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Thread: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

  1. #11
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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    1) We do this all the time. Littering carries a $500 fine - is that because someone littering actually costs $500, or because it's so hard to catch someone littering that you have to make the fine big to deter it?
    The people who are prosecuted for littering usually aren't the people who throw a candy bar wrapper on the ground. They're the people who take all of the trash from their house or business and just dump it on the side of the road. And $500 does seem reasonable for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC
    2) "Prosecute" was a bad choice of words on my part - this is a civil trial. In civil trials, the rationale is even stronger. If they only awarded nominal damages, it would not be cost efficient for the injured party to sue and it would effectively result in a repeal of a law via nuisance.
    Well that's too bad for the plaintiff if it isn't cost-effective to sue. It does not warrant such an excessive punishment.

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC
    3) What makes you say it will get thrown out on appeal?
    For one thing, the 8th amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The punishment here does not fit the crime. Let's look at her crime: 24 counts of illegal music downloads, for each of which she was fined $80,000. The market value of the songs is approximately $1 each.

    If she had stolen an item from the dollar store, would she have been fined $80,000? No. If she had stolen a single copy of a song from a CD store, would she have been fined $80,000? No. Hell, even if she had illegally downloaded hardcore child pornography instead of songs, would she have been fined $80,000 per download? Probably not.

    The punishment here is so excessive (especially when compared to other crimes of this nature of equal or greater severity) that it is ridiculous.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 06-19-09 at 01:03 AM.
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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Hmmm.....the law says up to $80,000 per download, huh?

    Amendment 8 - Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    Some law makers need to be horsewhipped as soon as the appeals court throws out the fine.

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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    If you wanted to be punitive, slap her with a $1000 dollar fine, maybe plus attorneys fees. That would be painful enough to make people worry about the consequences. Charging $1.8 million is simply unacceptable.

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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    The people who are prosecuted for littering usually aren't the people who throw a candy bar wrapper on the ground. They're the people who take all of the trash from their house or business and just dump it on the side of the road. And $500 does seem reasonable for that.
    Not necessarily

    Got a group of kids for littering once when I witnessed them throw eggs at other people's cars while in a moving vehicle.

    It was the most punitive thing I could come up with, and it works, because they are littering.
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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Quote Originally Posted by Caine View Post
    Not necessarily

    Got a group of kids for littering once when I witnessed them throw eggs at other people's cars while in a moving vehicle.

    It was the most punitive thing I could come up with, and it works, because they are littering.
    Well OK, but you were REALLY busting them for vandalism, even if the actual charge was littering, right? I would assume you don't often arrest people for small stuff like throwing a McDonald's wrapper out their car window?
    Last edited by Kandahar; 06-19-09 at 01:36 AM.
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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Quote Originally Posted by Arch Enemy View Post
    How do they select which person is to get caught? This is something that baffles me. I could get onto a Peer to Peer Network right now and give an IP Address to someone who has all sorts of illegal music, games, and movies.
    They have been known to warn people but the first few cases were to make examples. The way you are marked is at random and its a simple case of going to the ISP for the information, depending on the ISP. Some ISPs have stated they will never, under any circumstances turn over information about its users. Verizon is one of them. Other ISPs have no problem turning over user data. AT&T is one of them.
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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    The people who are prosecuted for littering usually aren't the people who throw a candy bar wrapper on the ground. They're the people who take all of the trash from their house or business and just dump it on the side of the road. And $500 does seem reasonable for that.
    $500 seems reasonable for both, because the point is to deter.

    Well that's too bad for the plaintiff if it isn't cost-effective to sue. It does not warrant such an excessive punishment.
    Congress disagreed by passing the laws to permit such damages.

    For one thing, the 8th amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The punishment here does not fit the crime. Let's look at her crime: 24 counts of illegal music downloads, for each of which she was fined $80,000. The market value of the songs is approximately $1 each.
    This isn't a government punishment, it's civil damages. If a company does something really egregious, the jury can award punitive damages. That doesn't violate the Eighth Amendment.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar View Post
    Hmmm.....the law says up to $80,000 per download, huh?

    Some law makers need to be horsewhipped as soon as the appeals court throws out the fine.
    This is a civil damages award, not a criminal fine. Some citizens need to be taught the constitution.
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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    The 1.8 million caught everyone's attention even if overturned.
    A $1000 fine and legal expenses would barely get any press.

    Not commenting on overkill or not, just the tactic to generate press.

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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    This is a civil damages award, not a criminal fine. Some citizens need to be taught the constitution.
    Wait, you're telling us that the company is getting the money?

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    Re: Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    $500 seems reasonable for both, because the point is to deter.
    And $500 would be OK for illegally downloading 24 songs as well. $1.9 million, on the other hand, is ridiculous.

    Would you fine someone $1.9 million for throwing a bag of McDonald's out of their car window? After all, the point is to deter. Maybe we should skip the fines and go directly to execution.

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC
    Congress disagreed by passing the laws to permit such damages.
    And I guess this is where your JD and my MBA clash. If it isn't cost-effective for a company to sue, that sounds like a good rationale for NOT suing...not a good rationale for imposing ridiculous fines on the offender.

    One wonders why they don't just target a big-time offender who it WOULD be cost-effective to sue instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC
    This isn't a government punishment, it's civil damages. If a company does something really egregious, the jury can award punitive damages. That doesn't violate the Eighth Amendment.
    And you think illegal music downloads are "really egregious"? So egregious that they warrant a fine 80,000 times larger than the value of the songs?

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC
    This is a civil damages award, not a criminal fine. Some citizens need to be taught the constitution.
    Then fine her $1 per song in compensatory damages and $10 per song in punitive damages, for a total of $264.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 06-19-09 at 01:55 AM.
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