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RIAA Wants $1.5 Million Per CD Copied 408

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Not content with current statutory damages, the RIAA is pushing for higher damages for infringement, damages that would total $1.5 million for copying a CD with ten songs. It's all part of debate over the proposed PRO-IP Act. William Patry, a lawyer who wrote the seminal seven-volume reference on US copyright law, called it the most 'outrageously gluttonous IP bill ever introduced in the US.'"
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RIAA Wants $1.5 Million Per CD Copied

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  • About the author (Score:2, Informative)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:12PM (#22239540)

    William Patry is currently Senior Copyright Counsel at Google Inc. His previous positions include: copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary; Policy Planning Advisor to the Register of Copyrights; Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He is the author of numerous treatises and articles on copyright.
    So, no axes to grind there, right? ;-)

    In other words his current job is work for weak copyright protections.
  • PRO-IP (Score:5, Informative)

    by RobBebop ( 947356 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:29PM (#22239798) Homepage Journal

    This is related to the PRO-IP Act [house.gov] (press released on Dev 5, 2007) that is in Congress. Here is who to blame:

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX), Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ric Keller (R-FL), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Robert Wexler (D-FL) introduced the "Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property ("PRO IP") Act of 2007"

    Here's the "SHOCK AND AWE" value that the industry is using to get people's attention:

    It costs the United States between $200 and $250 billion/year in lost sales, including 750,000 jobs.

    Obviously, any rational thinking individual knows that 750,000 individuals are not "out on the streets" because piracy has taken away the revenue streams necessary for employing them.

    Similarly, *if* $200-250 Billion isn't flowing into the pockets of Imaginary Property companies each year, doesn't that just mean that Americans are free to spend that same money elsewhere? Shouldn't Americans NOT NEED A $150 Billion handout from the government, if they have all this extra money from their copyright infringement?

    Something isn't right...

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:37PM (#22239918) Journal

    Somehow, I think the RIAA have better lobbyists than you have.

    And I think the point is not to actually get $1.5mil per CD, but to have that statute on the books as leverage to get more settlements.
    Whenever you see legislation like the PRO-IP Act, you have to ask yourself two questions:
    1. Who is sponsoring the legislation?
    John Conyers [D-MI]

    Rep Berman, Howard L. [D-CA]
    Rep Cohen, Steve [D-TN]
    Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [D-TX]
    Rep Schiff, Adam B. [D-CA]
    Rep Wexler, Robert [D-FL]

    Rep Chabot, Steve [R-OH]
    Rep Feeney, Tom [R-FL]
    Rep Goodlatte, Bob [R-VA]
    Rep Issa, Darrell E. [R-CA]
    Rep Keller, Ric [R-FL]
    Rep Smith, Lamar [R-TX]

    2. Where did the model legislation for this Act come from?
  • Re:heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by eiapoce ( 1049910 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:56PM (#22240148)
    Excellent piece. BTW: Republicans = Democrats = Sold out. And I mean it, here is proof: http://www.politicalmoneyline.com/ [politicalmoneyline.com] - http://opensecrets.org/ [opensecrets.org]

    I'd suggest american friends to change from a Duocracy system to a real democracy. As much is proven that a duopoly is not effective in favouring the consumer, why whould a duocracy do any better in the political field?
  • by laura20 ( 21566 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:19PM (#22240428) Homepage
    That's what I thought myself, until I looked up the original [typicallyspanish.com] Spanish [thinkspain.com] articles. His insurance company settled with the family of the dead bicyclist, admitting that the driver was at fault since he was speeding (estimated at over 100 mph in a 55 mile zone), and he had also been drinking. Then the driver sued them, presumably because his own insurance didn't cover his damage. So yes, the guy is a dick, is at fault, and is probably going to regret the lawsuit; the family was too devastated in the immediate aftermath to push for criminal charges, but that has changed.
  • by cslax ( 1215816 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:23PM (#22240490)
    If this went before the Supreme Court, the whole thing would HAVE to be ruled unconstitutional. There's NO WAY IN HELL that this could ever possibly be upheld. And yes, the excessive fines was the clause I meant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:41PM (#22240708)
    I'm sure the RIAA would love to double-dip, as it were, but if you upload a file to me (which I'm downloading), that's 1 infringement, not two. So, when doing your accounting, don't count both uploads *and* downloads. Or if you do, count them as 1/2 an infringement each. Which, may be what you are doing since you're coming up with a total value of infrigment which is equal to the album's retail price, but it wasn't exactly clear from your writeup.

    Statutory damages for infringment of a registered copyright is 3x actual damages, so you could come up with a figure of $45-60 per total album upload/download. I'm with you guys though - I'm not sure where they get 1.5 Million from.
  • by bane2571 ( 1024309 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:50PM (#22240784)
    The "average" ratio on, for example bit torrent should always be 100% since everyone downloading is getting the file from someone else that downloaded it. I guess the original seeder would put the ratio slightly above 100% but I'm sure you get my point.

