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Piracy Software The Almighty Buck The Courts

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

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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:29PM (#38549118)

    may or may not exist, if you even think a loss of hypothetical profit is damaging in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lorenlal ( 164133 )

      Yes... but in this case there should be some sort of punishment for stealing. It is very likely that no sale would have occurred, but that's not the point on an infringement case.

      I've long complained on these forums about the judgements against people who share music. But the point was that the damages were often grossly out of line with any reasonable punishment. This... Well... It may actually be less than what it should be assuming the illegal download was for what should be a fully licensed copy tha

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How many times do we have to keep telling you morons?


        Whether you think copying something should be illegal or not (it shouldn't), it's impossible for copying to be stealing. The original owner is deprived of NOTHING when a copy is made.

        • by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:56PM (#38549370) Homepage

          As many times as we have to tell you that they are being deprived of sales and income. Probably nowhere near 1 to 1, but they are being deprived.

          Like it or not, protection of a work is needed to keep the creative process going. 70 years after the death of the artist is too long and corporations should hold no copyright, only real people named as the artist.

          • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:00PM (#38549412)

            Do you have any evidence that any of those pirates would have paid for a license? And that's the crux of the matter. Until somebody actually shells out for a license you can't say for certain if they would.

            There should be a penalty, but there's no particular reason to believe that a public shaming would be any less effective than forcing them to pay for a copy after the fact, even at a greatly increased cost.

            • by jaymz666 ( 34050 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:11PM (#38549544)

              they should be deprived of any benefit of having the software may have brought them.

              Put that in your measuring stick and smoke it

            • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:48PM (#38549868)

              Do you have any evidence that any of those pirates would have paid for a license? And that's the crux of the matter.

              No, the actual crux is the rule of law. If a law is broken there should be a punishment. What should that be in the case of software piracy? The cost of the software is a reasonable attempt at proportionality. Plus fines often have two components, the actual damages and the punitive damages. The later being purely to discourage such behavior. Perhaps the cost of a license should be considered punitive not actual, it matters only to accountants not the person whose pocket it comes out of.

              None of the above should be interpreted to mean that our laws in this area are not antiquated, or flawed, and in need of an update. I'm just arguing that fining the infringer the cost of a license seems far more reasonable than some other methods of coming up with a number.

              • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:18PM (#38550662) Homepage Journal

                I think tort law would cover the problem, nicely. Treble damages. If some guy is found with a library of pirated material, worth a thousand dollars, then he pays three thousand dollars. So - if someone actually went through all my stuff, and discovered all the stuff I've pirated, then I might be liable for - ohhhh - $150.

                If they could examine the records of everything I've ever downloaded, and charge me for stuff I've since deleted, then I might be liable for a ballpark figure of $2 - 3,000.

                And, if the world were suddenly to act that rational, I might even find myself agreeing with the law. Winning "settlements" of millions against working class people simply makes no sense, unless those working class people were financially profiting from the software, music, movies, or whatever.

              • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:32PM (#38550788)

                The rule is that you have to prove your damages to be awarded them. Unless they can prove that they've been damaged, I see absolutely no reason why they should be given a penny that other industries wouldn't get under similar circumstances.

                • The rule is that you have to prove your damages to be awarded them. Unless they can prove that they've been damaged, I see absolutely no reason why they should be given a penny that other industries wouldn't get under similar circumstances.

                  That wouldn't be hard at all. Remember, "prove" in civil cases is preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. If you're using the software without paying for it, you'd have to be pretty good at showing that you wouldn't be able to pay for it to tilt the case back in your favor.

            • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:06PM (#38550014)
              "And that's the crux of the matter. Until somebody actually shells out for a license you can't say for certain if they would."

              Oh horseshit, that's not at all relevant. The true crux is the immoral and illegal decision to take something without reimbursing the owner. That they *wouldn't* have purchased it anyway doesn't mean a damn thing. Don't think it's worth purchasing? Don't rip it off.

