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Obama administration sides with RIAA, supports $150,000 fine per music track
Submitted by jonathan on Tue, 2009-03-24 08:49
by David Kravets, Threat Level/Wired
The Obama administration for the first time is weighing in on a Recording Industry Association of America file sharing lawsuit and is supporting hefty awards of as much as $150,000 per purloined music track.
The government said the damages range of $750 to $150,000 per violation of the Copyright Act was warranted.
"The remedy of statutory damages for copyright infringement has been the cornerstone of our federal copyright law since 1790, and Congress acted reasonably in crafting the current incarnation of the statutory damages provision," Michelle Bennett, a Department of Justice trial attorney wrote (.pdf) Sunday to a Massachusetts federal judge weighing challenge to the Copyright Act.
Two top lawyers in President Barack Obama's Justice Department are former RIAA lawyers: Donald Verrilli Jr. is the associate deputy attorney general who brought down Grokster and fought to prevent a retrial in the Jammie Thomas case. Then there's the No. 2 in the DOJ, Tom Perrilli. As Verrilli's former boss, Perrilli argued in 2002 that internet service providers should release customer information to the RIAA even without a court subpoena.
Presidential administrations often intervene in lawsuits in which the constitutionality of a federal law is in question. This case concerns a former Boston University student challenging a peer-to-peer file sharing case.
Still, parts of the government's brief sounded as if it was taken from the RIAA's public relations playbook.
"Congress sought to account for both the difficulty of quantifying damages in the context of copyright infringement and the need to deter millions of users of new technology from infringing copyrighted work in an environment where many violators believe that their activities will go unnoticed," Bennett wrote.
The RIAA has sued more than 30,000 individuals for file sharing the last five years. It is winding down the campaign and is lobbying internet service providers to discontinue service to copyright scofflaws.article originally published at http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/03/obama-sides-wit.html.