It’s hard to believe that a high-schooler wouldn’t know about copyrighted music–but then it’s amazing what high-schoolers don’t know these days. Not to mention how little the recording industry seems to know about public relations, given how much they are asking per song. (At least it’s not the full $150,000 bizarrely permitted them under US copyright law. Is this a kinder, gentler RIAA, settling for a mere $30,000 because the defendant is a cheerleader?) via Byline droopus writes “The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing into the first RIAA file sharing case to reach its docket, requesting that the music labels’ litigation arm respond to a case testing the so-called ‘innocent infringer’ defense to copyright infringement. The case pending before the justices concerns a federal appeals court’s February decision ordering a university student to pay the Recording Industry Association of America $27,750 – $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, after concluding the youngster was an innocent infringer, ordered defendant Whitney Harper to pay $7,400 – or $200 per song. That’s an amount well below the standard $750 fine required under the Copyright act. Harper is among the estimated 20,000 individuals the RIAA has sued for file-sharing music. The RIAA has decried Harper as ‘vexatious,’ because of her relentless legal jockeying.” As one Slashdot commenter runs the numbers:

Downloading 24 songs -> 1.92 million dollars

Producing wilfully misleading documents in regards to royalties owed to the natives who’s land you are pumping gas from (for 25,949 violation days) -> 5.2 million dollars (65 songs)

Filling falsified audits for 4 years overstating pre-tax income by more than $1 billion (really was 1.4bill). -> 7 million dollars (88 songs)

Causing more than 300 oil spills (the largest being 100,000gallons into Nueces Bay, TX), illegally discharging crude oil totalling 3million gallons of crude leaking into ponds, lakes, rivers and streams across 6 states over a period of 7 years. All due to negligence and improper maintenance. -> 35 million dollars (437 songs)

Seems fair to me. 229 gallons of leaked crude oil into natural environments per mp3 copied. That means that my personal music collection is as bad as dumping 1.15 million barrels of oil across the countryside. To try to imagine how much that is: It is 357 average sized US homes filled with oil.

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