              It appears to me that your core belief resolves to this: If I don't want to pay for it, I shouldn't be punished harshly when it's found I ripped it off.

              Pretty shoddy moral grounds.

              "...there's no particular reason to believe that a public shaming..."
              Criminals don't get to set their own punishments because they tend to prefer light slaps on the wrist.
              • 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 vux984 ( 928602 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:19PM (#38550672)

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

                What is the moral basis for arguing that it is wrong to make a copy of something you would not have paid for if you couldn't make a copy.

                I'm serious. What moral principle are you applying in that situation?

                I can't find one.

                The idea that the creator should be reimbursed for his work is reasonable, but since we have as a stated premise that I wasn't going to have paid for it then he wasn't going to get any money from me. If I can obtain a copy without causing him any material harm he has lost nothing.

                At best there is a slippery slope argument that if we let people who won't pay have a copy, then people who could/would pay will stop paying for their copies too, But that's not a moral argument for depriving people who would never pay a copy, but merely a recognition of the practical difficulty of differentiating between those who would and those who wouldn't.

                • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:13AM (#38554402)

                  In this case the copied software was used to design a new product, and it's reasonable to assume that the new product was sold to people some of whom would have otherwise bought the copied product. Therefor, real damage was done to the owners of the copied product.

                  In other cases, acquiring an unauthorized copy of a rare and expensive product may reduce the value of the original, due to reduction of the quality "rarity".

                  In the physical realm, if you steal a book from me that I've already read and have no intention of rereading or selling, you've still committed theft and should be treated accordingly. No judge or jury would have the slightest interest about whether I had any use for the book; they'd simply be interested in the questions of ownership and theft.

              • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:25PM (#38550718)
                Copyright is a practical institution in the US, not a moral one. Copyright is not by any means a moral issue.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                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

              • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:04PM (#38551592)

                Your argument has one major, sincere, problem. Nothing was taken, and Nothing needed to reimbursed. Nada. Zilch. El Zippo.

                As far as calculating damages goes, it is a major logical flaw to assume that all instances of infringement would have resulted in a sale. You are entirely correct that it does not change the morality of the act. It does change the assumptions though.

                The original AC poster screaming at the "morons" that cannot understand theft echoes my sentiments exactly.

                You can't treat IP as physical property and apply the logic that you do. It is understandable that there has been some confusion because before the "digital" age the distribution of IP was accomplished via physical means that had actual value separate from the IP. So technically, you could steal a CD, book, or VHS tape movie. What you stole was the physical property, not the IP. In fact, in those cases of physical theft no actual infringement occurred.

                If I pirate a movie right now, none of the physical equipment that was used by myself was stolen. My laptop was legally purchased. I reside in a residence that am I legally entitled to reside in. My electricity bill is paid. My Internet service is paid for.

                All those zeroes and ones were rightfully compensated by me.

                What I did end up doing however, was infringe upon the legal entitlements granted to a copyright holder by the United States of America, via The People, to control the distribution and profit from what that binary data represented.

                That is what is so hard to get through people's heads. I never stole anything or deprived anyone of anything physical. I was in breach of a legal contract.

                This is not pedantic either, but a highly crucial understanding of law and how it relates the proper functioning of society. When you apply the word theft, and the logic accompanying it, you are not only wrong, but doing a disservice to society.

                Intellectual Property and the Public Domain should never be used to advance and agenda that ultimately ends up compromising, abrogating, or outright destroying the freedoms we are all entitled to as free thinking human beings.

                Stop using the word theft. It is still wrong, we both agree on that, in so far as we agree that a society needs to compensate our artistic creators that provide us with a rich life of ideas and art.

                It is, and should remain, a civil matter between two parties. Introducing theft, and that twisted logic, only serves to pervert those proceedings into something criminal and restrain what should always have been free. The Internet and my own personal area of Cyberspace.

