A case testing the meaning of the so-called “innocent infringer’s” defense to the Copyright Act’s minimum fine of $750 per music track that is downloaded or shared illegally has landed at the U.S. Supreme Court, Wired reports. The case the justices were asked to review May 26 concerns a federal appeals court’s February decision ordering a university student to pay the Recording Industry Association of America $27,750 ($750 per track) for file-sharing 37 songs when she was a high school cheerleader. That decision reversed a Texas federal judge who had ordered defendant Whitney Harper to pay $7,400 (or $200 per song). The lower court, without a trial, had granted her the innocent infringer’s exemption to the Copyright Act’s minimum fine, because the teen claimed she didn’t know she was violating copyrights. The appeals court, however, said she was not eligible for such a defense, even though she was between 14 and 16 years old when the infringing activity occurred on LimeWire. The appeals court concluded that the Copyright Act precludes such a defense if the legitimate CDs of the music in question carry copyright notices—but Harper’s attorneys argued she should get the benefit of the $200 innocent-infringer fine, because the digital files in question contained no copyright notice. The High Court justices have the option of taking the case and issuing a ruling, or declining to hear it altogether……Read More
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Minnesota song-sharing case heads for third trial
A trade group representing the major music labels on Jan. 27 said it will reject a reduced penalty for a central Minnesota woman found guilty of sharing 24 songs over the internet and instead will begin preparing for another trial to determine new damages, reports the Associated Press. The Recording Industry Association of America made the decision after attorneys for Jammie Thomas-Rasset rejected an offer from RIAA attorneys to settle for $25,000. It will be the third time the case, which dates back to 2006, will go to trial. Last year, a federal jury ruled Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four, willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs. She was ordered to pay $1.92 million in damages, or $80,000 per song. Last week, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis reduced the verdict to about $54,000 in damages, calling the jury’s penalty “monstrous and shocking.” The RIAA has until Feb. 8 to either accept or reject the reduced penalty. The group said it would do the latter, meaning a new trial will be scheduled to determine damages. The RIAA says that while a third trial is not in anyone’s best interest, the group is pursuing the case to show that Thomas-Rasset was responsible for copyright infringements and that serious damage was caused. “It is a shame that Ms. Thomas-Rasset continues to deny any responsibility for her actions, rather than accept a reasonable settlement offer and put this case behind her,” said RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth……Read More