Supreme Court told P2P users can be “innocent infringers”

20 08 2010

Two prominent lawyers in the fight against RIAA P2P lawsuits have taken their battle to the Supreme Court. Today, Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson and “Recording Industry vs. the People” blogger/lawyer Ray Beckerman joined with a few other law professors to ask the Supreme Court not to gut copyright law’s “innocent infringer” defense.

The case concerns a woman named Whitney Harper. Several years ago, when she was a teenaged cheerleader, Harper downloaded music using P2P networks. She was caught by MediaSentry, which investigated file-sharing for the major music labels, but she claimed to be an “innocent infringer” under US copyright law, saying that in her early teen years she had thought P2P use to be just like listening to free music on the radio. That defense, accepted by the judge in her case, reduced the statutory minimum damages against Harper from $750 per song down to just $200.

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