Tuesday, July 07, 2009

RIAA Violates the Constitution, Sort of Admitted It

No, the RIAA did not send a spokesman to say “We violate the Constitution,” but they came pretty close. So some backstory: the RIAA decided to sue one Audrey Amurao, but she managed to find a competent attorney who moved for a summary judgment against the RIAA, meaning the RIAA would be deemed the losers of the suit without any real court proceedings. The brilliant attorney, Mr. Richard A. Altman, documents many of the ways in which the RIAA sues people with methods that are outside the law, including citing the “legal nonexistence of a claim for ‘making available,’” which is the big thing they go after people for.

But perhaps the most notable part of Mr. Altman’s brief is a quote from the RIAA from back in 2008, in which the an RIAA attorney said that yes, the reason why the suits brought against individuals are for such large sums of money is to scare other people away from downloading music. According to the EFF,

Recent Supreme Court rulings suggest that a jury may not award statutory damages for the express or implicit purpose of deterring other infringers who are not parties in the case before the court. In other words, the award should be aimed at deterring this defendant, not giving the plaintiff a windfall in order to send a message to others who might be tempted to infringe.

The Supreme Court, as you probably know, are the guys who say whether or not something is in violation of the Constitution, explicitly or otherwise. So we arrive at the conclusion that not only is the RIAA suing with the intent of scaring third parties, but that the RIAA is trying to scare people.

Unfortunately, this will probably do little to stop the RIAA from continuing their very illegal practices. Maybe an intrepid attorney like Mr. Altman or some of the folks over at the EFF could use this to try and get an injunction issued against the RIAA, but as it stands now, it’s just another stinkbomb in an ever-growing pile, though a large, nasty one at that.



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