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

                Well, copyright is an artificial right to privately censor other people -- to prevent them from making their own copies, distributing copies, etc. of a work. Are you suggesting that censorship is a morally good thing? Generally I consider copyright to be an amoral thing, but if morality is considered, surely the people who preserve and spread knowledge are better than the ones who want to only let other people enjoy it for a fee.

          • 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 @02:08PM (#38549504)

            This guy just murdered 10 MB, and then he got his friends to rape 100 MB! If you mean copy, say copy - involving unrelated crimes like murder or theft just confuses the issue. You can still think it's bad without making stuff up. Loss of revenue is not theft - if I stand outside your shop and tell everyone that your meat is rotten, I may have caused you a loss of revenue and I may have done something illegal, but I didn't steal from you, or murder your money, or rape your bank-account or any other silly use of words like that.

          • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:26PM (#38549668) Journal
            THis is not even close to logical. Legal terms have extremely specific meanings. Nowhere in copyright law is the word theft or stealing mentioned. Its not theft because no one has an innate right to profit. You are assuming that possession of the item should equal a sale. ANd I assure you, if the social bargain that is copyright was abolished, people would continue to create works.
            • Not to mention you have thousands upon thousands of years where there was no such thing as copyright, and it in no way prevented people from either creating new works of art, nor from earning a living from them.
              On the other hand, the existence of copyrights or similar laws has in no way ensured any ability of a creator to actually profit from their work either, though it in many ways has greatly reduced the appreciation of such works by limiting access to them to the point where there is limited consumption
            • by dmbasso ( 1052166 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:59PM (#38550494)

              ANd I assure you, if the social bargain that is copyright was abolished, people would continue to create works.

              And people would continue to contribute to the authors, as we do with donations to Wikipedia or paying a fair amount to Humble Indie Bundles.

          • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:44PM (#38549816)

            As many times as we have to tell you that they are being deprived of sales and income.

            They never had the sales or the money to begin with. There's nothing to steal from them.

            I'm sure I lose opportunities to gain all the time, but I would not call that theft.

        • 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.)

          • by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:31PM (#38549698) Journal

            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.

            Don't misrepresent the competitor's actions as using the illegally downloaded software to discover trade secrets of the original owner. He merely copied "Look and Feel". The court decided that the use the competitor made of the software itself was perfectly legal, and the only illegal action was the download itself.

            Or perhaps you didn't read the fine court decision?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:17PM (#38549588)

          Shame on the moderators who modded you insightful. People who disagree with you are not necessarily morons.

          You are arguing a political position, not a definition. Whether or not copyright infringement is stealing in a legal or moral sense depends on your view of intellectual property.

          In terms of a dictionary defintion, it is obvious that copyright infringement is stealing. We say someone "stole" state secrets. We don't say "they only copied them, that's not stealing" because the definition is taking without permission and has nothing to do with whether we "deprived" anyone.

          And if we go with your definition, people can still disagree. It could argue that your unauthorized copy belongs to the copyright holder and that you are depriving the owner of that copy.

          • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:58PM (#38549956)

            In terms of a dictionary defintion, it is obvious that copyright infringement is stealing.

            And in terms of a legal definition, it's obvious it isn't - now was this person accused of breaking a law of etymology as dictated by Ben Johnson, Noah Webster or maybe all those nice Britannica 3 people, or current US law? You do know what they call people who go into courts and argue that the common use of words has legal power over the actual courts rulings and precedents, don't you?

            If copyright violation is legally theft:

            1. States have a right to enforce laws regarding theft which happens in their jurisdictions, so the SCOTUS decision that copyright law cannot be delegated to the states is invalid and we have a constitutional crisis on our hands.

            2. ALL copyright violation is criminal - As there's no such thing as non-criminal theft. We need to get ALL copyright law moved from Title 17 (copyright law) to Title 18 (US federal criminal law).

