News & Analysis
Supreme Court Is OK with US$ 675,000 Copyright Fine for 30 Songs
Supreme Court Lets Stand Student's $675,000 Penalty For Downloading ... Without commenting on the merits of the case, the Supreme Court this morning let stand a $675,000 jury verdict against a 25-year-old Boston University student who downloaded 30 songs nearly a decade ago and then shared them with others on a peer-to-peer network. The court denied Joel Tenenbaum's "write of certiorari," which means his appeal of a lower court's ruling and the judgment were turned down. – NPR
Dominant Social Theme: A good thing, too. Copying intellectual property is stealing.
Free-Market Analysis: So now Joel Tenenbaum owes US$ 675,000 for downloading 30 songs. One can argue that those who believe they are wronged by Tenenbaum ought to pursue him and others.
But let them do it with their own resources. This is a fundamental prerogative of private justice. If you feel you are wronged, you have the right to redress. Only use your own money and resources.
And good luck to you.
The modern system of monopoly justice pioneered by the West is a variant of more nakedly projected power in less complex environments. Strip away the veneer of "judicial talk" and the results are the same. Those in power enforce their will.
In such a justice system, the state itself passes the laws and hires the prosecutors, judges and even the defense. The jails are paid for by the state along with the guards and probation officers. The police, sheriffs and various law enforcement resources are all funded by the state.
The argument is that in a democracy citizens themselves determine the course of the state. This might be true if a small group of dynastic families did not – apparently – control central banking around the world.
But access to this money has evidently allowed a small group of individuals to shape Western society in a certain way while aiming for world government.
Part of this effort involves configuring justice so that it emphasizes – and encourages – global government. This is done by configuring "justice" so that it has a bias toward bigness.
Private justice is simple and restrained mostly to the individuals involved in a quarrel. There is no end to the size that public justice can take.
Rebekah Brooks, head of Rupert Murdoch's press empire, has been under investigation of hacking – and no fewer than 100 officers are pursuing the case, which is according to Brooks the size of seven murder investigations.
But then, the Murdoch phone hacking scandal has been blown up by the elite-controlled press in Britain with constant coverage. This is how the elites work. They use the power of public justice to reinforce certain dominant social themes.
In this case it is very likely that the outcome of the phone hacking scandal will be precedents that make the press less independent.
The copyright prosecutions have certain ulterior motives as well. Copyright is a way of controlling the flow of information and in the era of the Internet Reformation, the power elite's secretive agenda has been badly compromised.
But that hasn't stopped the Recording Industry Association of America from suing some 12,000 people for illegally sharing music. The industry said it lost billions of dollars of revenue.
Tenenbaum decided to fight the charges and while he could have once settled for several thousand dollars he's now stuck with a bill for over US$ 600,000. To add insult to injury, the RIAA has stopped trying to attack file sharing via litigation. Here's how Wired describes the new strategy:
Wired says "the significance of Monday's action by the Supreme Court ... appears to be minimal in the music-sharing context. The RIAA has abandoned its litigation campaign and instead is working with internet service providers to warn file sharers or kick them off the internet if they repeatedly engage in online copyright infringement."
Wired is also interested in the precedent set by judges in the case that both lowered and raised the copyright fine against Tenenbaum.
"Whether judges ultimately have the authority to reduce damages awards in Copyright Act cases, even those not involving music tracks, is another unanswered story," Wired writes. "The Supreme Court on Monday declined to answer that question."
For us, the bigger question is whether the elite attacks on information will succeed. The power elite of the day used copyright to attack the flow of information from the advent of the Gutenberg Press about 700 years ago.
It took close to 500 years, from what we can tell, to fully control information – which took place with sanitary certainty in the 20th century.
But now in the 21st century, thanks to the Internet, freedom has broken out all over again. The chances of containing information about the Way the World Really Works in the 21st century anytime soon are, in our view, slim to none. That won't stop the elites from trying.
Conclusion: Tenenbaum is what the generals used to call collateral damage in this larger struggle.