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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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  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:10PM (#22239490) Journal
    Sweet! At that damage level, the RIAA could afford to ditch all pretense of supporting music, and make a killing by sending lawyers down the street in major metro areas to slap subpoenas on every passerby with an MP3 player.
  • Right then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:11PM (#22239510)

    All you trolls that insist copyright infringement is the same as stealing, please point out a single instance of somebody being fined $1.5 million dollars for stealing a CD.

  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:11PM (#22239518)
    The penalty would be much less than this.

  • by TheGoodSteven ( 1178459 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:17PM (#22239612)
    So, what they are saying is that copying a CD deserves more of a punishment than does taking a CD from somebody by force?
  • by SailorSpork ( 1080153 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:19PM (#22239636) Homepage
    Actually, that's about what each infringement is worth. If you use filesharing, and if for each song you download, you upload a song, your infringement for downloading/uploading and album on that fileshare would be about the cost of that same album; about $15. I still don't understand how any competent mind can come up with any more than that per infraction.

    Since filesharing is on average 1:1, It's not that each person uploading ten songs is causing thousands of dollars worth of damages, its that thousands of different people are causing ten's of dollars of damage each. But if that were how it was stated in court, legal fees would outweigh damages, and lawsuits would no longer become lucrative sources of income.
  • Re:$1.5 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:22PM (#22239692)
    This is a classic case of asking for more than you can get to give yourself bargaining power. They'll ask for 1.5 million then say "oh well, we'll just compromise at 750k and call it good"
  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:24PM (#22239706) Homepage

    RIAA Wants $1.5 Million Per CD Copied
    And I want a pony. Somehow, I think we're both going to be disappointed.

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:25PM (#22239728)
    I know it's fashionable (and fascistic) for the US government to ignore portions of, or even outright contradict the Constitution, but wouldn't a $1.5 mil fine be grossly disproportionate to the actual cost of infringing 10 songs on a CD? Do the words of the 18th Amendment even apply here?

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:27PM (#22239756) Journal
    Give as much money to politicians as the RIAA has and you'll both get your wish.
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:28PM (#22239780)
    From the article:

    "The issue is compilations, which now are treated as a single work. In the RIAA's perfect world, each copied track would count as a separate act of infringement, meaning that a copying a ten-song CD even one time could end up costing a defendant $1.5 million if done willfully."

    Neat trick, eh? I fail to see the common-sense logic, but I guess that's never stopped the legal-beagles before...

    For those posting about changing the business model, (earn money by prosecuting the shit out of your consumers). Yes, but it's probably more to get headlines and increase the imagined "deterrent" effect... Yeah right. Sure worked with the death penalty and murder/serious crime rates, eh?

    For those posting about stealing the CDs, well sorry, but the way these desperate dudes are going, pretty soon it'll be illegal to rip those tracks to your Ubuntu box/iPod/whatever anyway. Fair use? Byeeeeeeee... Next up, 2Bn$ fines for those who rip music from stolen CDs!!!! Think of the children!

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:31PM (#22239834)
    One pirated CD copy is worth more than a human life!

    An above-average wrongful death compensation award for a healthy working parent would be in the $1-3 million dollar range. You could go murder somebody. It'd be cheaper than pirating a few CDs. And if the CDs had DRM, the jail sentence would be shorter for the murder too! The US military pays out $600 for wrongful deaths in Iraq. A pirated CD copy is worth more than 2500 Iraqis!

    In reality though, they're probably asking for so much in hopes that the compromise amount will be high. Hopefully congress tells them to fuck off instead of coming up with a "compromise" that is right in line with what they were really hoping for anyway.
  • Re:Walmart (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StringBlade ( 557322 ) * on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:33PM (#22239860) Journal
    If you're going to steal CDs, why not start with a store that doesn't put RFIDs on all of it's merchandise?
  • Re:Walmart (Score:3, Insightful)

    by riseoftheindividual ( 1214958 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:37PM (#22239920) Homepage
    I hope it passes for that and for the tact I expect most to take... you don't need their shit, you don't need it. Why does anyone need a CD or to listen to the music produced by the people funding this? We don't.

