Google's Senior Copyright Counsel on the PRO IP Bill

Noted copyright lawyer William Patry, who is Google's Senior Copyright Counsel and who is the author of the seven-volume Patry on Copyright, has published a trenchant analysis of the PRO IP bill ("What Does It Mean to Be Pro-IP?"). (Note that Patry indicates in his blog that:"The views in this blog are strictly mine and should not be attributed to Google Inc.")

Here's an excerpt:

This provision [SEC. 104. COMPUTATION OF STATUTORY DAMAGES IN COPYRIGHT CASES] is one of the most gluttonous in the whole bill. It seeks to expand radically the amount of statutory damages that can be recovered, and in cases where there are zero actual damages. The provision is intended to benefit the record industry but will have terrible consequences for many others; the provision has nothing to do with piracy and counterfeiting; instead it seeks to undo rulings in the 2000 litigation, a decidedly non-piracy or counterfeiting case, instead involving the use of digital storage lockers. Under the original decision, where a CD had twelve tracks, there was only one award of statutory damages possible. Under the bill, there may be 25: there would be 12 for each track on the sound recording, 1 for the sound recording as a whole, and 12 for each musical composition. Under this approach, for one CD the minimum award for non-innocent infringement must be $18,750, for a CD that sells in some stores at an inflated price of $18.99 and may be had for much less from or iTunes. The maximum amount of $150,000 then becomes three million, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars per CD. Now multiple that times a mere ten albums, and one gets a glimpse at the staggering amount that will be routinely sought, not just in suits filed, but more importantly in thousands for cease and desist letters, where grandmothers and parents are shaken down for the acts of their wayward offspring. These private non-negotiable demands don’t see the light of day, but they have resulted in "settlements" wherein ordinary people have paid abnormal amounts of money rather than be hauled into court and thereby incur costs that will bankrupt them. One only wishes Congress would hold a hearing on this practice.