIAA, and the person of course, is that garnishments are only good for your current place of employment. For people that are drifting around from minimum wage job to minimum wage job, the RIAA could easily spend more administrating the judgment, than collecting on the judgment.

      All things being considered, the RIAA might get billions of dollars worth of judgments, but find themselves deeply in the red when they total up all the lawyer fees, court fees, service fees, etc.

  • Don't distribute copyrighted material on the internet without permission?

    When you do, don't purger yourself and destroy the evidence after you receive a subpoena.

    When you lose, but there is another offer on the table, seriously consider taking it; particularly if you've puregerred yourself and destroyed evidence.

    Don't claim your innocence and disregard your responsibility after you've puregerred yourself and destroyed evidence.

     

  • Based on the MPAA marketing that piracy is theft, then the punishment should obviously be what it is for stealing a copy of that item.

  • I think we can all agree that copyright infringement to make a profit needs high damages. People who are copying a video and then selling those copies on the streets deserve a high penalty to offset all the in-gotten-gains and compensate the copyright owners for the lose of sales (since people actually bought the item, possibly thinking it was legit). I think those damages can actually stay were they are to be honest with you. However, for personal use, and non-profit, it should probably be capped at 10-20x
  • The RIAA stops suing people, but continues keeping an eye on filesharers. People who are found not to distribute files get loyalty incentives like early listens to new albums, a couple free tracks every month, front-of-the-line privileges for concert tickets, all that kind of stuff. People who the RIAA does see distributing aren't punished, but they're locked out of all these cool little freebies.
    It's a clearly imperfect idea, but while we're brainstorming here, why not consider an option that's all carrot
  • Pretty simple. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:08PM (#34143480) Homepage

    No possibility to sue, put a small levy on blank media. Problem solved, works good pretty much everywhere in the world it's done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Except that doesn't stop anything (See: Canada)

    • by sxeraverx (962068)

      Except there is already a tax on recordable media (CDs and the like). The problem is that they want to end copyright infringement, and profit from it too. The tax on blank CDs exists because of the implication that they will go to copying music. But for some reason, that doesn't explicitly or implicitly give you license to actually do the copying. I'm all for the tax, so long as it gives me blanket permission to do whatever I want with the CDs.

  • Compensate the owners for what they actually lose. So if a song brings in (say) $10k a year the total revenues, after actual costs, that the owners get should be a fair percentage of what they made - 50% would be a good place to start. However, that 50% should be the damages from ALL the filesharers together who were found guilty of sharing that one song during the year in question. Now I realise that would give the copyright owners no incentive to go after any more than one person, but that one person may
    • by Haedrian (1676506)
      Yes but what about the gains?

      What about the people who get a copy of the song X illegally from a friend, and decide that they like the group and decide to support them? It will not have been the first time that this happened - and for 'smaller' bands, its how they would actually function - through the social aspect. I know a band which actually threw a huge amount of songs as free downloads on their site - are they losing money because of it? In the long run, perhaps not - because aside from giving people a
  • But, if the material that has been copied is a cover version, then the damages should go to the original author, not the person that recorded a cheap, easy knockoff.

  • The song penalty should be about the same as the record companies are hit with when they rip off their artists.

  • Since there is no accurate way (not even remotely) to determine how many lost sales there were from sharing a song I'd say it's utter nonsense to base a fine on that.

    A fixed fine per song seems the most fair to me. Considering I can purchase songs online for a dollar or less I'd say the fine per song should be somewhere in the lines of 2 to 5 dollar tops.

    Both the industry as the legal institutions have to get out of their caves. The world has changed, movies, albums, songs don't have the status anymore they

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:22PM (#34143650)

    The fine for DUI is less and that is with all the fess added together.

    even hitting a road worker in a work zone is a MAX fine of like $10,000 so how can file sharing HAVE A FINE THIS HIGH?

    Hell you can shop lift cd's and pay like a max fine of $500

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      hitting a road worker in a work zone is a MAX fine of like $10,000 so how can file sharing HAVE A FINE THIS HIGH?

      Ah, see, here's your problem: that road worker forgot to donate millions of dollars to legislators. A common mistake. Better luck next time.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:44PM (#34143938) Journal

    Multiply the number of times the song was downloaded from her by the nominal wholesale price of the song in the marketplace.

    That's compensatory. It's all the actual revenue the record company lost.

    Triple it to get punitive. That's an arbitrary rule that courts use, but it seems reasonable and customary.

    This horseshit about tens of thousands of dollars per incident is a ludicrous abuse of the legal system, and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Haedrian (1676506)
      That assumes that:

      1. Every person who downloaded it was going to purchase it for the price at that period of time.
      2. If she was unable to spread the file, every person who downloaded it would have purchased it.
      3. That by spreading the file, no extra profit was generated due to popularity increase or whatever

      That's the biggest problem. The 14 year old kid who uses his parents' internet connection to download gigabits of mp3s, would probably not have purchased any of them.
  • by Lukano (50323) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:27PM (#34144342)

    I am likely late to the game/thread, but this whole situation stinks of big-money shilling. There's no way that this could have continued past 3 appeals and still have come up with 7+ digits in settlement. As far as I'm concerned, this smacks of the Jammie case being a corporate shill in order to further the RIAA/MPAA agenda. Using such an example they can prove that a relatively innocent individual can be found guilty of 5-digit-per-track-$ infringeemnt, while still appearing to have undergone 'due process'.

    It stinks, it's rotten, and it smells.

    I'm not sure why anyone is buying this?!

    (well, outside of corporate US funded media / astroturfing / shills that is....)

  • $1 per song (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:33PM (#34144386) Homepage

    That is the revenue they missed out on, that is what they should get. I understand this isn't a deterrent, but even $5-20 per song is a 500%-2000% penalty. Quite enough in my book.

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