The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a Texas teenager who got in trouble for illegal downloading of music—a potential blow to students who might claim to be “innocent infringers” of copyright laws after downloading music without paying and bogging down campus networks.
Whitney Harper of Texas acknowledged she used file-sharing programs to download and share three dozen songs, claiming she didn’t know the program she used was taking songs from the internet illegally.
She also said the money she owes the recording industry should be reduced because, as a 16-year-old, she didn’t know that what she did amounted to copyright infringement.
The justices rejected Harper’s appeal Nov. 29 over a dissent from Justice Samuel Alito.
The issue in the case is whether people who illegally download and swap music online can try to show they did so innocently. Harper wanted the money owed for each song cut to $200 from $750.