Thursday, September 23, 2010

Supreme Court Might Hear "Innocent Infringer" Copyright Case

Whitney Harper was a high school student who downloaded some songs using Kazaa.  She claims she thought file-sharing downloading was the same as listening to an Internet radio station.  When the RIAA sued her for illegal file-sharing, she tried to claim "innocent infringer" status under the Copyright Act, limiting statutory damages to $200 per work (instead of the usual $750 minimum). 

While the district court agreed with Harper, the Fifth Circuit reversed.  The appeals court agreed with the RIAA that putting copyright notices on the CD's containing the songs defeated an innocent infringer case -- even though Harper never saw the CD's, having downloaded the songs instead.

Harper asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.   Very few such petitions are granted, so the RIAA initially didn't even respond to Harper's petition.  Now, as Techdirt, Ars Technica and Copyrights and Campaigns have reported, the Court has asked the RIAA to respond.  This greatly increases the chance that the Court will agree to hear the case.

No comments:

Post a Comment