Sunday, February 12, 2012

Capitol v. Thomas: My Latest Amicus Brief

On Friday February 10, EFF filed an amicus brief I helped write.  The case is Capitol Records, Inc. et al. v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset.  Capitol had sued Ms. Thomas for unauthorized file-sharing of 24 songs.  After a jury awarded Capitol $1.5 million in damages, the trial judge reduced the award to $54,000, which is still many, many times the actual possible damages of about $360 (24 songs times $15/album on which they appear).  Capitol appealed, asking that the jury's million-dollar award be reinstated.

EFF's amicus brief discussed two issues.  First, it argued that statutory copyright damage awards must pass constitutional due process review, which the jury's $1.5 million award clearly didn't.  Second, the brief rejected Capitol's argument that "distribution" of a copyrighted work included merely "making available" the work to others, instead of an actual transfer of unauthorized copies.

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