Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
The Courts Piracy United States

Jammie Thomas Takes Constitutional Argument To SCOTUS 146

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Native American Minnesotan found by a jury to have downloaded 24 mp3 files of RIAA singles, has filed a petition for certioriari to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the award of $220,000 in statutory damages is excessive, in violation of the Due Process Clause. Her petition (PDF) argued that the RIAA's litigation campaign was 'extortion, not law,' and pointed out that '[a]rbitrary statutory damages made the RIAA's litigation campaign possible; in turn,that campaign has inspired copycats like the so-called Copyright Enforcement Group; the U.S. Copyright Group, which has already sued more than 20,000 individual movie downloaders; and Righthaven, which sued bloggers. This Court should grant certiorari to review this use of the federal courts as a scourge.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Jammie Thomas Takes Constitutional Argument To SCOTUS

Comments Filter:
  • Good luck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @07:23AM (#42271005)
    They have been bought off by the RIAA
  • by Stolpskott ( 2422670 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @07:31AM (#42271045)

    The one thing I can see in favor of the case being heard is the argument that the current method for establishing statutory damages leads to a pattern of overly broad legislation on the part of RIAA/MPAA-inspired copyright entities, leading to an excessive drain on time and resources of the lower courts.

  • Re:Good luck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @08:43AM (#42271419) Journal

    That money just buys the status quo. Put their backs against the wall, and things may change.

    The current US Supreme Court with it's majority of pro-corporatist right-wing ideologues can not have it's back up against the wall because they are the wall.

  • 0% (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:01AM (#42271501) Homepage Journal

    I didn't read the case, but if the summary is correct, they're making the wrong argument. SCOUTS will say that Congress established the law and that if the law is being followed then Due Process is served.

    They should be making a case that the statutory damages constitute 'unusual punishment' and are far outside all other punitive damage amounts ever considered by copyright law in precedent (because Congress has been bought off).

  • Re:Good luck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:15AM (#42272245)

    While the Supreme judges are untouchable once they get in, it isn't possible to get in without playing the political power games. They need to be appointed by a president and approved by congress, which in turn means they need political support. The easiest route is to follow one of the major party lines on most or all issues, which wins the support of that party. A judge with a history of upsetting the political leaders by, for example, following a permissive intepretation of copyright law is never going to be appointed, and wouldn't be approved even then.

  • The difference is downloading isn't providing copyrighted materials to others. Where as uploading is. Legality of downloading could be argued, but would only be one count per download. The illegality of uploading copyrighted material is known, and get one count per upload. So, yes. The damages should be different. Now, that doesn't mean I agree with the way the system is currently set up.

    Not quite - the count is "per work infringed", not "per infringing copy", so you don't multiply the counts by the number of uploads or downloads. However, you're right that there's a huge difference between uploading and downloading: if you only download once, you actually have a reasonable damage-mitigation argument that you only owe the copyright owner $1 for the song. If you upload, however, you owe them the cost of a distribution license... which could be tens or hundreds of thousands (for example, Michael Jackson bought the distribution rights to a bunch of Beatles' songs for around $100k each). When Apple is paying that much in royalties to be able to distribute the latest Katy Perry song on iTunes, for example, it's tough for a defendant to argue that they should be able to also distribute it but only owe $1.

  • Re:0% (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:12PM (#42275365) Journal

    Michael Jackson made a business transaction that gave him an expected revenue stream associated with his outlay.

    Jammie Thomas shared some files.

    If you can't see the difference, and don't realise how stupid it is to compare one to the other, then I can understand why you aren't sympathetic to her. However, you should be.

    How is the award against her remotely proportionate? Where exactly did Capitol Records lose $220k as a result of her minor transgression? At which point did she realise hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue as a result of distributing those files?

    I haven't even started to challenge you on the stupidity of the current IP laws, we're still merely discussing the punitive nature of this award. Because I don't care what the legal definition is, this is excessively punitive.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein