December 06, 2007

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Justice filed its brief in support of the argument that a $220,000 damage award in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is constitutional. In October, 2007, the RIAA was successful in its claim against Jammie Thomas for copyright infringement of twenty-four (24) specific songs in suit by her use of the Kazaa file sharing service. Thomas argued that the Kazaa music folder was not hers, but evidence pointed to her ownership of that particular file on the file sharing network. Thomas was accused of distributing the copyrighted files back in 2005, and the jury awarded the RIAA $9,250 for each violation (which is within the $750 to $30,000 statutory range). According to the Yahoo! news article (link below), Jeffrey Bucholtz, the Acting Assistant Attorney General, wrote in his brief that "Given the findings of copyright infringement in this case, the damages awarded under the Copyright Act's statutory damages provision did not violate the Due Process Clause" of the Constitution, and that the damages were not "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense...." According to the InternetNews.com article (link below), Bucholtz’s Memorandum in Defense of the Constitutionality of the Statutory Damages Provision of the Copyright Act filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota asserted that “the award[s] in the case were not disproportionate or unreasonable and were in line with the provisions of the Copyright Act.”

Yahoo! News Article: LINK
InternetNews.com Article: LINK
Judgment of October, 2007: LINK

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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