            3. Copyright cannot expire, and the part of the constitution that says 'limited time' is again part of a constitutional crisis. After all, theft can't become non-theft just because of the age of the item. Can you imagine if someone could legally take something physical just because it had gotten too old to be protected? "Let's go loot an antique shop - that stuff is too old to be protected by law anymore.".

            4. Everything Madison, John Jay, Learned Hand, Franklin, Jefferson and many others wrote on copyright proves they were morally bankrupt, because they didn't agree that copyright violation was theft at all, and we need to tear down a lot of statues. These people are bad examples to our children. Hell, every single person elected to high federal office failed to agree with you until 1976 when the first actual criminal penalties for some select forms of CV were passed, let's get their names off all those monuments, bridges, and high schools.

            You go tell the government to smash the Jefferson Memorial and demand that every single congresscritter that won't move all of Title 17 into Title 18 be immediately impeached for coddling thieves. You encourage your state to secede if the federal government won't let them exercise their old state level copyright laws. I will wait here.

      • 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 Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:27PM (#38550170) Homepage

          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.

          Sadly, that would only make the problem worse. The last thing you want is for the government to start viewing it as a revenue stream. A revenue stream without the inconvenient word "taxes" attached to it.

          Then the government has a perverse incentive to maximize the number of people actually breaking the law, a perverse incentive to sweep up innocent people, a perverse incentive to ensure it is impossible or insanely difficult for innocent people to defend themselves.

          Just look at the stupidity that goes on with red-light cameras. The report then comes in that accidents at the intersection have gone UP rather than DOWN, and what does the government do? It shortens the yellow-duration on the light, which increase accidents (and possibly deaths) from people improperly jamming on the brakes. Why? Because the government needs to maximize the number of people "breaking the law" to increase revenue. And a special legal process is put in place to avoid the wasteful expense of accusing a person of breaking the law, along with the possible expense that they might try to defend themselves. Instead a special legal process it put in place either assigning a presumption of guilt or making it some sort of civil suit / administrative violation against the car that is being accused. A bill is simply mailed to the owner of the car. When red-light cameras are a revenue stream, minimizing the cost of processing the guilty is important to maximizing revenue. Minimizing the cost of processing the innocent, and still forcing them to pay, also becomes important to maximizing revenue.

          And don't even get started on the abuse of the various civil forfeiture laws. They turn into a major source of funding for law enforcement agencies, paying them to go out and seize as much as possible.

          Copyright law is grotesquely deformed as it is. Just imagine how much worse it would get if the government latched on to it as a revenue stream to fix desperate budget shortfalls, without having to utter the dread word "taxes".


      • Yes, one or two times the amount would be fine. The problem is, up to now, the cost to legitimately obtain it had no bearing on actual damages. But this would establish that yes, damages should be based not on some arbitrary statutory damage, but on how much it would cost to just buy the thing.

        Later judges will probably inch it up (even ten times the base cost of the product would be fine - that would make pirating a music album $100-$240, not $250,000), but the fundamental "damages are proportional to the

      • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:03PM (#38549446)
        Here's part of what the judge said in his instructions to the jury: " By statute -- and here is what the statute says -- you may award 20-20's lost profits resulting from the infringement and Real View's profits attributable to the infringement. In making this determination, you may consider what 20-20 may have reasonably charged for a license permitting Real View's use of the 20-20 Design program, any design costs that Real View saved by its use of the 20-20 Design and the development of ProKitchen and any benefit Real View obtained by its use of 20-20 Design in the development of ProKitchen." The jury ignored those instructions and incorrectly assessed a verdict based on an assumption that Real View had used infringing material in the product they sold. If they had done that and 20-20 had shown it in court, damages would have been appropriate. But no such thing was shown in court, so Real View was only entitled to actual damages equal to the cost they saved by stealing a copy of 20-20's program. As for how the courts and punish lawbreaking, there's a separate mechanism for that: award of punitive damages and court costs. There's no justification for improperly inflating actual damages.
  • by DWMorse ( 1816016 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:29PM (#38549124) Homepage
    Sudden outbreaks of common sense?? If this is forbearance to 2012, BRING ON THE FUTURE!
  • 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.
    • Everyone who distributes the file infringes copyright as a separate infringement - just because person A gets sued for their infringement doesnt mean persons B through Z are immune to the same charge for their own separate infractions.

