Violates the constitution, says the punishment must fit the crime.
...they should not be allowed to go after individuals for sharing over Limewire, because that would be charging 2 people for the same crime.
Well it's a fine, and a fine is a punishment.
.... You get a fine for committing a crime or violating the law.
There are some interesting related, historical points that follow, but first....
This is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal lawsuit.
Even though the central complaint is regarding an alleged criminal act, this judgment addresses the alleged harm caused to the RIAA and it's members for which they are demanding compensation.
As such, there are no constitutional limitations regarding cruel and unusual punishment. Even if it were, the constitution says nothing about the punishment fitting the crime, only that the punishment can't be cruel or unusual.
Neither is this a fine, because a fine would be paid to the state, not the RIAA, and would be subject to the "unusual" limitation of the constitution.
It is, as another post stated, a debt. The action is designed to force Limewire out of functional existence, and to recover any and, apparently, every visible asset in Limewire's possession.
There are collection limitations involved, perhaps - whereby recovery of assets from non-compliant defendants deemed liable have avenues of defense even then, but they are a less limited in corporate law than if the defendant were a person. A person has just enough protection to avoid being sued "out of existence" - collection limitations are such that garnishment of wages can't exceed a fixed amount (I seem to recall it was 25% in most cases of 'living' wages, more for higher incomes perhaps). Assets can be seized with abandon, of course, but the courts stop short of actually starving someone into poverty.
Corporations, on the other hand, are given the technical equivalent of a death sentence this way, and that's the RIAA's intent.
Everyone involved is thoroughly aware than such an amount is ridiculous.
Did you know that for decades the RIAA collected a tax on every blank cassette sold in the U.S.?
I forget when this happened, but they had a fit way back in the early days of the first decent stereo cassette decks, where copies of LP vinyl records were about as good as the originals, and traded openly. Instead of going after individuals, which was tedious and expensive, they managed to arrange for a 'tax', essentially (which I think is unprecedented) a $1 was added to the cost of blank tapes to account for all the "casual piracy" the invention promoted.
Now that the tape is gone, and this replaced it many fold, they're really upset that they don't have that otherwise free income stream for nothing. They couldn't manage to automatically include CD blanks (cassettes were, apparently, deemed useless for nearly any other purpose).
Imagine if they could have gotten a similar presumption regarding the Internet....they could have been receiving a portion of our ISP service payment, just 'cause "it's what everyone does with it" - just like they assumed with the cassette tape.Edited by JVene - 6/9/10 at 5:18pm