Whitney Harper: Song Downloader's Appeal Slapped Down By U.S. Supreme Court
Five record labels that sued a 16-year-old San Antonio girl six years ago for illegally downloading a bunch of shitty music the labels vomited upon the listening public can finally exhale:the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear the girl's appeal
. This means that, per a Fifth Circuit court ruling, Whitney Harper will have to pay $750 for every one of the 37 songs at issue in the case.
Hair Balls is glad that Maverick, UMG, Arista, Warner Brothers and Sony prevailed against the criminal mastermind who, although she was just barely legally able to drive at the time, almost brought the recording industry to its knees. It's a sure sign that the universe's karmic balance has been restored when an individual must pay $750 for appropriating "I'm With You" by Avril Lavigne. (Did Harper ever stop to consider that she was stealing food off the plate of a girl who was only three years older than her?)
Harper's Houston attorney, the awesomely named Kiwi Camara, had argued that Harper was an "innocent infringer" who didn't realize her actions were illegal. But the Fifth Circuit ruled that the record companies "provided proper notice" thatthe overproduced ear-rape contrived by Ja Rule, Faith Hill,Counting Crows, was copyright-protected. This was decided under the "phonorecord" clause which states that copyright notices are clearly printed on "material objects" like CD's. The court also decided that Harper's age was irrelevant.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito disagreed, writing in his dissent that "it is by no means clear that certain objective characteristics of the infringer -- such as age -- may not be taken into consideration." Alito also wrote that it was worth exploring how the phonorecord clause applies to the digital age, because "a person who copies music from a material object bearing a copyright notice."
We just wonder how much money the record labels spent in their quest to recover $27,000 from a teenager, and how much the actual artists will receive. And we certainly hope that Harper has learned her lesson, and will now only illegally download decent music.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.