    The thing is that average is likely propped up by a small minority of high ratio users and your average john doe would have a low ratio. From reporting here, the RIAA has been going after average people rather than high ratio people. at a guess I'd say my ratio never topped 80%, which is pretty good IMO as my max upload was 1/4 of my max download. My point is that most people will only ever upload maximum 1 CD for each CD. Even with double dipping by charging uploader and downloader it would make most people liable for 2X[cost of CD] not 100,000 X[cost of CD]
  • by Software ( 179033 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:56PM (#22240850) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress disagrees with your valuation of infringement. From http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html [copyright.gov] :

    (1) Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just. For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work.

    (2) In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000. In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200. The court shall remit statutory damages in any case where an infringer believed and had reasonable grounds for believing that his or her use of the copyrighted work was a fair use under section 107, if the infringer was: (i) an employee or agent of a nonprofit educational institution, library, or archives acting within the scope of his or her employment who, or such institution, library, or archives itself, which infringed by reproducing the work in copies or phonorecords; or (ii) a public broadcasting entity which or a person who, as a regular part of the nonprofit activities of a public broadcasting entity (as defined in subsection (g) of section 118) infringed by performing a published nondramatic literary work or by reproducing a transmission program embodying a performance of such a work.

    The penalties built into the law are to deter the behavior, not just to remedy one infraction. We don't say to burglars, "that's OK, just give the stuff back and we're square" (I'm not equating copyright infringement and stealing, I'm just pointing out the nature of penalties).

    The $1.5 million per CD is consistent with the law if we assume that the infringement was willful and there are 10 songs on the CD. If you assume that the CD is a work as a whole -- see the last sentence of part (1) above -- then $150,000 per CD is appropriate.

  • Not $600 (Score:5, Informative)

    by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:05PM (#22240934)
    Totally off-topic, but since you decided to fudge some stats, I may as well respond: the maximum payout is not set at $600 but at $2,500. Larger amounts COULD be paid out...but my general experience has been that any time you start compensating locals for large amounts, they go out of their way to try and suck money out of you. When we were doing "peacekeeping" in Bosnia, there was a fairly large payout for pretty much everything from property damage caused by raids to vehicle damage caused in accidents. As a result, locals would often damage their own property in order to try and claim "compensation". They'd even go so far as to intentionally cause a head-on collision between a honda-civic sized shitbox and an armoured personnel carrier, which, unsurprisingly, most often lead to the death of the driver.

    These things often seem like really great ideas to people sitting on their asses in North America, banging away at a computer keyboard, but in real life they don't work nearly as well. For instance, I can't count how many times some clown on an internet forum has suggested we offer a cash incentive for people to turn in explosives. Of course, the real world result of that would be a lot of civilians being killed while trying to bring in unstable ordinance. Or the suggestions that we pay people to turn in weapons - usually the only result is villagers selling us their WW1 era muskets, and then using the money to buy AK47's.

    So, long story short, paying out large amounts for "wrongful deaths" is a bad idea. The cash currently paid out isn't meant to replace the person who was killed, and it's certainly not an admission of culpability or responsibility. It's just a gesture to say "we're sorry this had to happen to you, here's something to help you get back on your feet".
  • by MastarPete ( 790343 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:11AM (#22244404)
    interestingly enough a similar opportunity opened up in the comments for
    "CSS of DVDs Ruled 'Ineffective' by Finnish Courts" http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/25/1653209 [slashdot.org]

    "That might have been true in the past. In the age of the Internet, cracks can almost instantly become widespread."
    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=236211&cid=19273729 [slashdot.org]

  • Re:heh (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xeth ( 614132 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @11:12AM (#22246548) Journal
    I don't think that anyone who says "there's no difference" actually means it literally. There are obvious, well publicized differences on several key issues (abortion, gun control, etc.). What they mean is that there isn't a lot of significant philosophical difference between the two. Both parties are, compared to the rest of the world, very right-wing. Both have strong anti-libertarian leanings. Instead of selecting candidates based on an overall approach to government, U.S politics are generally played by litmus tests for 3-5 issues (The war, gay marriage, abortion, death penalty, gun control). Claiming that there must be a significant difference because a computer can detect a difference is fallacious.
  • by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @12:17PM (#22247526)
    Tipper Go... I mean Hillary Clinton is not very liberal, really. I mean, for one, she's pro censorship [gamepolitics.com]. Besides health care, she's pretty conservative.
  • Decision trees? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @01:12PM (#22248346) Journal
    You should publish that data somewhere. It would be interesting to see who owns whom in congress...

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard