Asks for a response to the petition for writ of cert filed in Whitney Harper v. Maverick Recording Company, the case of the 14yo girl found guilty of copyright infringement earlier this year even though she was unaware file-sharing was illegal.
The case of Whitney Harper v. Maverick Recording Company may reach the inside of the Supreme Court after all, an important decision being that very rarely do file-sharing cases ever reach the inside of a courtroom, let alone the highest court in the land.
According to a letter received by her attorney, the Supreme Court has asked for her to file a "response to the petition for a writ of certiorari" in the case. The petition is a document which a losing party files asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court. It includes a list of the parties, a statement of the facts of the case, the legal questions presented for review, and arguments as to why the Court should grant the writ.
By requesting that such information be submitted in a formal and concise fashion it, as the her attorney’s law firm points out, "increases the chance that the Supreme Court will ultimately review this case."
Though Harper won an initial ruling, of sorts, back in 2008 when US District Judge Xavier Rodriguez granted her an “innocent infringer’s” exemption to the Copyright Act’s minimum $750 p/violation and ordered her to pay $200 p/violation instead ($7400), the ruling was revoked earlier this year by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which decided that she had to pay the statutory minimum of $750 per infringement ($27,750).
She has argued all along that she is an “innocent infringer” because she “had no knowledge or understanding of file trading, online distribution networks or copyright infringement,” and that KaZaA and other P2P programs didn’t tell her that content available on their networks was “stolen or abused copyrighted material.”
Since there were never any CDs involved in her actions there was never a warning for her to see. When it comes to the Copyright Act, you can’t claim “innocent infringement” if the copyright holder places a proper notification of copyright on the actual sound recording.
The initial judge, Judge Rodriguez agreed, in part, because the RIAA failed to convince him that placing labels on the physical copies of the original CDs from which the songs must have originally come from was sufficient enough notification that the songs were copyrighted in order to negate her “innocent infringer” defense.
The three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later decided that the copyright notifications located on the CDs from which her illegally downloaded songs came – wherever they may be, and though she may never have seen them – was sufficient enough, and that therefore she was ineligible from an "innocent infringer" defense.
The real irony here in all of this is that Harper is still liable for copyright infringement! All she’s tried to argue is that she “was unaware and had no reason to believe” she was infringing copyright at the time. It’s a matter of whether she pays $7,400 with the exemption or $27,750 without it. The latter would entail an outrageous economic burden to take on in what is now certainly nearing her college age years.
Let’s hope the Supreme Court takes up the case.