What Part Of The Eighth Amendment Isn’t Clear?

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Do multiple judges have difficulty reading an entire sentence?

http://new.music.yahoo.com/

http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s07e09-christian-rock-hard

 

record industry

About stevengoddard

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57 Responses to What Part Of The Eighth Amendment Isn’t Clear?

  1. Mike Davis says:

    You left out some history on this case
    “Thanks to Thomas-Rasset’s colorful case, she has become the public face of the record industry’s battle with illegal downloaders. In her first trial, in 2007, the jury demanded she pay $222,000 for violating the copyright on more than 1,700 songs”.
    Peer to peer music sharing is not legal! It is theft by fraud!
    The end payers are all the rest of us because everything goes up to cover costs of these illegal activities.

    • On itunes you can purchase 1,700 songs for $1,700.

      You think almost $1,000 fine per song is not excessive?

      http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s07e09-christian-rock-hard

      • ChrisD says:

        I think it’s excessive, too, but it’s important to rememember that she not only stole the songs, she made them available to any Kazaa user, which means that she enabled untold thousands of others to also steal the music. No one will ever know how many people did so.

        That’s really not the same thing as just getting a tune from somewhere and sticking it on your iPod.

      • ChrisD says:

        There’s no reason to make files available to Kazaa other than to enable downloading by other Kazaa users.

        Intent does matter in the American legal system.

      • ChrisD says:

        No, the Eighth Amendment is perfectly clear to me. I’m not so sure it is to you, though. It applies to fines imposed by the government in a criminal case. From the Law Encyclopedia:

        “The Excessive Fines Clause limits the amount state and federal governments can fine a person for a particular crime.

        So the Eighth Amendment is not applicable to fines imposed by a jury in a civil case. This is a civil case (Capitol v Thomas), and the amendment does not apply.

        You also apparently skipped right over the bit where I said that I thought the fine is excessive. It’s just not unconstitutional.

      • ChrisD says:

        I see that you are not going to admit to your error in regard to the applicability of the Amendment.

        Even Watts posts occasional corrections, as you may recall. There’s nothing wrong with admitting a mistake, you know.

    • I took a tour of the old Oxford gaol a few years ago. They had a picture of a 12 year kid who was locked up for six months in the 1920s because he stole a loaf of bread.

    • Mike Davis says:

      She should have used Itunes. It is like stealing 1700 dollars from a bank. Over a certain amount it becomes a felony. There is the possibility she was advised and continued which makes her e repeat offender which is also a felony.
      The original fine was a bit over 130 dollars per song. s with lots f news we read now days it is there for the shock vale and there is not enough information to understand the circumstances behind the story.
      We can get our exercise Jumping to conclusions and running off at the mouth.
      It is like there is no more right or wrong but degrees of innocence. No more black and white, rather many shades of gray.

  2. R. de Haan says:

    This jury completely lost it.
    These kind of sentences undermine the credibility of the legal system.

    Banana Republic comes to mind.

  3. DirkH says:

    smiffy says:
    November 7, 2010 at 10:56 am
    “What were the songs? If Lenny Kravitz was one of them, I’d demand the judge sent her to hang.”

    http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/rock-stars/lenny-kravitz-net-worth/

    • smiffy says:

      I was implying she should hang for bad taste, not for taking Len’s money! Being non-US I should refrain from humour that is beyond everyone loves Raymond. ;o)

      • Mike Davis says:

        Not having a telly or even a radio station that works at my place. I find music is little better than noise now because of abuse to my hearing in my youth and it all runs together sort of jumbled. It is getting to the point I have difficulty understanding movies even. For entertainment I walk through the forest and “Converse” with the “Puppets”!

  4. Mike Davis says:

    It appears that it was a Jury award in a Civil Suit rather than an actual fine for breaking a law if the RIAA was the initiator and was the one awarded damages. This was a class action law suit against an individual. No more or less that a person suing McDonalds for spilling hot coffee on their own leg. Or someone suing a company for injuries suffered while misusing a hazardous product when the company had warning on the product not to attempt the action that was preformed. Next thing we know the world will be nothing but warning labels and no companies will produce entertainment media because of a lack of return on investment due to copyright infringement.
    I had a few hundred VHS tapes and wanted to transfer them to DVD but the inscription would not let me play them on any other device but the one I burned them on. The restrictions are being programmed into the software that plays entertainment media that block play without some form of authentication.