    It's not like software that we might need for work to get paid. It's not like clothing where you tend to get in trouble if you go around without it(damn conservative society). It's not like food where you starve to death without it. This is entertainment. It's just not neccessary. If they get this passed, I predict a major collapse of the recording industry as it is today. Big names will begin striking out on their own to distance themselves from the companies associated with these moves.

    Sorry Metallica, U2, and whoever else, life was good before you and life will be good after you. May this legislation pass so they can have the rude awakening they so desperately deserve.
  • by adminstring ( 608310 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:40PM (#22239952)
    Stories like this only help highlight the differences between musicians and corporate leeches that exploit musicians.

    If you live in a city with a local music scene, support your local independent bands, and support the independent bands that come through directly by buying CDs from them. No musician has ever attempted to extort 1.5 million from their audience. There is plenty of great content out there without having to go to the RIAA and their ilk.
  • by Achromatic1978 ( 916097 ) <robert@c[ ] ['hro' in gap]> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:42PM (#22239966)
    He didn't sue the family, he sued the /estate/ of the pedestrian. Reasonable enough, if, as you have no idea of knowing, the pedestrian was at fault. Did they step out into a busy street? If it's the pedestrian's fault, are you saying that the driver should suck up the guilt for the rest of his life, /and/ shell out for the damage done?

    Should he claim insurance?

    Who do you think the insurance company would sue to reimburse their costs? The estate of the pedestrian.

    Granted it's an unsavory thought, but if that car was your livelihood, and the accident was not your fault, why in the hell should you not try to recover costs?

    It's grim and should be approached with tact, but...

  • by bitshark ( 991435 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:43PM (#22239992)
    Anybody heard of actually suiting punishments to crimes? Technically stealing/downloading/borrowing/pseudonym-du-jour-ing a CD is illegal. Alright, so the recording industry is out somewhere between $10 and $20 US. You'd want to magnify that a touch to make it a suitable punishment (otherwise people would steal and, if they were caught, they'd be basically paying the law for the CD). A factor of 150 thousand? That almost borders on being a joke in poor taste. If it weren't for the fact that the RIAA goes to some pretty absurd and questionably legal means most of the time, I just might laugh.
  • Re:Walmart (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:47PM (#22240044)
    I don't think there will be major changes. I agree with you that people should revolt against the RIAA and stop purchasing their products. But people wont. People do not want have anything get in the way of their instant gratification.
  • Re:$1.5 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teasea ( 11940 ) <t_stool AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:11PM (#22240322)
    Gold is 500,000 copies and platinum is 1,000,000. So if you go Gold, that's a net of $7,500,000.00. Now the company spent $100,000 to $250,000 recording, $3,000,000 in marketing (mostly payola) and another half million or so on incidentals (hookers, bail). Oh, and stamps. Add a half million.

    The artist on the first album will 1 to 3% of the net, so with the remaining 3 and half million or so, that means the artist only owes the company an additional $150,000.00. Luckily there are 4 or 5 members in the band, so it's relativly painless. You should be able to make most of that back on your next album assuming you can come up with quality material in 9 months when the first album took 12 years of writing. (It's easier to just use the same songs with different lyrics.)

    Have a cigar!
  • by jd ( 1658 ) < minus city> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:12PM (#22240330) Homepage Journal
    Bits of the pedestrian gave way. The driver was cited by police as doing 20+ MPH over the speed limit, although the news story cites (unnamed) independent experts as saying it would have been closer to 40 MPH over the speed limit. (The speed limit was 55 MPH). Far as I can tell from the news article, the driver is not claiming that there was shared responsibility for the accident or that the pedestrian did anything wrong, merely that the pedestrian caused damage to his Audi. If that really is the whole story, then the attitude is no different from the RIAA's (bringing this thread back on topic).
  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:18PM (#22240408)
    You are correct on both counts. This IS a case of "engineered expectations" so that a "reasonable compromise" can be reached AND also serves the simultaneous purpose of providing a hunk of meat for the activists to sink their teeth into while the real proposal flies in below the radar. They really ought to make the collected works of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu's Art of War required reading in high school so that people are actually prepared for the types of things that go on in the real world these days. It is frustrating to see the same tired old plays from the same dusty old political play book succeed again and again for the RIAA when really their actions are so transparent that anyone willing to take more than a casual glance at their activities would spot the ploys immediately. I suppose that people are either ignorant or they don't care or both.
  • Re:Walmart (Score:3, Insightful)

    by riseoftheindividual ( 1214958 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:26PM (#22240532) Homepage
    You could be right, but, it has already started to happen to a degree, people not purchasing their products anymore. Instant gratification can be had all over the net with things that don't involve music(or porn). It's just a matter of getting the right trend going.

