A case testing the meaning of the so-called “innocent infringer’s” defense to the Copyright Act’s minimum fine of $750 per music track that is downloaded or shared illegally has landed at the U.S. Supreme Court, Wired reports. The case the justices were asked to review May 26 concerns a federal appeals court’s February decision ordering a university student to pay the Recording Industry Association of America $27,750 ($750 per track) for file-sharing 37 songs when she was a high school cheerleader. That decision reversed a Texas federal judge who had ordered defendant Whitney Harper to pay $7,400 (or $200 per song). The lower court, without a trial, had granted her the innocent infringer’s exemption to the Copyright Act’s minimum fine, because the teen claimed she didn’t know she was violating copyrights. The appeals court, however, said she was not eligible for such a defense, even though she was between 14 and 16 years old when the infringing activity occurred on LimeWire. The appeals court concluded that the Copyright Act precludes such a defense if the legitimate CDs of the music in question carry copyright notices—but Harper’s attorneys argued she should get the benefit of the $200 innocent-infringer fine, because the digital files in question contained no copyright notice. The High Court justices have the option of taking the case and issuing a ruling, or declining to hear it altogether…

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About the Author:

Denny Carter

Dennis has covered higher education technology since April 2008, having interviewed some of the most recognized IT pros in U.S. colleges and universities. He is always updating eCampus News with the latest in pressing ed-tech issues, such as the growing i


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