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Music Piracy The Courts

Limewire Being Sued For 75 Trillion 545

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-a-lot-of-zeros dept.
DarthVain writes "13 record companies are trying to sue Limewire for $75 Trillion. The NYC judge in the case thinks it is 'absurd'. Its almost like these media companies are their worst enemy trying to make themselves look ridiculous. From the article: "The record companies, which had demanded damages ranging from $400 billion to $75 trillion, had argued that Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act provided for damages for each instance of infringement where two or more parties were liable. For a popular site like Lime Wire, which had thousands of users and millions of downloads, Wood held that the damage award would be staggering under this interpretation. 'If plaintiffs were able to pursue a statutory damage theory predicated on the number of direct infringers per work, defendants' damages could reach into the trillions,' she wrote. 'As defendants note, plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877.'"
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Limewire Being Sued For 75 Trillion

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  • PR Stunt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @02:45PM (#35590834)
    They're just trying to show the public how much "lost revenues" "pirating" has cost them.
  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @02:53PM (#35590970)

    ...making the absurd assumption that everyone who hosts a song on a P2P network is somehow costing them ...

    No. Damages are not awarded based on what it *costs* the RIAA and media companies. This isn't a contract case (which would be closer to that model). This is based on a statutory damage award, where the statutory damages are hugely inflated. The theoretical reason they are inflated is to discourage people from pirating, and to make it worthwhile to enforce copyrights. Obviously those rationales don't apply when you're dealing with limewire to the extent they do when dealing with an individual defendant--as a result, the statute is ridiculous in this case. Unfortunately, there isn't a constitutional provision that laws have to make sense. It would be an interesting argument that money damages this high constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" of a corporation, but almost certainly wouldn't actually get you anywhere.

  • Re:75 trillion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shikaku (1129753) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:00PM (#35591084)

    *facepalming so hard, I might push through my face*

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:00PM (#35591086) Homepage

    Stop blaming the RIAA for this stupidity. The law lists a fixed amount of statutory damage per infringement. So their calculations are correct. Even though the RIAA lobbied for these stupid laws, the ultimate blame lies with the "representatives" who voted for it.

    I would just love one of these Senators, or their family members, to get hit with one of these lawsuits. As long as they are above the law they can pass this crud without fear.

  • by The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:06PM (#35591200)

    The real thing harming music companies (and radio) is the internet and the fact you can access almost anything at anytime you desire. Maybe they should try suing that. (LOL)

    Obviously they have no grip on reality, so please stop giving them additional stupid ideas. If they think suing Limewire for $75 trillion is rational, obviously the internet, as a whole, must be worth exponentially more money. When this happens and they shut down the internet, I'm blaming YOU.

  • Re:PR Stunt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:24PM (#35591474)

    Nope. They're used to it.

    For the longest time, there were two things teenagers spent their allowance on: Fashion and music. And for 50% of the teens, the male portion, it was mostly music for the longest time in our last half decade. Everything else was covered by your parents, wasn't it?

    That changed a decade or so ago. Computer games ain't exclusively a geek pastime anymore and neither are game consoles. Cellphones compete as well, having become an important part of our teens' interests. And with them a lot of new gadgets and services vie for the allowance of our teens. They simply don't have that much money to spend on music anymore.

    The music industry doesn't care. It's worked in the past and it has to work today. They react very slowly and often wrongly to the changing markets of today, and now they blame their customers, and rather than offering me a product that I'd want to buy, they react in such a way that the bought item is worth less to the consumer than the one ripped (for reference, see crippling copy protection and unskipable ads).

    What the content industry fails to see with such lawsuits is that the "shock and awe" effect is worthless with their target audience. A teenager can neither imagine the amount of a million nor a trillion dollars. It's just "a lot". And whether you try to sue him for either or for just 40k nets you the same outcome, he cannot pay either, so he doesn't care.

    Punishment, and its severity, has never worked as a deterrent. Or do you think the average train of thought of a burglar is "for 5 years I'll do it, but for 10 I'll rather not rob them"?

  • by Khopesh (112447) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:30PM (#35591554) Homepage Journal

    I strongly approve.

    The RIAA assumes that each copy of each song is worth a dollar and is independently covered by copyright violation fines. This couldn't be farther from the truth. People end up with freely obtained music that they would never (in any world) pay for. Separately, the immature behavior of the RIAA (primarily their scare tactics and markup) couples with the enormity of copyleft content now freely available to spell a significantly reduced value (supply and demand). We're heading towards a new media paradigm [khopesh.com] that just doesn't have room for the RIAA.

    I think by calculating the value as perceived by the RIAA, we have this on display for all to see. The press and the courts will have no choice but to see this for the fear-mongering death flails of a dying industry.

    Talk about shooting themselves in the foot — they may have just blown off their whole leg — and the ground they stood on.

  • Re:75 trillion (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:36PM (#35591630)

    And stop spamming Dropbox in your goddamn signature, you fucking fuck.

  • by Chowderbags (847952) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:45PM (#35591748)
    Even more accurately, $75 trillion is the GDP of the whole fucking planet. Even $400 billion is more than the GDP of Belgium.

