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Justinian Lane

Could State Farm v. Campbell Protect Consumers?

State Farm v. Campbell in a very tiny nutshell: The Supreme Court has decided that only in very rare and extreme circumstances should punitive damages exceed a single-digit multiplier of compensatory damages, else it’s a violation of due process.  I’m not a fan of that decision, because I believe it places corporate interests ahead of consumer safety.  I’ve often considered getting myself sued by RIAA for file-sharing so I could challenge the size of the award on due process grounds.  This news story reminded me of that argument:

In a bit of reasoning that some might take issue with, Judge Davis pointed out that Thomas allegedly infringed on the copyrights of 24 songs, which he said was the equivalent of around three CDs that would cost less than $54. He said the total award was more than 4,000 times the cost of three CDs. “The Court does not condone Thomas’s actions,” he wrote, “but it would be a farce to say that a single mother’s acts of using Kazaa are the equivalent, for example, to the acts of global financial firms illegally infringing on copyrights in order to profit in the securities market.”

Davis suggested that damages that are more than 100 times the costs of the works would serve as a “sufficient deterrent” to illegal downloading. He also stressed that Thomas had sought no profits from her alleged illegal activities.

Source: Law Blog - WSJ.com : In Blow to RIAA, Judge Raises Infringement Standard for File-Sharing

I’ve neither boned up on copyright law nor file-sharing lawsuits in general, so my idea of raising the due process defense might have no legal basis whatsoever.  Anyone with knowledge of this subject matter want to chime in?

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Posted at 10:58 AM, Sep 25, 2008 in
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Comments

I'm not sure of the specifics, but copyright infringement damages are statutorily-based, per violation. They're what the statute presumes as necessary compensation; thus, the defendant has had his/her due process.

Posted by: Lawyer | September 25, 2008 3:44 PM