The recent decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in the Echostar Satellite LLC v. Viewtech case, Civil Case No. 07cv1273 BEN (WVG), 2011 WL 1522409 (S.D.Cal.), is interesting mainly for the amount of statutory damages awarded. The defendants had been manufacturing receivers that circumvented the copy protection in the Echostar / DISH Network service. Since the principal of the defendants is currently serving an 18 month prison term, let’s just say the matter of the infringement itself is rather settled. The defendants did not oppose the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.
The bare minimum the judge could award for violation of the DMCA’s trafficking provision, §1201(a)(2), was $200 per infringement, and the plaintiffs were able to prove that there were 1,074,093 infringements. Accordingly, the court awarded $214,898,600. Further, the plaintiff can seek its attorneys fees as well.
For more on the case, and to download a copy of the decision, visit Satscams.com.
I was pleased to be in the room (alright, the second row) when Professor Larry Lessig gave the keynote speech for ABA Techshow 2011.
In the speech, entitled “Code is Law: Does Anyone Get This Yet?“, Lessig discusses some of the problems with copyright law’s application to regulate the digital world. I can’t adequately summarize the speech; it needs to be experienced. Here is a link. Lessig makes effective use of Keynote as the presentation platform and sprinkles the speech with video clips that demonstrate the Remix culture.
I was particularly struck by his evocation of John Philip Sousa‘s concern that recorded music would stifle culture. Sousa was worried that the youth would no longer gather and sing the old songs, or the songs of the day. Lessig proposes that Sousa would approve of the Remix culture as a modern day example of what he wanted to preserve.
At the end of the speech, Lessig tied these concerns about copyright law and internet regulation into a call to action to support the grassroots organization he helped start, Rootstrikers. Lessig proposes that many of the problems with current copyright law come from issues with how our politicians are funded. I personally doubt this by itself will bring the desired change, but it can’t hurt.
The rest of Techshow was also remarkable. I enjoyed the Macintosh and e-discovery sessions. I also learned some good workflows for integrating my new iPad into my practice. All in all, it was another remarkable conference. I am looking forward to Techshow 2012, which will be from March 29-31. Perhaps I will see you there.