Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Final witness of June 16th in Capitol v. Thomas-Rasset

The final witness called by Plaintiffs this afternoon was Betsy Brown, contract administrator for Warner Bros. Records.

Her testimony was mostly procedural, being asked about copyright certificates, if the works produced were works for hire, whether or not any of the works alleged were owned by Warner Bros records, and whether or not the CDs were those alleged infringed. She was asked to point out some copyright notices on CD jewel cases and listen to both an MP3 version MediaSentry acquired and a retail version of one of Warner's songs at issue in this case.

During her testimony the three Warner certified copyright registration certificates and CDs were moved into evidence.

The final direct question was whether or not Warner authorized Jammie Thomas-Rasset to distribute their works, to which she testified that they did not.

The cross examination was very brief, just asking approximately how many records each of these three infriged works sold. She testified that she believed all three had gone platinum, which is more than one million sales.

The only housekeeping question presented to the court at the conclusion of the day was a defense question if they should start talking about end of trial preparations such as jury instruction since the defense believes they may complete testimony tomorrow. The Plaintiffs have three witnesses remaining (which includes the recall of Wade Leak), and the defense estimates their case will take less than half a day. The judge indicates that he has to be on a plane by mid-afternoon (I assume tomorrow, but it was not explicitly stated) and asked the parties if they would be ready to close on Friday (I assume this means no proceedings on Thursday, but again this was not explicitly stated). The parties indicated that they would be, and each side indicated they would need about a half hour for closing.

The case will resume tomorrow morning without the jury at 8am for any discussion of proposed jury instruction or other necessary matters and the trial will resume at 9am.

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

1 comment:

Gamer Curmudgeon said...

Again, here are the questions (not necessarily for Ray to answer, but just throwing them out there) from the non-lawyer.

1. Is the plaintiff required to show "substantial similarity" for each of the songs they are claiming infringement on? If so, then shouldn't each of these be played for the jury compared to the data as downloaded by the MS investigator. From the coverage, it appeared that a substantial portion of these claimed infringing songs were only partial downloads, and that playing these files (with the random data blocks from the non-downloaded segments) might result in a jury finding that they were not substantially similar.

2. From the coverage, it seems that the defense would have a case to make in motions or at least closing, to say. Plaintiffs claim 24 songs infringing. They can prove ownership of only X. Of those X, this many were improperly registered, and thus they are not eligible to collect damages on until they are properly registered. This leaves Y songs that they can claim infringement on. Of those Y songs, they showed you a comparison with the original only on these Z songs. So, it is only for these songs which they have presented a full case on that the jury can use to find whether as a fact, they are substantially similar, and then to assess what the damages should be. (I hope that made some sense).

3. I'm extremely curious why the defense hasn't seemed to be as vigorous in the courtroom in challenging the plaintiffs as they were in motions prior to trial. In motions they appeared to point out that they intended to challenge every aspect of ownership and registration of the copyrights, but according to the coverage, this appears to have fizzled out. They also appear to have allowed their own expert witness to be hamstrung in his testimony without putting up a similar challenge to the RIAA expert witness. Any speculation as to what happened here?