Statutory damages are a huge weapon under the DMCA for copyright infringement, as well as other federal intellectual property states such as the ACPA for domain name cybersquatting.
DoJ says $222,000 damages in Capitol v. Thomas trial not unconstitutional
The US government has weighed in on the constitutionality of the $222,000 damage award in Capitol v. Thomas with a brief filed yesterday. The government suggests that the court avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the statutory damages clause of the Copyright Act. Should the court feel the need to rule on the constitutionality, it should find that the damages award does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. After a three-day trial, single mother Jammie Thomas was found to have willfully infringed on the record label's copyrights. The jury awarded the RIAA statutory damages of $9,250 per song, for a total of $222,000, out of a maximum of $150,000 per track.
Statutory damages were requested by the RIAA because true damages would be difficult to calculate. However, it is likely that the statutory damages exceed actual damages despite the fact that other users accessed the files in the KaZaA share in question and committed further acts of copyright infringement. The issue of whether making a file available for download on a P2P network constitutes distribution is likely to be hotly contested on appeal. This was a contentious issue during the trial, with the court ultimately ruling that making files available for download constituted distribution. The case is currently on appeal.
Technorati Tags: DMCA, RIAA, copyright