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Old 05-08-2008, 07:44 AM   #1
HarryT
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Thumbs up TorrentSpy ordered to pay $110m damages

From the BBC News web site:

Quote:
File-sharing site TorrentSpy has been ordered to pay $110m (ú56m) in damages to the Motion Picture Association of America for copyright infringement.

The ruling from a court in the United States comes just weeks after the website shut down.

TorrentSpy facilitated the illegal sharing of copyright files by hosting a collection of links to films and music.

TorrentSpy parent company Valence Media and its owners Justin Bunnell and Wes Park have filed for bankruptcy.
For more information, see:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7389485.stm
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:33 AM   #2
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Wow... and another soul-crushing damages verdict is levied.

Although I do believe that copyright holders are deserving of protection, and damages paid for knowing violations--which means I have no argument over the verdict--even I have to admit that the size of these fines (enough to send a company into bankruptcy, or, for example, Jammie Thomas to face losing her home) is pretty excessive. The courts seem to be firmly in the "make an example out of 'em" mode of punishment over these issues.

And part of me thinks about some of the employees of Valence Media, who are now clearly out of work and forced to move on. (Understand, if "Valence Media" turns out to be 3 guys operating in a storefront, as opposed to a company of people who may or may not have had any idea that what they were doing was illegal--I could not manage to find out either way--my concerns are duly withdrawn.)

At any rate, I wonder how long it will be before this "maximum punishment" mode forces the hand of the ACLU or similar organizations, going to the courts and saying, "Okay, punishment is punishment, but this is extreme to the point of ludicrous."
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:37 AM   #3
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Did they really show copyright infringement? Torrentspy does not have any copyrighted material.
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tompe View Post
Did they really show copyright infringement? Torrentspy does not have any copyrighted material.
I suppose the court didn't agree with your assessment. (Anyway, I was only thinking about the fine.)
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:56 AM   #5
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Did they really show copyright infringement? Torrentspy does not have any copyrighted material.
According to the news article, they were convicted of "facilitating copyright infringement" - ie aiding other people in infringing copyright. The judge imposed a fine of $30,000 for "each of the 3,699 infringements shown". That's a total fine of $110,970,000.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:06 AM   #6
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I suppose the court didn't agree with your assessment. (Anyway, I was only thinking about the fine.)
Does the size of the fine matter?
Presumably the chances of anyone being able to pay it are so remote that the number of zeroes is pretty irrelevant - a bit like sentencing some to 340 years imprisonment.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:07 AM   #7
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Although I do believe that copyright holders are deserving of protection, and damages paid for knowing violations--which means I have no argument over the verdict--even I have to admit that the size of these fines (enough to send a company into bankruptcy, or, for example, Jammie Thomas to face losing her home) is pretty excessive. The courts seem to be firmly in the "make an example out of 'em" mode of punishment over these issues.
It may surprise some to hear that I agree with you, Steve. Punishment needs to be proportionate to the crime. This is clearly not a proportionate punishment.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:11 AM   #8
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According to the news article, they were convicted of "facilitating copyright infringement" - ie aiding other people in infringing copyright.
Yes, that was what I thought. That is what is going to be tested in Sweden in the upcoming pirate bay thingy if it ever starts. It has been dragged out so you can suspect that they do not want to have it tested...
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:12 AM   #9
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It may surprise some to hear that I agree with you, Steve. Punishment needs to be proportionate to the crime. This is clearly not a proportionate punishment.
So your thumbs up symbol does not mean that you agree with the fine?
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:46 AM   #10
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I'm guessing destroying records didn't help their cause any
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:49 AM   #11
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I'm guessing destroying records didn't help their cause any
In fact, it sounds like the main reason they were so severely punished, i.e., caused the courts to invoke the maximum possible fines on them in lieu of hard data.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:02 AM   #12
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Does the size of the fine matter?
Presumably the chances of anyone being able to pay it are so remote that the number of zeroes is pretty irrelevant - a bit like sentencing some to 340 years imprisonment.
I'd guess their logic is that such a huge fine completely negates the possibility of "getting out from under it" somehow, whether through dedicated payments, loans and donations, insurance, or anything else. In other words, you'll know you're well and totally screwed for life if you get caught, so you won't do it.

On its face, it sounds logical, I suppose... but I think that when the numbers are that high, it sort of breaks the personal "reality" barrier, and people stop thinking logically about astronomical numbers. IOW, let's do the crime... after all, I'll be irrevocably damned anyway, it's not like I'll really spend 500 years in jail...

But if the punishment meant you had a prayer of resuming a normal life after due "rehabilitation," that might be more of a real inducement to avoid the crime in the first place.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:06 AM   #13
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So your thumbs up symbol does not mean that you agree with the fine?
I think that convictions like this send the right message to people who might be considering setting up such a site, and I thoroughly approve of the conviction. However, I believe that the actual fine is disproportionate.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:11 AM   #14
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They will be fined, they'll declare bankrupt and handover their one server and the internet modem. They'll buy another server off ebay, get internet connection under different name and address and come back in 6 months time (maximum)! Even if they were fined 1 trillion dollars, still they will not pay anything because they will have nothing to show as assets. Imprisonment might deter these people, but then who has ever said no to a free lunch (or supper or breakfast, for that matter?) The copy right enforcement system is still in the age of clandestine printing machines and garden-shed brewerage plants. They can never catch the 'big bad internet pirate' with this setup. Fine them a million or a billion or even a trillion, recording industry in particular and 'culture industry' in general will reach the end of the wooden bit within a few years. Oh the brave new world of artistic freedom, death of an industry that hypes up trash and controls our tastes and artists' careers. They have decided the fate of sinkers and floaters long enough. Time to walk the plank, mate!

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Old 05-08-2008, 11:19 AM   #15
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They might as well have fined them "Eleventy Billion Dollars".
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