June 2nd, 2010
The sheer volume suggests that these cases aren't designed for prosecution—and they don't need to be. As the RIAA lawsuits showed us, most people will settle. Data from the recording industry lawsuits, revealed in a court case, showed that 11,000 of the 18,000 Does settled immediately or had their cases dropped by the labels. Seven thousand either refused to settle or never responded to the settlement letter, but after the RIAA subpoenaed their identities and filed "named" lawsuits against them, nearly every one settled.
After years of litigation, the number of people who have pursued a trial all the way to a verdict can be counted on one hand.
The legal campaign has the potential to earn real money. Copies of the settlement letters and settlement contracts seen by Ars Technica show that Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver generally asks for $1,500 to $2,500, threatening to sue for $150,000 if no settlement payment is forthcoming. Assuming that 90 percent of the current targets settle for $1,500, this means that the lawyers, studios, and P2P detection company would split $19.7 million.
Once the infrastructure has been set up, this sort of system is simple to replicate, since it's built largely on sending out letters and collecting cash. If the lawyers can continue signing up indie film clients at the current rate, they could be on their way to filing nearly 30,000 lawsuits by year's end, which would double the potential cash on the table.
Time to repeal copyright law.
In a little-noticed provision in a 1990 law passed after the Exxon Valdez spill, Congress capped a spiller’s liability over and above cleanup costs at $75 million for a rig spill. Even if the economic damages — to tourism, fishing and the like — stretch into the billions, the responsible party is on the hook for only $75 million.
Libertarians are often accused of being in the pockets of big business. But here's a case where the libertarian solution -- make BP pay for the damage they cause via tort claims -- was overridden by government regulators.
As Joel writes later in the same article:
"In markets, companies fail. Companies that can’t meet their liabilities go out of business, and new companies replace them. That’s how markets work. That’s the discipline that markets rely on. Those are the incentives that proponents of markets have in mind.
Because when you artificially insulate companies from the consequences of their actions, that’s not a market. It’s a recipe for reckless risk-taking and gross malfeasance."
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday is set to consider an unusual question: Do Americans who have been framed by unscrupulous prosecutors for crimes they did not commit have a right to sue the prosecutors when the fraud is finally exposed?
According to the Obama administration, the answer is no.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan argues in a friend of the court brief that local, state, and federal prosecutors must enjoy absolute immunity from citizen lawsuits – even when they sent innocent men to prison for life by fabricating incriminating evidence and hiding exculpatory evidence.
"The 9 Hours is the brand new capsule hotel unveiled in December 2009 by Tokyo-based Cubic Corp. Designed in a collaboration with designer Fumie Shibata of Design Studio S, it looks nothing like its predecessors and represents a revolution in the capsule concept. Gabriel Leigh visits the hotel to see what's different."