3 Count: Turnabout and Fairplay

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1: Judge Affirms $675k Verdict in RIAA Music Piracy Case

First off today, the judge in the Joel Tenenbaum case, which saw the students held liable for some $675,000 in damages to the various labels after being sued for file sharing, has affirmed the verdict.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner has entered the judgement in her new ruling and has not reduced the verdict, as Tenenbaum’s team had hoped. The judge also took time in the verdict to strongly admonish the defense, headed by Harvard professor Charles Nesson, for its “chaotic” defense and said she had been willing to consider a fair use defense but that Nesson’s arguments were so broad and out of touch with the law that she had no choice but to prevent them from being heard at the trial.

The judge also granted the record industry’s motion to bar Tenenbaum from any further infringement but declined, on the grounds of free speech, to bar him from promoting file sharing and the Web as a means of obtaining music. The judge also deplored Congress to take a look at the copyright laws that made the verdict possible and expressed deep concern over the potential for “astronomical” damage awards.

A January 5 hearing is scheduled to discuss the constitutionality of the damage amount but, should that fail, Tenenbaum has already said that he will be forced to declare bankruptcy.

2: Record Industry Faces Liability Over `Infringement’

Next up today, Canadian record labels are facing a major class action lawsuit brought on by artists who are claiming copyright infringement over the labels’s practice of using a “pending list” when clearing rights for compilation and live CDs.

The practice was the result of a change in Canadian copyright law in the 1980s that did away with compulsory licenses to require labels to obtain permission for such albums. However, according to plaintiffs, the labels instead just printed the CDs and put the track names on a the pending list, which supposedly meant approval and payment was forthcoming. According to the lawsuit, that payment never came.

The labels admit they have not taken adequate steps to secure payment for artists on the pending list, which has now grown to some 300,000 songs and includes artists from all genres and across the globe, and have already said they may be liable for up to $50 million in damages. However, since the plaintiffs are seeking statutory damages, that number could go as high as $6 billion (Note: The original article says $60 billion but this is clearly a math error as 300,000 songs x $20,000 per infringement max equals $6 billion, not $60 billion).

The irony of the record labels facing suhch a large potential judgement against them is not lost on anyone, the least of all the plaintiffs, who wrote in a legal filing “the conduct of the defendant record companies is aggravated by their strict and unremitting approach to the enforcement of their copyright interests against consumers.”

We will report more on the case as it develops.

3: Destiny’s Child Copyright Case Settled

Finally today, the former singers of Destiny’s Child have avoided a court date. The trio had been sued by Rickey Allen, who accused the band of infringement over their 2004 song ‘Cater 2 U’, whch he claimed was inspired by a track he had composed with the same title in the 90s.

Allen claimed that he had handed a copy of the song over to producer Maurice Joshua, who went on to work with the trio on the album in question.

However, after years of legan wrangling, the matter has been settled, only a few days before the singers were to take the stand. Both sides met behind closed doors to hammer out a an undisclosed agreement and the case is expected to be dismissed tomorrow.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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