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Tuesday, 28 September 2010 10:04

US Supreme Court wants to take on RIAA

Written by Nick Farell


Appeal Case testing
The US Supreme Court is keen to get its teeth into a RIAA file sharing case.

Apparently it has requested that the music labels’ litigation arm respond to a case testing the so-called “innocent infringer” defence to copyright infringement. A federal appeals court’s February decision ordered a university student to pay the Recording Industry Association of America $27,750, or $750 a track for file-sharing 37 songs when she was a high school cheerleader.

The appeals court decision reversed a Texas federal judge who, decided that the young woman Whitney Harper was an innocent infringer, ordered her to pay $7,400 — or $200 per song. Harper was one of 20,000 individuals the RIAA has sued for file-sharing music. If the Supremes agree, the innocent-infringer defense to the Copyright Act’s minimum $750-per-music-track fine may apply to online file sharing.

Harper said she thought file sharing was akin to internet radio streaming.The appeals court, however, said she was not eligible for that defence, even though she was between 14 and 16 years old when the infringing activity occurred on LimeWire.

Nick Farell

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