    The only thing I can possibly assume is that they'll try to act like they're really hurting to "only" sue for a few tens of billions, then when they don't get paid, they'll find some way to write it off on their tax returns for the next INTEGER_OVERFLOW years so that they won't have to pay a cent of taxes ever again. Heck, they might come crying to the government saying that their balance sheets show a loss of trillions of dollars, so they need a bailout. I so very much want to see a judge listen to their entire argument very calmly, then just chuckle.
  • Re:75 trillion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:46PM (#35591762) Journal

    I think the only proper reaction to such an idiotic figure would have to be this one [roflposters.com]

    That said I'm personally all for this, as the more complete idiocy and court wasting the *.A.As do the more likely we are to wake up the average Joe from their slumber and get them to realize what a total fucking joke the copyright system has become. I mean for the love of Pete Walt Disney's first works are STILL under copyright and the man has been a corpse for longer than many of us have been on this earth.

    Now how in the hell does that promote "progress of the arts and sciences"? Answer: it doesn't, it is simply a way for a "leecher class" to make eternal checks off locking up the entire culture of a race. How many works have already been lost simply because nobody could legally make a copy and the copyright holders couldn't figure out a way to "monetize the IP" and just let it rot?

    As someone who has tried dealing with the minefiled that is copyrights (had an idea with an engineer friend of mine to have "DOSbox...on a stick" where we would take rare old DOS games and have them preprogrammed to run on a USB stick, no muss, fuss, or hassle, run the games anywhere on any hardware) I can tell you that many of the "IP" is forever locked in a maze of dead companies and murky rights and the few we actually found would rather the games be lost forever than to get less than 80% or 6 figures for a game that frankly wasn't even a third stringer, which means that by the time the copyrights on these early games expire in another 80 years or so all copies will have long since been lost forever.

    How does this enrich us as a culture? How does this help us preserve our history? We need to go back to the original 25 years and have a "use it or lose it" clause where if you don't sell a product for three years after release it goes PD so that we aren't losing our history as what is happening now. And it isn't just games, rare old bootlegs and artist's early demo releases before they made it big, early show and movies that some now defunct studio couldn't figure out how to monetize ALL of these things are being lost on a daily basis because of nothing but sheer greed by the leecher class and it needs to end.

    Lenin says "a capitalist will gladly sell you the rope with which to hang him" and let's hope the greed of these leechers will help to destroy the bloodsucking business they've created. Because as it is our entire culture is being locked behind paywalls and anything the lecchers can't figure a way to make buckets of cash on is left to die, and it is frankly disgusting and wrong.

    And sorry about the length, but as a musician who hopes to make a living plying his trade I find the leechers a disgusting drain and barrier to access to the world. I uploaded the singles from my last 2 bands to P2P and I'll upload this newest one as soon as we get it mastered as we want you to hear us and hopefully come to the shows, by a shirt, hell we'll even put your name in the raffle to win one of our guitars if you buy the CD (which will have a link to download the entire album in MP3 as well as some not released tracks in the liner notes) and I have NO doubt that like my last two bands we'll make damned good money by treating people right instead of dealing with the lechers. Personally the sooner that whole payola system DIAF the better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:36PM (#35592316)

    According to the CIA's World Factbook, $75T is also $0.51T more than the 2010 GDP of the world using its Purchasing Power Parity algorithm. That's $510B short, if _every single dollar made in the entire world_ last year was paid out (including, of course, the record industry's own profits).

    I do wonder, though: if the record industry somehow managed to successfully sue someone for more money than the entire world combined made last year and also magically managed to get payment in full, how much would the artists who made the content under dispute get?

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @05:01PM (#35592580)

    Stop blaming the RIAA for this stupidity. The law lists a fixed amount of statutory damage per infringement.

    Are you serious? The RIAA wrote the relevant laws.

  • by ThePromenader (878501) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @05:02PM (#35592594) Homepage Journal

    The record companies' "losses" == "money we 'could have' made": a falacious argument for many reasons, but even if piracy never existed, how can they claim that every downloader would have gone out and bought a cd?

  • Re:75 trillion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PaladinAlpha (645879) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @08:01PM (#35594202)

    This is an important right. Surely you won't argue that an artist shouldn't have the right to sue to protect their own intellectual property. So what we're talking about here is duration and damages. The way it's setup now -- it's plain to see that the duration is too long and the damages are too high. But that's what courts do: they decide what's appropriate. It doesn't matter what the labels say. Because Limewire probably says they want to go home scot-free with their attorney's fees paid for. How is that any less of a total over-reach? The right answer is some place in-between. And that place will be decided by the courts.

    This could not be more wrong.

    The courts have never extended copyright. They have nothing to do with this. At all.

    All copyright extensions have resulted from legislation, meaning Congress. Which makes the curious inability of copyright to ever expire seem a bit strange.

    Also, I've been waiting my whole life for someone to justify 80+ year copyright terms, in any way at all. That's an open invitation. I'd settle for someone justifying 20+ year terms. In any capacity. My opinion is you can't, because it doesn't make any sense.

  • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:39AM (#35596380) Homepage

    It's actually a lot worse than "money we could have made", because actual sale-price, assuming every downloader would ALWAYS buy the song, is on the order of $1/song.

    Meanwhile, statutory damages for copyright-infringement is between $750 and $30,000 per infringement, at the discretion of the court, but willfull infringement can be up to $150.000.

    These absurd numers is thus the results of claiming up to $150.000 of damages, for a copy that, if legally bought, would have cost a maximum of $1. (and in the real world, offcourse, only a small fraction -would- have bought the same amount of music if copying wasn't possible)

    Claiming "money we could have made" would merely be ridicolous. But they're one-upping that - they're claiming damages equal to 150.000 times what they would have made if everyone bought all the music.

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