Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shaneasia Morgan Fights Back in the Florida Panhandle

Shaneasia Morgan, sued in Pensacola, Florida, is fighting back, in Virgin v. Morgan. She has filed an answer denying the RIAA's charges, and denying that her non-commercial actions were a copyright infringement. Her answer explains that the type of file sharing of which she is accused would be protected as a fair use. In addition she seeks an award of attorneys fees against the plaintiffs.

In addition to arguing that the RIAA's $750-per-song file damages theory is unconstitutional (See November 9th decision of Judge Trager in UMG v. Lindor, in post "Judge Grants Marie Lindor's Motion....."), Ms. Morgan's answer also alleges that since, if she did infringe plaintffs' copyrights, she was an innocent infringer, the statutory damages of $750 per song should be reduced to $200 under copyright Act Section 504(c)(2):

Defendant Morgan lacks technical understanding of the filesharing concept as it has come to be employed on the Internet. Her understanding is that website owners and operators are responsible for determining the intellectual property rights of the content they make available and that she is not required to become a technical expert nor an expert in intellectual property rights in order to browse the Internet without fear of financial disaster from copyright infringement liability. If a service browsed on the Internet has caused her computer to download software and thereby created a shared folder on her computer, it was without her informed knowledge or understanding.

A copy of the complaint follows:

Complaint in Virgin v. Morgan, 3:06-cv-342 (N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division)*

Ms. Morgan is represented by George J. Little, a veteran trial lawyer and internet expert, working out of Marianna, Florida.

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

Commentary & discussion:

Keywords: digital copyright online download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs


Alter_Fritz said...

"Her answer explains that the type of file sharing of which she is accused would be protected as a fair use."
Have not read anything other regarding this case then your posttext yet, but IIRC there was already this case in the court of appeals that downloading, and keeping without paying is copyrightinfringement and not allowed fair use.
And the defense that she did not know what the software is doing is IMHO not very well choosen. In german it's called "Unwissenheit sch├╝tzt vor Strafe nicht" what the judge might say in case of finding her responsible for (non-willfull but unintentional) copyrightinfringement.

The "more then one thousand times the actual damage is unconstitutional"-defense however is IMHO a VERY GOOD defense. If more defendants [ also those that are well aware why they are sued ;-) ] would use that defense then maybe would the RIAA stop their "we sue you for 750$ each song if you don't pay 3750$"-money making sheme.
(which would also give the "guilty guys" some room to litigate with the SS-Center)

raybeckerman said...

alter_fritz, George Little is a great lawyer; he knows exactly what he is doing. I predict the RIAA will be sorry they messed with Shaneasia Morgan.

Alter_Fritz said...

I do believe your words, Ray. so probably it's just a technical thingy:
the main claim of the plainftiffs paragraph 14 is just denied by her, she does not demand proof of it!

"Absicht oder Versehen von George Little"?

BasicTek said...

I absolutely love this statement...

statutory damages must necessarily have a
reasonable relationship to the Plaintiffs’ alleged actual damages caused by the alleged
infringement (not some ephemeral speculation on the cause of lost CD sales).

"ephemeral speculation" is priceless but sooo true.

This one is good too...

37. The Plaintiffs, who are competitors, are a cartel acting collusively in violation of the
antitrust laws and of public policy, in an attempt to expand their monopoly power into the area of online digital music, by tying their copyrights to each other, collusively litigating and settling all cases together, and by entering into an unlawful agreement among themselves to prosecute and to dispose of all cases in accordance with a uniform agreement, and through common lawyers, thus overreaching the bounds and scope of whatever copyrights they might have. As such, they are guilty of misuse of their copyrights.

I sure hope they get a judge that understands what is going on.

Another nail getting hit right on the head...

39. The Plaintiffs have engaged in many acts with respect to this and other similar lawsuits which are an affront to due process, fair dealings, and judicial economy. Traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice as imbedded in the Constitution of the United States are offended by the filing and prosecution of this action and by the collusive and oppressive system which has been created and employed by the Plaintiffs to choose defendants least likely to be able to defend themselves in order to allegedly protect large corporations from loss of revenues, which losses are not attributable in any significant way to the alleged actions of the majority of defendants they have chosen to file these actions against.

And the finaly...

48. Defendant Morgan has required the services of the undersigned attorney but is
financially unable to pay for said services. Defendant Morgan obligates herself financially to the
undersigned to the extent that attorneys’ fees may be recoverable in this action. Defendant
Morgan is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees should she prevail in whole or in part in this

This lawyer seems to have done his homework for sure. Now time for a judge to be worth a ....!

raybeckerman said...

George Little is the right guy for this. He's going to give them hell.