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Piracy Software The Almighty Buck The Courts

Actual Damages For 1 Download = Cost of a 1 License 647

Posted by timothy
from the that's-refreshing dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Real View v 20-20 Technologies, it was held that the actual copyright infringement damages for a single unauthorized download of a computer program was the lost license fee that would have been charged. The judge, in the District Court of Massachusetts, granted remittitur, reducing the jury's verdict from $1,370,590.00 to $4200 unless the plaintiff seeks a new trial. Something tells me the plaintiff will seek a new trial."
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Actual Damages For 1 Download = Cost of a 1 License

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  • by Edgester (105351) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:32PM (#38549142) Homepage Journal

    Does this mean that there is no cost to infringing on an open source license? If that's true, then there is no penalty to breaking an OSS license. This worries me.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:33PM (#38549154)
    If 10,000 people share a file, and you charge one person for "making available" 10,000 copies, then you cannot penalize those 9,999 other people. Either 10,000 people "made available" 1 file each, or 1 person "made available" 10,000 copies and the other 9,999 are innocent.

    The way the studios have been arguing it, they'd be collecting fines on n^n copyright violations when only n copyright violations occurred.
  • by Ynot_82 (1023749) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:36PM (#38549194)

    The cost of infringing the GPL is the lose of redistribution rights
    This is far more costly than any monetary fine that could be imposed
    Means the infringer has to write their own code, and not mooch off of FOSS

  • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:51PM (#38549336) Homepage Journal

    Punishment != award
    The justice system here in the US will continue to be a farce until the public (and thus the judges they elect and appoint) understands this.
    If you want to punish the perpetrator, do so. Slap a consistent fine for copying on any verdict. BUT DO NOT GIVE THAT FINE TO THE VICTIM. This is what makes the whole US justice system such a joke.

    The victim should get compensated for actual documented losses, neither less nor more. No one should benefit from a crime, neither the victim nor the perpetrator. This is one of the most important principles of Ius Commune, and largely forgotten here in the US, where the justice system has turned into a bloody game; sometimes one with fatal consequences for at least one of the parts, and sometimes both.

  • by gomiam (587421) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:05PM (#38549464)
    As many times as you need to hear that a download doesn't automatically equal a sale.

    Like it or not, protection of a work is needed to keep the creative process going.

    That is false, was false and will keep being false. The only reason we have the second part of "El Quijote" was that someone wrote an apocriphal second part, for example. "Protection of a work" as you call it is needed to keep the intermediaries accumulating money, not the authors: it never was an author protection tool, it isn't now and it will probably never be.

    The lost sale doctrine is fancy talk at the best, by the way. I can't help thinking about poor home to home ice sellers, losing sales because people started buying fridges.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:06PM (#38549480)

    Perhaps you didn't read the fine article.

    The original owner would NOT have sold a license to the competitor. The competitor appears to have deprived the original owner of their LEAD TIME and possibly some sales.

    The competitor allegedly downloaded the software illegally and analyzed it to produce a competing product.

    This helped the competitor save lots of R&D time. And they sold many copies of the resulting competing product.

    Think of it this way. While competitors catch up, you continue to extend your lead. If competitors cheat by illegally downloading and analyzing your software, then you instantly lose your lead which you obtained at substantial cost (possibly loss of income, taking out a mortgage on your home to pay for expenses while you spend a couple years overcoming problems -- and your competitor sees your sales, downloads your code illegally and instantly sees how you've overcome problems they would've taken a long time to solve.)

  • These companies (or at least whichever threw the first legal punch) seem to prefer to battle it out in courts rather than the marketplace. There is also a lawsuit between them about look and feel [senlawoffice.com]. Just taking a wild stab here, but this "unauthorized download" may have been just one company being unsuccessful at being able to purchase their competitor's product (so that they could get some ideas to copy), and downloaded a pirated copy instead.

