RIAA & Copyright: $2 Million Fine Whacky Consequence of Copyright Act

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The RIAA, in a new trial of an alleged copyright infringer who had shared 24 songs via the file-sharing service Kazaa, won almost $2 million in fines against the defendant calculated on the basis of statutory damages under the U.S. Copyright Act. (See the Wired Story here) This is an almost ten fold increase in the fines awarded to the RIAA against Thomas-Rassert from the original trial in 2007. The basis for these fines is a provision of the Copyright Act, codified at 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2), which allows for a maximum fine of $150,000 on the finding of willful infringement by the defendant. Statutory damages are available to a plaintiff who elects to not seek actual damages for the infringement proved during the trial.

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