Feeds

Filesharing teen gets damages reduced in ignorance claim

Too young to understand, court rules

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

A 16-year-old girl has successfully argued that she was too young to understand that her copyright-infringing downloading of music was unlawful. A US court said she will only have to pay $200 per song downloaded instead of the $750 demanded in the case.

A number of record labels including Maverick, Universal, Sony BMG and Warner, sued Steve Harper over music downloaded and shared using KaZaA software. It transpired that it was his daughter Whitney that had used the software and he was replaced by her in the suit.

Harper was 16 at the time of the copyright infringements and her lawyer argued in court that a person her age could not understand the illegality of her acts and could therefore not be capable of intentionally infringing the copyright in the music.

Harper told the court in a statement that she had had "no knowledge or understanding of file trading, online distribution networks or copyright infringement".

Judge Xavier Rodriguez said that it was crucial that the KaZaA software had not told Harper that there was anything illegal about her actions.

"Defendant stated that she had 'no reason to doubt' that her actions were '100 per cent free and 100 per cent legal' and that she believed programs like KaZaA 'to be similar to online radio stations,'" he said in his ruling (pdf).

"The damages provision of the Copyright Act provides that a plaintiff may elect to seek minimum damages of $750 per work," said the ruling. "However, it also provides that 'where the infringer … was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200'."

Previous cases had found that a defence of innocent infringement was not available for records where a copyright sign is visible on the packaging. No such signs appear on digital downloads using software such as KaZaA, though.

"In her affidavit and in her deposition, [Harper] claimed that she believed using KaZaA and similar products to be akin to listening to radio over the internet and did not know that the recordings were being either downloaded or distributed," said the ruling.

Rodriguez has said that Harper should pay $200 per song rather than the requested $750 per song, which would result in total damages of $7,400. If the parties cannot agree on that sum then he said that he would hold a trial on the sum of damages that should be paid.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.