  • by Xeranar (2029624) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:19PM (#38549602)

    Which has nothing to do with illegal file sharing and everything to do with industrial espionage. 20-20 couldn't prove that Real View stole actual code or reused it in a similar manner which was the crux of their case for loss. On top of that they refused to establish a factual loss due to competition that the product time that they went head-to-head over. I understand the judge setting aside the original verdict's value and I assume 20-20 will appeal but they need to bring something more than what they assume is obvious to the trial. Their expert testimony was lackluster and saying development costs "millions and millions" when you are a seriously established company and have records is just pathetic...

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:46PM (#38550346)
    Actually, German authors made more money than British authors when Brits had copyright and Germans had no effective system. They also wrote more books, and the public had more books. Basically, in Germany, authors got paid bigger advances and their strategy was high volume, low margin. Getting to the market first was very important for them. In Britain, authors got smaller advances, and would depend upon royalties which would rarely if ever materialise, just like today. Books were more of a luxury item in that setting.
  • by Subm (79417) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:53PM (#38550422)

    "The true crux is the immoral and illegal decision to take something without reimbursing the owner."

    You have one measure for morality and legality, but others don't have to share it.

    Gandhi didn't reimburse the legal (British) owner of the sole right to sell salt in India when he sold the salt he got from evaporating sea salt.

    The members of the Boston Tea Party didn't reimburse the owners of the tea.

    I'm not equating this case with those, just pointing out what happens when you have no flexibility in interpreting laws. You end up forced into untenable positions.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:12PM (#38550608) Homepage Journal

    The law is not based on reason, to be honest. The law is based on a mixture of morality, reason, and emotion, salted to heavily with economic influence. It has always been so. From my position in the course of history, it seems that the salt of economic influence was reduced at some point (not removed, merely reduced) but that in recent times, the salt content has been steadily increasing.

    If the law were based entirely on reason, there would be no need for constitutional amendments to be voted on, or for representatives to spend months and years, hammering out details of oppressive crap like ACTA, or SOPA. In both cases, it's apparent that reasonable people are holding out, until the oppressive turds demanding the law cough up enough money to assuage their consciences.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:46PM (#38550936)

    What is horseshit is expecting the punishment should always be the destruction of the copiers life.

    Did you know that when I went to college we used a piece of software that cost $13,000 and had no educational version? A pirate disc went around every year for all the students, with no specific source (I'll let you guess where it originated from). Computers running the software were available in the school, but most students did not live anywhere near campus (as there was very little housing near the campus at the time).

    According to you, those students deserve to be destroyed financially for getting their homework done and trying to actually be useful people. According to you, either the education should have cost $20,000 a year to cover the software (thus meaning no class), or, according to you, we should just not teach the students properly with industry standard tools--they should come out of college ill equipped to handle the jobs they would have been considered. According to you, a welfare state makes sense, because, you see, that company should have made the $13,000 from each student that never existed. Rather, that company should be out of business and the students, well, not being students at all.

    Fortunately, we also don't let the victims set punishments either, except in the case of copyright. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth and all that jazz.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:49PM (#38550962) Homepage

    Check out Autodesk Home Styler [homestyler.com], which is a little hosted Flash-based CAD package for home layout. Autodesk sold a kitchen design program over 10 years ago. There wasn't much volume in that, so now they have a free one, subsidized by having a library of items from major manufacturers.

    It's a nice example of what Flash can really do.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:16PM (#38551706)
    What the ideal model for a modern author isn't all that clear. We've shoved copyright onto most of the world, so the best business model may have not yet arisen yet. It's quite likely that there wouldn't be a publisher at all in said model. The importance of publishers was due to the high costs needed to get a book to a wide audience, while that is far easier to do today.
  • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:22PM (#38551768) Journal

    The members of the Boston Tea Party didn't reimburse the owners of the tea.

    Actually, a delegation of Americans did try to pay for the tea destroyed. They were protesting the tax on the tea, not the tea itself. Their interest was not in damaging the tea merchant.

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