      In other words, if 1 person distributes to 10,000 people, then sure, only one person is liable, but if those 10,000 also distribute then they are also liable. Pursuing one of those infringements doesn't invalidate the other infringements happening.

      And that is how bit torrent w

    • by tukang ( 1209392 )

      For a single stolen item the police can charge both the thief for stealing and the buyer for purchasing stolen property, so I don't see how this is any different.

      I'm against copyright law but this argument is flawed.

    • I agree with the RIAA that infringement is against the law (don't like it? work to change it), but I disagree entirely about the penalties being imposed on people pursuing absolutely no commercial interest with their infringement activities. I think that current infringement penalties are excessive and thusly not constitutional.

      For those not in America, or are simply ignorant, the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution (part of the 10 amendments we call "The Bill of Rights") reads: "Excessive ba
  • by ChumpusRex2003 ( 726306 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:06PM (#38549488)

    it's worth pointing out in this case what the reason was that prompted the jury to award such a high award in the first place.

    Both of the plaintiff and the defendant in this case are software development companies. In both cases, they produce CAD software for home and home design use. In this particular case, the particular software packages in question were those for kitchen design.

    Real view were developing a freeware CAD package which would be supported by premium-priced furniture, appliance and decoration add-ons. In contrast, 20-20, which was already a major player in this market, sold a fully featured package for $4200.

    The infringement in this case was that real view had illegally downloaded a pirate copy of 20-20's flagship product, and then used that as part of their development process for their own product. In particular, they effectively cloned the GUI and a number of other features, so that users who had previously used 20-20's product could switch to the new real view product without retraining.

  • 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 []. 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 lightknight ( 213164 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:10PM (#38549526) Homepage

    The decision sounds somewhat reasonable. Forcing the infringer to become fully-compliant with licensing, at the standard going rate for licensing appears to be a good idea. It should have the nice side effect of reducing some of the ridiculous fees that the lawyers are looking for (which are far in excess of the defendant's ability to pay), reduce the number of these incidents (as it's no longer immensely profitable to run a law firm based off of this design), and force businesses to look at their models (in much the same way that Steam has helped reduced game piracy, perhaps a tweak on the business model might reduce this variation of piracy).

    At the end of the day, you can't take money from someone who has none. *shrugs*

  • 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 nimbius ( 983462 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:29PM (#38549686) Homepage [] for reference as to what they stole. if you're running a business, you know presumably how the game is played. part of that game is licenced software, albeit many companies skirt this reality. its nice to see boris and leo (actual names of defendants) sticking up for sensibility in copyright, but as business owners i have no pity. the law exists for all business owners and arguably they would have done the exact same thing had someone plagiarized or stolen a kitchen design from them. if the defendants are reading, might i suggest giving open source drafting and design tools a whirl? gimp, blender, inkscape, Kerkythea and sketchboard are alternatives, although it means you'll not have an automated nail or screw calculator. if you're that large a firm, buy the software or support a project and request the features.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:13PM (#38550084) Homepage Journal
    A lot of the people downloading music illegally are probably living paycheck to paycheck. If you tell one of them they owe someone 1 billion dollars they can just laugh and go declare bankruptcy. The size of the number short circuits anything else. If you give them a number that's actually potentially within their means, say the cost of a Honda... say the cost of... THEIR... Honda... it feels like a much more real punishment. It's also a number not so easily dismissed by a bankruptcy court. It's probably also about 14 minutes worth of time from the RIAA lawyers, but that's really the RIAA's problem.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:16PM (#38550112)

    The plaintiff lost a potential $4200 sale. That's the extent of their damages and that's what they should receive. If the law (or the court) deems it necessary to impose punitive damages, that's OK. But the plaintiff shouldn't see any part of those (other than compensation for attorney's fees, etc.) Punishment is an issue of public policy and its the public that should receive the benefit.