    And of course, it starts with us as individuals. There's some artists I will buy from because of their public stance on all this, and some who will never see a dime of mine again(I used to be a big Metallica fan, now they can sod off and die now for all I care).

    We can't control others, but we can control ourselves and that will influence those around us.

    And really, the first time someone got fined that much for copying a CD, don't think there won't be a substantial public backlash. Instant gratification or not, being fined so severely for something so trivial will rile up oceans of illwill, of that I would bet money.
  • by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:28PM (#22240548) Journal

    "otherwise people would steal"
    They are going into the store and taking the physical cd? Or were you talking about copying something illegally which is actually copyright infringement and not stealing in any way.

    Using the industries language changes the debate into one that is inherently biased.

  • Re:$1.5 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:39PM (#22240684)

    You should be able to make most of that back on your next album assuming you can come up with quality material in 9 months when the first album took 12 years of writing.
    Bon Jovi said it best,"You have your whole life to write your first album and only six months to write the second."
  • Re:$1.5 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rapturizer ( 733607 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:45PM (#22240744)
    I think we should let them, only with the stipulation of a $1.5 Billion penalty when they file a lawsuit against the wrong person. Of course, this would be payable in cash to the person they sue. I would think that this would be an equally justifiable fine and would encourage some top tier lawyers to defend the public for a marginal percentage.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:05PM (#22240936) Journal
    I think your looking at the 8th amendment.

    But you have to consider that compensatory damages or even statutory damages are not fines or punishment in the sense of the government fining or punishing someone. You really have to look at the differences between a civil suit and a criminal suit and the laws behind them as well as who is behind the act.

    Typically, statutory damages are there to help you recover losses. I can see a path where someone could lose 1.5 mill because of the first copying of a CD but it involves a lot of conditions not present with the recording companies. I think the idea behind large damages like this was originally to allow the circumstances to permit full recovery of losses but it has since then turned into a way to punish defendants without opening criminal prosecutions. This may be why you think "damages won" in a civil court is the same as a fine. Maybe the answer is to limit punitive damages to extreme situations?
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:26PM (#22241140) Journal
    I don't think it is a matter of a single CD costing 1.5 mill rather that copying a single CD can cause 1.5 mill in damages.

    Think about this very rare and unlikely situation. You have a band that is really good. You pay a manager and producer to make an album and market it. The costs of the studio, marketing, location rentals, film crews for the video's and everything including the manager's and producer's salary while this is going one could reach more then 1.5 million and the manager fronts the costs because your band is that good.

    Now lets say that 2 weeks before the official release, someone tells you that you look like this guy from a new band that has a really kick ass song floating around the Internet and it is too hot for radio. You investigate to find 20,000 or more sources for it on one file sharing program alone and people have claimed to have been listening to it for 4 of the 6 months between production and the official release (takes time to shoot awesome videos). The official launch happens, the CDs are in the stores and 2/3rds of everyone showing up to buy it realize before the purchase that it is the same shit they already have. You have effectively sold just enough CD's to pay for the stamping and still need to cover the video production, studio rentals, and everything else. Sure your famous, but your broke.

    You can't even go gold and use that to pump or gain free publicity to your kick-ass tour because people aren't buying your album like they would have if the first copy never happened before you officially released the work. Now imagine you someone find that a warehouse worker opened a box of your CD's, listened to it and started the situation as we know it off. Now imagine all the magazines and television programs raving about how great your shit is. Your the greatest sound in music since the egg hatched a chicken that could lay more eggs. But you can't make another album because your working at Dairy Queen part time to pay the first album off.

    But yea, that doesn't sound like anything being pushed on us by the recording labels. But I can see extreme cases where because it was copied, someone lost out on 1.5 mill.
  • by un1xl0ser ( 575642 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:47PM (#22241344)
    I can't really agree with you there. A lot of the bands that I listen to (the IDM scene), I will never see in concert. They rarely tour, and it is mostly in Europe anyways.

