Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Obama DOJ files similar brief defending RIAA statutory damages theory, this time in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Cloud

In SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Cloud, a Philadelphia case, the Obama Justice Department has filed a similar brief defending the constitutionality of the RIAA's statutory damages theory that it is entitled to recover from $750 to $150,000 for a single MP3 file.

This brief appears to have been written by a different attorney than the attorney in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum.

Like the Tenenbaum brief, this brief likewise ignores Parker v. Time Warner, Napster, UMG v. Lindor, and Atlantic v. Brennan, and the Georgetown and University of Texas Law Review Articles, all cited in the amicus curiae brief of the Free Software Foundation in Tenenbaum

US Department of Justice brief arguing constitutionality of RIAA's statutory damages theory

Commentary & discussion:
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Intellectual Property Watch

Keywords: lawyer digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property portable music player


Anonymous said...

Is this the Change you voted for?

{The Common Man Speaking}

Anonymous said...

The following is so incredibly bad that it has to be quoted in its entirety.

Defendant’s claim that holding her liable for statutory damages pursuant to the Copyright Act violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment should be examined under the standard articulated by the Supreme Court in St. Louis, I.M. & S. 1The United States assumes Defendant is raising an as-applied constitutional challenge to the Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision. To the extent Defendant is advancing a facial challenge to the statute, she must “establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the Act would be valid” in order to succeed. U.S. v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 745 (1987). However, in a case, for example, where a copyright owner suffered actual damages of $750, statutory damages authorized by the Copyright Act, which can be as low as $750, would not necessarily be excessive. That being the case, a facial challenge to the statute at issue would have to fail. 2 Railway Co. v. Williams, 251 U.S. 63, 67 (1919), and not, as Defendant suggests, under the standard for evaluating punitive damages awards. Under the Williams standard, applying the Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision to Defendant does not violate due process because the damages imposed would not necessarily be “so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable.” Williams, 251 U.S. at 67. Given the difficulty in quantifying actual damages for infringement of copyrights over music recordings and the public interest in deterring online music piracy, a statutory damages award within the range set by Congress would be reasonable in this case.

Defendant’s claim that the Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision violates the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment should also fail because the Eighth Amendment does not apply here. The Eighth Amendment only applies to an award of money damages in a civil action if the United States brings the action or has a right to receive a share of the damages awarded. Neither of these preconditions is met in this case.

And this is your tax dollars at work!

To say that it doesn't violate due process because it isn't "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable" is a farce. Any ordinary person can see that these amounts are insane when applied to individuals and not wholesale copyright piracy gangs.

To say that because you say you can't quantify actual damages and you proclaim a public interest in deterring online music piracy that this somehow justifies going so far over-the-top in damages as to outrage the sense and sentiment of the public at large seems counterproductive, to say the least.

To say that "the Eighth Amendment does not apply here" is just frakking stupid. Don't you just love it when you're told that your supposed Constitutional rights simply don't apply because you're being sued by a group of private companies instead of the government?

How do we vote these people out of office NOW?

{The Common Man Outraged}

raybeckerman said...

The briefs are weak primarily because the RIAA's position is untenable, and the Government is going out on a limb to defend the RIAA's untenable position.

blaine said...

Ray, are you're aware of any previous administration either involving itself as amicus or moving to intervene in a punitive damages or statutory damages case? I think the Clinton and Bush administrations did not do so, and I therefore find it very interesting that the Obama administration has chosen to.

raybeckerman said...

The Bush administration did the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Aren't some of the higher ups in the Obama DOJ formerly part of a law firm that did work for the RIAA?

Anonymous said...

Chris, read some of Ray's posts from a month ago and you'll get the details.