Universal Music: when we get hit with copyright damages, that's "unconstitutionally excessive"


15 Responses to “Universal Music: when we get hit with copyright damages, that's "unconstitutionally excessive"”

  1. noen says:

    Well of course they think that way. These people never think the rules apply to them, rules are for little people.

  2. zikman says:

    there was probably some lawyer working for universal who was like “hey… hey guys. let’s try and plead that the charges filed against us are ‘unconstitutionally excessive’ and see if we can get away with it!”


  3. shmengie says:

    if they were smart, they’d pay it and issue a press release stating that they accept full responsibility for their actions and accept the jury’s fair decision and are very sorry. they can then sue the pants off of you and me with a clear conscience, haven taken the high road.

    right. that’ll happen.

  4. adonai says:

    So if they can get away with pleading excessiveness, does that set a precedent for Jammie Thomas to use in her appeal?

  5. Brian Damage says:

    In summary, gold digger sues hypocrite when corpse samples cadaver.

  6. Fnarf says:

    Yes, shouldn’t their penalty be $150,000 for each copy of the record that has the sample? Say, one million copies, so $150 bn? Sounds about right.
    I can’t wait for all the record companies to go out of business. They have nothing to offer anyone.

  7. CopyrightMe says:

    This will come back to bite them in the arse. Let’s hope the bite leaves permanent scars.

  8. huntsu says:

    But if I get fined thousands for EACH SONG I download, why doesn’t the record company get fined for EACH COPY they pirated?

  9. Ugly Canuck says:

    Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
    These are the Rules Universal wanted. Now they don’t like ‘em.
    The easiest way to make a Liberal out of a Conservative is to place them under Arrest.
    “Liberal” = “lover of Liberty”.
    Why do Americans now hate Liberty? Does the Liberty of people interfere with the plans or hopes of the Powerful?
    Is that it?

  10. ill lich says:

    Delicious irony– I know that if the shoe were on the other foot, Universal would sue the pants off whoever used a sample of something THEY owned.

    One of my favorite albums of all time is DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing…” from 1995. It consists 100% of samples, and only a handful of the hundreds of samples he used were credited and authorized and paid for. The amount of money needed to authorize all those samples would mean that the album would never get released (legitimately, anyway: I’m sure bootlegs would eventually appear). SO, do we stifle a legitimate musical creation simply because everybody wants a big piece of the pie, or because they refuse to grant permission? Or do we set reasonable rules and rates on how a sample may be used?

  11. James Grimmelmann says:

    It’s a very strange case, and we should all hope that Universal wins. Why complain about hypocrisy on the one occasion when they clean up their act and do right? Sure they have selfish motives, but that precedent can be used to help small-fry defendants in the future.

    What makes the case exceedingly strange is that normally punitive damages aren’t allowed at all in copyright lawsuits. In almost every court, the choice is actual damages or the up-to-$150,000 statutory damages. Punitives aren’t in the list, and almost all courts have held that plaintiffs can’t ever get them. The idea was that statutory damages would take their place. If you think about it, it makes a twisted kind of sense: statutory damages are almost every bit as harsh, so they can certainly play the same kind of role. It’s baffling why Universal didn’t even try to make this argument.

  12. scottfree says:

    The argument is over punitive damages, so if they win it will have no effect over the $150,000 per act of infringement statutory damages unauthorised sampling is saddled with. If the quotation from the Supreme court is anything to go by, a deduction of $200,000 [or one ninth the statutory damages] from the claim of $3.5m ought to satisfy due process. So when you’re confronted with a $3.5m bill for sampling music on the album you produced on your laptop, remember that Universal set a precedent which means you’re only required to pay $3.3m

  13. Ryan Waddell says:

    Well, what I want to know is, does Universal/the RIAA generally seek punitive damages in a 10:1 ratio between punitive and compensatory damages? Because they don’t seem to be arguing that the compensatory damages are excessive, nor are they arguing that the $150k statutory damages are excessive, they’re arguing that the punitive damages, at 10:1, are an excessive ratio. They seem to be arguing that if it were 5:1, for example, or 2:1, they wouldn’t have a problem with it. Which doesn’t really smack of hypocrisy to me all that much. If they were arguing about the statutory or compensatory damages, then it might be a bit more blatant.

    And #5: they only used one song without permission. Yes, they reproduced it a great many times, but it was only one song. So if you only downloaded one song, you’d only get hit with one (still very large) fine.

  14. Enochrewt says:

    Aw that’s nothing. Universal only has to sue 26 teenagers for copyright infringement to break even.

  15. Crunchbird says:

    Actually, the sample they were sued for was taken from an Ohio Players track after they were turned down for use of the Hendrix sample. I guess they figured that they were less likely to get sued if they used an unapproved sample they hadn’t asked about first . . . oops.

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