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:37PM (#38550246)

    I like RMS, and I'm a huge fan of Free Software. I use Free Software, and unlike most of you armchair "does it run Linux" lazyasses, I actually WRITE Free Software. Moreover, I also prefer to say "Free Software" than "open source", and I believe that GNU/Linux is perhaps a bit redundant but certainly a fair way to describe many Linux-based systems. I value Free Software because it fosters the free exchange of ideas, facilitates innovation, saves on wasted effort, and with the GPL, it prevents corporations from "stealing" the code and profiting from it without sharing in the same way they acquired it. It's awesome, really.

    But this philosophy that intellectual property doesn't exist is absolutely bullshit pedaled by people too stupid or lazy to have or appreciate an original idea.

    Indeed, this philosophy and the GPL stand in direct contradiction. On the one hand, if you download software in violation of its licensing terms, then you haven't done anything wrong, because all you did was copy. Fine. But if you lock up GPL'd code in voilation of ITS licence, then you've done something awful? It's the same fucking thing!

    Whether or not you believe that something "intellectual" can be "property," what you have in both cases is someone (or some aggregate entity) produced some software code (or another kind of work) and chose to license it in a certain way. What's the difference? Are they any different just because one decided to lable their stuff as "Free" (based on some narrow definition of Free)? I don't think so.

    Part of the problem is that most of the people whining about this are looking for a free handout. They don't contribute anything themselves (except useless rhetoric, perhaps), but they suffer from the modern entitlement complex that makes them think that everyone else should work so that they don't have to. It's just the same as people who live their whole lives on welfare without EVER trying to get a job and contribute properly to society. IMHO, nothing entitles them to anything except to starve to death if they won't work. And the fact that they DEMAND that I pay taxes so that they don't have to lift a finger makes me loathe them completely. It's one thing if you CAN'T work. I'll gladly pay taxes to assist people who DID work, but were rendered incapable by injury. But for those who REFUSE to work and want to bitch at me because I don't want to share my paycheck with their stupid asses, they're a complete waste of oxygen.

    The fact is, in order to create a useful, interesting piece of software, you have to learn and think critically, and spend a whole hell of a lot of time and effort and sometimes money writing code and testing and debugging. GOOD software is not free (gratis) to produce. So when someone does develop software (or some other artistic work), it is no longer merely an idea. It is no longer MERELY intellectual. Although you can copy it easily, it embodies a great deal of effort, which makes if tangible, and within some reasoable bounds, they should have the right to control how that tangible is disseminated.

    Although YOU, as a freeloader, may be unable to appreciate the effort involved in creating an intellectual work, that doesn't nevertheless give you the right to steal it. Ignorance and stupidity are NOT valid excuses for violating someone else's rights. Just because YOU have never had an original thought doesn't mean that original thoughts roll off of other people entirely effort-free.

    The basic idea is that to create something of value, you have to expend effort. (Although effort doesn't necessarily produce something of value.) Of course, since you've never exerted any effort, you won't understand that, but some other people will. If you were to break that relationship, then people would have no incentive to create works of intellectual property, and then you'd have nothing to freeload off of. I think that might be a Catch 22.

    By actually expending effort and creating something of value, an individual is entitled to some

  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:00PM (#38550504)
    Because for that 4200 they should have given support and had to do a whole lot of administration. Those costs were never made, were they?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:49PM (#38550962) Homepage

    Check out Autodesk Home Styler [], 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 billybob_jcv ( 967047 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:37PM (#38551356)

    ...was making the SW easy enough to install and use that someone could download it and start using it. Oracle never makes that mistake, which is why you can download anything you want directly from otn. They know you're going to call eventually...

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?