    It is the artists choice as to how they want to make money. If they want to sell CDs for cheap and tour, so be it. If they want to sell their CDs for $1,000 and never tour, they are welcome to. They should be in control of the product that they want to offer. If they choose to screw around with my unwritten contract with them, and offer services that I can't afford or do not want, they don't get my money and support. If they want to use DRM, they won't get my support. If they care that I got a copy of the album from a friend before I purchased it, I will lose a lot of respect for them and they won't get my

    My problem with the big labels and RIAA is that they assert too much control over the artists for my taste.
  • by Chysn ( 898420 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:05PM (#22241488)
    ...we'd all be eating steak.

    This doesn't seem to be about the money. Make it $250,000 per CD, or make it $50 million. What they want the power to do is destroy someone forever. One CD means you lose your house, your family, your future. One CD indentures you to them with no hope of retiring. They're asking for $1.5 million because they know that asking for lethal injection is a tad over the top.
  • Re:$1.5 million? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrdarreng ( 1120603 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:17PM (#22241562)

    Have a cigar!
    nice reference! ;c)
  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:32PM (#22241668) Journal

    Excellent piece. BTW: Republicans = Democrats = Sold out.
    I disagree with the notion that Republicans = Democrats = Sold out
    There are real and serious differences between the two parties and anyone who tries to marginalize those differences is usually agitating for a 3rd party or giving in to apathy.

    The +5 Funny AC below me made an insightful commentary that I had thought about saying, but decided to avoid editorializing.

    Basically, the people sponsoring this bill are:
    Disneyland x 3
    Hollywood x 3
    Texas x 2
    and Nashville Tennesse, the home of country music

    People always seem surprised when they realize that their Representatives consider Big Business to be part of the constituency.

    I'd suggest american friends to change from a Duocracy system to a real democracy.
    The founders of these U.S.A. were against a Duocracy (nice word, only 434 results on Google), but they were also afraid of a direct Democracy.
  • by JonTurner ( 178845 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:43PM (#22241760) Journal
    So, when this extortion racket, uh, I mean "organization" successfully sues someone or they settle out of court... how much of that money goes back to the artists they supposedly represent? Has any artist received a dividend cheque?

    Colour me skeptical.
  • by UttBuggly ( 871776 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @10:55PM (#22242240)
    Hmmm....past 50 and still the proud owner of some 500 pieces of classic vinyl having and many more CDs.

    I have many records...the original quadraphonic recording of Dark Side Of The Moon, for instance...that have been played ONCE. And that was to RECORD THEM to a more durable, portable media so I could enjoy the music as much as I wanted without damaging the original album.

    Sure, vinyl isn't a CD. Doubt if the RIAA makes a distinction. And considering I have some excellent gear, and that I'm a professional musician with lots of studio time, and so on, many of my "copies" sound better than the CD version.

    Of course, silly me...I assumed that when I bought an album...Led Zepplin was mine. Should I be penalized, brought to penury, and vilified simply because I've outlived some technology? If I could still get a sealed, cherry vinyl record album, I'd still buy them. That's not the case, so I feel well within my rights to record an irreplaceable piece of music every decade or so to the latest storage medium.

    So, by my calculations, I can apparently offset the National Debt all by myself simply because I have old records.


  • Heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `srevart.sirhc'> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @11:19PM (#22242410) Homepage Journal
    Of course the statistics are BS. The way they are calculated is "if everyone purchased these songs instead of copying them, there would be 750000 more jobs" which is *not* the same as "750000 jobs were lost because of copyright infringement" because of two issues:

    1) It is one heck of a leap to suggest that if there was no internet that so many more CD's and singles would be purchased.
    2) I seriously doubt that those numbers of job inflation are accurate anyway (that is roughly 10-20 times the number of employees at Microsoft).

    However, at the same time, the fact is that copyright infringement remains a "crime against the free market" (not inluding anti-free-market controls such as access control under the DMCA). The basic problem is that copyright infringement denies a market place to newer artists who may be more willing to try other models of music distribution in the same way that copyright infringement of Windows denies Linux market share. I personally think that the damage done to our society by this illegal copying is immeasurable, and that the primary *beneficiaries* are the major record lables.

