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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.'"
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Jammie Thomas Takes Constitutional Argument To SCOTUS

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  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:02AM (#42271507)

    ... leading to an excessive drain on time and resources of the lower courts.

    You do realize that they recently agreed to kill the class action lawsuit, a legal tool designed specifically to address this problem, right? The courts don't give a damn about the "time and resources" of the courts. Criminals can rot in jail for months or years before trial, who cares? Oh wait, many of them are innocent? Well they can't be that innocent, or they wouldn't have been arrested to begin with. In the few cases where people (not corporations) have organized to overwhelm the courts, they simply changed their procedures and rubber stamped them all into jail or with large fines. See also: Every major protest in the United States in the past 40 years. Hell, they prebuild jails complete with offices next to them for the public defenders, who they also fly them in from other states just to be on hand for those pesky outbreaks of First Amendmentitus.

    Please. Efficiency is not a goal here. Destroying your very will to live is. You will accede to the wishes of your corporate overlords, or be buried in so many civil and criminal procedures that you'll wish you were dead.

  • Re:by my estimation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:02AM (#42272053)

    Note the RIAA has never published music, and is not a music publisher so should have no right to fine uploaders/distributors /publishers

    They represent some of the Music Publishers in the USA, but not all of them, and not all music publishers across the world

    But they will and have tried to prosecute people for uploading material where the copyright is not owned by the people they represent, even outside the USA

  • Re:0% (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2012 @11:41AM (#42273701) 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).

    Except that the statutory damages are compensatory in nature, not punitive. They're also reasonably related to the cost of a distribution license for a work. Accordingly, Congress was within its Article 1, Sec. 8 powers to set those levels, and they're constitutional.

    The better argument is that the RIAA and MPAA are twisting the definition of "willful" infringement to conflate two of the statutory levels of damages: statutory damages are "up to $200" for innocent infringement, where you honestly believe that the work is not under copyright (e.g. if you didn't know that P.D.Q. Bach was Peter Schikele and thought he really was a son of J.S. Bach and has been dead for hundreds of years); "from $750 to $30,000" for 'normal' infringement; and "up to $150,000" for 'willful' infringement. The RIAA has argued that 'willful' means 'anything that's not innocent', and they end up removing that middle range of damages. That's contrary to Congress' intention.

    Thing is, it hasn't come up yet as an argument, because Thomas and Tenenbaum and others keep arguing that all statutory damages are punitive, or that they have fair use rights, or that there's an implied exception for non-commercial infringement, and none of those arguments have been successful. They haven't raised the $750-30k range argument because, in their eyes, they shouldn't have to pay anything, so even a few thousand is a "loss". As a result, the judges hearing these cases only have the RIAA's argument for willfulness, and with nothing to the contrary in front of them, they side with it.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost