Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sony lawyer insists $150,000 a fair price for an unlicensed upload

The retrial of Jammie Thomas, accused of breaching copyrights and destroying the US music industry, has got underway, already yielding one of those moments where music industry witnesses say the most amazing things with a straight face, as ArsTechnica reports:

Defense lawyer Kiwi Camara pressed Sony Entertainment's Gary Leak[...], trying to force him to [put a value on each infringement]. Leak refused to be baited. It was "impossible to determine harm" in this case, he said, which is why the labels want statutory damages that can range from $750 to $150,000 per song.

Camara pressed again. "A message should be sent," Leak said. But Camara wanted numbers; what, in Leak's view, did Thomas-Rasset owe Sony?

"You can't tell the jury a number?" he asked aggressively. No, said Leak, it's up to them to decide; the law allows these damages, and we are asking only what's allowed under the law. The jury must pick the award.

Camara wouldn't give it up. He asked if, by Leak's logic, even the maximum $150,000 per song damage award would therefore be an appropriate amount.

Leak at last gave in. "Certainly!" he said in apparent exasperation, milliseconds before an objection from recording industry lawyers put an end to that line of questioning.

Gary Leak is, by the way, a music industry lawyer. So that was one music industry lawyer having to rescue another music industry lawyer. But not before Leak had said - after making a promise on the Bible about God to tell the truth - that there was no reason at all to think that charging the equivalent of thousands and thousands of downloads was in any way absurd. Because, you know, the law lets you.

The case continues.


3 comments:

patrick said...

Incredible. It would be difficult to estimate the billions blogspot users would owe if this were the case.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic but I spotted a frustrating and baffling piracy one earlier on the bbc site. It as a thing from some guy from Kudos, the company that makes Spooks, saying that piracy will kill quality TV. I didn't bother watching the video because I wouldn't have been able to hear it over my own rage at such a stupid bloody comment. How will it kill quality TV? I can only presume that he is suggesting that piracy takes money away from DVD sales or subscription services but I seem to remember that twenty years ago people didn't buy TV series on VHS in the quantity they do nowadays (hell, even ten years ago) and subscription services (SKY, BSB, etc.) were still in their infancy. Yet TV companies were able to make quality TV. Ten years further back than that and there was neither of these options and yet there was still quality TV. Perhaps he concerned about advertisers stopping buying TV space but I've not noticed any decline (not that it should effect his license funded show). I'll not even go into the fact that I can probably watch his show for free legally on iPlayer. What I would suggest is more of a threat to quality TV is dragging out an idea (which may well have been entertaining but, lets face it, was never particularly original) for seven series and then moaning about how you're not getting to make more TV? I wouldn't let you either. At least in music recording industry you can understand the problem even if their method of dealing with it is absurd ($150k is having a laugh) and based on their false belief that they deserve an industry that only exists because of the technology available at the time it began. In TV land, they really have no argument at all.

Andrew said...

Well, to act as an effective deterrent, the severity of the penalty must be exponentially proportional to the probability of getting away with it, and unfortunately for the MAFIAA, copyright infringement is not yet a capital crime.

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