Friday February 17, 2017

Judge Splits $750 Piracy Penalty Between BitTorrent Peers

TorrentFreak has a report up today about a Seattle District Court judge with a refreshing take on piracy suit damage awards. Like in most of these cases, the defendants never showed in court, so the plaintiff requested default judgments of $2,500 from each defendant, plus attorneys fees. The Judge rejected the claim instead awarding the sum of $750, to be split among all the BitTorrent peers.

I am not a fan of piracy, but I do like to see the punishment fit the crime. Why is it that whenever we read about one of these cases, it is for a film that rated 28% on Metacritic? I can't help but wonder if the lawyers only come out as an excuse of last resort when a film does poorly in the box office.

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As for the lowered damages amount itself, the Judge clarifies that these type of cases are not intended to result in large profits. Especially not, when the rightsholders have made little effort to prove actual damage or to track down the original sharer.

"The Court is not persuaded. Statutory damages are not intended to serve as a windfall to plaintiffs, and enhanced statutory damages are not warranted where plaintiffs do not even try to demonstrate actual damages."