    So if you want to *help* the RIAA, go ahead and keep downloading those songs without permission. If you want to *hurt* them, start working with artists to build an alternative music production and distribution system which works for them.
  • I want... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chewbacon ( 797801 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @12:25AM (#22242812)
    ...$1.5 million per violation of consumer rights.
  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @12:44AM (#22242942) Homepage Journal
    "There are real and serious differences between the two parties and anyone who tries to marginalize those differences is usually agitating for a 3rd party or giving in to apathy." The differences: GOP "We want to government to torture people." Dems "We're going to write a strongly worded letter explaining our misgivings about our allowing government torture." GOP "The government needs to spy on its own people, this is a good thing." Dems "Gosh, its too bad that the government has to spy on its own people." GOP "The president can't break the law because anything he does is by definition legal." Dems "The president can't break the law because he's not supposed to. We think he is, but he swears he's not. We sure wish he'd stop, but he says he won't."
  • Re:heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yoozer ( 1055188 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:47AM (#22243744) Homepage

    When "dumb," statistically based data mining software is capable of grasping the clear differences between Republican and Democrat, it becomes impossible to argue with a straight face that the two parties are the same. A fucking computer can tell the difference, why can't a human?
    Because the computer has everything loaded up into memory (people forget past mistakes and triumphs if it suits them) and because the computer is not prejudiced. If someone hears of 5 corruption scandals at the Republicans and 2 at the Democrats, people still have a tendency to call it "both are equially corrupt" - because it saves them the hard work of thinking.

    The Hillary outcome is interesting, though - so instead of a RINO (Republican in name only), she's a RONIN (Republican, only not in name) ;).
  • by ProteusQ ( 665382 ) <dontbother AT nowhere DOT com> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @11:29AM (#22246840) Journal
    In America, we prosecute the drug user rather than the dealer, because the dealers can afford good lawyers.

    We prosecute the illegal immigrant rather than recognize that what's happening is an economic migration caused by an excessively high minimum wage in the US and a corrupt Mexican government.

    We consider criminal prosecution of file traders rather than notice that the **AA are attempting to support price gouging in an effort to capitalism with mercantilism.

    It's time to bite the bullet, as the saying goes, and start fixing the real problems.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @12:33PM (#22247762)
    Bribing Congressmen doesn't come cheap. They have to make it back SOMEWAY.
  • Re:heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jdjbuffalo ( 318589 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @01:59PM (#22248978) Journal
    They certainly do vote differently on some key issues but they are BOTH beholden to corporate interests and not to the public, from whom they derive their power.

    A pig with lipstick is still a pig. It just looks prettier than the other ones.

    We are in need of some serious reform (no lobbyists, no corporate personhood etc.). If you reduce the corporate interests down to about 90% of power they have over "our representatives" now then you will get a system that actually cares about the people rather than selling out to the highest, I mean...lobbyist.
  • Re:$1.5 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:14PM (#22252494) Journal

    They say a CD is worth $1,500,000 and you can get it for $14. (First of all you are apparently getting one hell of a deal at the store)
    Sorry, but it's been a while since I bought a CD in a store.

    Not that I never buy CDs, though. I've purchased quite a few CDs last year (or at least CD's worth of music) directly from the artists. I really like dealing directly with artists when buying their work. Not only is all the money going directly to the people who did the hard work, but it creates a personal relationship with the artist. You'd be surprised how many of my favorite musicians have corresponded with me personally just because I bought their music directly from their website. In at least two cases, they've sent me free previews of their next releases, and one even put me on the guest list at an upcoming show in my area (naturally, I declined and paid my way). Hard-working musicians really appreciate it when their fans think enough of their work to lay down a few bucks which goes right into their pockets, without doing a detour through several colonies of leeches and skimmers, none of whom have done a goddamn thing to help, and in many cases have made life harder for them.

    I love music and musicians. I make a significant portion of my own livelihood by making and selling my music. The RIAA, MPAA, intellectual property lawyers, record company execs, A&R people, radio program directors, Clear Channel, major concert promoters, etc etc do nothing but hurt the quality and quantity of music. More and more creative people are realizing there's a better way. God bless 'em.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.