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[Wired] MPAA Says No Proof Needed in P2P Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

post #1 of 100
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The Motion Picture Association of America said Friday intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect damages, perhaps as much as $150,000 per copyright violation, without having to prove infringement.

"Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances," MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote Friday to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.

"It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement," van Uitert wrote on behalf of the movie studios, a position shared with the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Thomas, the single mother of two.

A Duluth, Minnesota, jury in October dinged Thomas $222,000 for "making available" 24 songs on the Kazaa network in the nation's first and only RIAA case to go to trial. United States District Court Judge Michael Davis instructed the 12 panelists that they need only find Thomas had an open share folder, not that anyone from the public actually copied her files.

(It is technologically infeasible to determine whether the public is copying an open share folder, although the RIAA makes its own downloads from defendants' share folders, produces screen shots and, among other things, captures an IP address. An Arizona judge ruled last month in a different case that those downloads count against a defendant, a one-of-a-kind decision being appealed on grounds that the RIAA was authorized to download its own music.)

Judge Davis suggested last month that he might have erred in giving that "making available" jury instruction, and invited briefing from the community at large. A hearing is set for August, and the judge is mulling whether to order a mistrial.

The deadline to submit briefs to the judge was Friday. Among the briefs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the United States Internet Industry Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association all jointly filed a brief, saying the law did not allow damages for "attempted" copyright infringement.

"Given the serious consequences that flow from copyright’s strict liability regime, the court should resist plaintiffs imprecations to expand that regime absent an unequivocal expression of Congressional intent," the groups wrote, noting that the language in the Copyright Act demands actual distribution to the public of protected works.

It was a similar brief in tone to the one that a group of 10 intellectual property scholars lodged earlier in the week.

But the MPAA, long an ally to the RIAA, which has sued more than 20,000 individuals for file sharing of copyrighted music, told Judge Davis that peer-to-peer users automatically should be liable for infringement.

"The only purpose for placing copyrighted works in the shared folder is, of course, to 'share,' by making those works available to countless other P2P networks," the MPAA wrote.

(Click here for Threat Level's in-depth look at the Thomas case, its implications and Judge Davis' decision to rethink his jury instruction.)

Other groups meeting Davis' deadline include the Intellectual Property Institute at William Mitchell College of Law and the Progress & Freedom Foundation.
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post #2 of 100
Bunch of nonsense, isn't it?
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post #3 of 100
I thought u had to have PROOF before u can win a case.
post #4 of 100
How the heck does the MPAA sue only one person for copyright infringement, when there are probably billions more people downloading without any firewalls even?
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post #5 of 100
They sue a single mother of two for 200 grand. I would ****ing vomit on their shoes if I saw them.

And what is this NONSENSE about not needing PROOF IN TRIAL?
Who do these people think they are?
    
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post #6 of 100
Well since they can't sue everyone, they try to pick on a select few. By sueing these individuals for a huge amount of money, they are causing fear for the other people who are sharing files. Basically it's a "scare tactic."
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post #7 of 100
Soon they'll be suing people who puts songs on Youtube. :\\
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post #8 of 100
Alright. Looks like everyone with an IP is guilty
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post #9 of 100
I think it is fairly important to remember that intent is a big part of determining guilt or levels thereof. Placing files in an openly accessible folder via a p2p network IS piracy. Criminal intent is a deeply debated and widely explored facet of most judicial systems... and is no different in this case.

Now... with that said, I do believe the IP laws in this country need to be re-evaluated given the new age of digitial media. Furthermore, the RIAA and MPAA should be held accountable for their flagrant misuse of the legal system to scare citizens into compliance with their interpretation of copyright infringement.

I for one, am still trying to resolve my own personal and moral response to IP, copyright infringement and piracy in the age of easily accesible digital reproduction and distribution.
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post #10 of 100
:/

This is un-American...
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