January 29, 2008 | By Fred von Lohmann

Update on Pro-IP Act: DC Roundtable on Statutory Damages

Sherwin Siy, staff attorney with Public Knowledge, has posted an insightful first-person account of a recent "roundtable" held by the U.S. Copyright Office about the increase in statutory damages proposed in Section 104 of the recently-introduced PRO-IP Act.

As we reported when the measure came out, there is precious little reason to think that copyright's statutory damages regime is too lenient (with individuals being held liable for $220,000 for sharing 24 songs, the evidence indicates the opposite). Having convened an all-day roundtable of "stakeholders," it sounds like the Copyright Office may be coming to the same conclusion:

So the RIAA wants larger litigation recoveries. But is there a real need for that? That’s the question that we’ve been asking ourselves, and it’s the question that [Copyright Office lawyer] David Carson put to the content companies that support the provision: “To proponents of this amendment: have there been any cases, since 1976, where plaintiffs have been inadequately compensated because of the operation of this rule?” And there really wasn’t much of a response. There are cases they think went the wrong way, sure, but they just didn’t have any examples of a situation where the operation of the current law resulted in an unjustly low statutory damages award.

Read Sherwin's entire account for a vivid portrait of how copyright policy gets made in Washington.


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