  5. RickA says:

    I am from Minnesota. Our local paper reports that she turned down a settlement offer of around 25,000, deciding to take this to trial a second time.

    That was around $1000 per song.

    Thats not bad, given that statutory damages for copyright infringement are between $750 and $250,000 per copying incident.

    • Mike Davis says:

      Rick:
      There was something about the original complaint covered over 1700 songs. 25 songs can be downloaded in less that an hour with a broadband connection.

    • So she is being further punished for exercising her Constitutional right to defend herself. That makes it much more egregious.

      • ChrisD says:

        No, she turned down a settlement offer and decided to take her chances in an unpredictable jury proceeding. Isn’t that how it works when you decline a settlement or a plea agreement? You gamble and hope for the best?

  6. Mike Davis says:

    From first hand knowledge of the extent of “Sharing” that goes on , or went on, at the Peer to Peer music sharing sites, 1700 is a drop in the bucket which can be accomplished in about a week by a sharing hobbyist. About mid decade there were those who bragged about their ability to down load massive amounts of music files and how much they had accumulated.
    Two wrongs do not make a right but the copyright infringement excesses lead to the extremes in attempting to stop them. Cause and effect. It appears she was caught doing what was claimed, which was breaking the law and she was attempting to claim she was above the law that others should live by. The first overturning was just a reduction of the original fine / judgment and she wanted that overturned.
    There is no constitutional right to break the laws of the land!

    • Th is a constitutional right to the eighth amendment which states Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

      In Afghanistan they cut people’s hands off for stealing. Stealing is also illegal in the US.

      • Mike Davis says:

        Steven:
        It was the same as if she were a distributor of drugs. What is being reported is the bare minimum to exaggerate the situation. Kind of like the Climate issue. She was an innocent bystander that just passed on false data to be used by the IPCC.
        The more she fights the charges the more information that expands her involvement. The greater the involvement the greater the fines.
        Respect for others rights is not working so something needs to be done to deter others from doing the same. Copyright infringement is a growing concern that has been exploding with the internet. I can go to the Flea Markets and find movies for 2 to 5 dollars that have just been released for MSRP at stores. Music CDs are cheaper and have Copied labels on them or even type written labels for less money.

  7. Mike Davis says:

    I am not trying to justify the fine. I am just comparing it to cause and effect. The harder a baseball is hit the further it will fly. Think about an avalanche, It only takes one stone rolling down hill to start an avalanche or land slide. Is the massive destruction caused by the stone being displaced justified.
    Some twisted form of logical reasoning lead to her actions and some twisted form of logical reasoning lead to her punishment.

    • The courts are expected to uphold the law, not get pissed off at people and take revenge.

      • ChrisD says:

        The court did uphold the law. The jury’s award was far less than the allowed maximum of $250,000 per violation, and the Eighth Amendment does not apply. The fact that the fine is much larger than either you or I would like does not alter that.

        If you have a problem with the fine, as I do, you should be berating the jury for showing poor judgment, not the judges for failing to apply an inapplicable Constitutional amendment.

        • So you think that a $250,000 fine for downloading a $1 song is upholding the 8th amendment?

          OJ cut his wife’s head off and got off scott free. Our Senator just won the election by blatant fraud.

      • Mike Davis says:

        It is the juries that are getting carried away with punitive damage awards for the plaintiffs. I think we are looking at two separate situations. One being legal proceeding due to breaking copyright laws and the other being a civil law suit with a litigant and a defendant. It appears the massive award was due to a class action law suit for damages. I saw no mention of a state or federal law being prosecuted that resulted in a fine but evidence that a civil law suit was in progress or had resulted in a jury awarding money to the injured parties.
        Then again it is mostly supposition due to lack of evidence provided by the news media to promote antagonism against the court system and paint the defendant as a victim rather than the perpetrator of a crime.
        from my niece who is now a district judge:
        What do you call an airplane crash with 250 attorneys on board and no survivors?
        A good start!

      • ChrisD says:

        So you think that a $250,000 fine for downloading a $1 song is upholding the 8th amendment?

        No, I think it’s irrelevant. The Eighth Amendment doesn’t apply to jury awards in civil cases. That’s pretty simple.

      • ChrisD says:

        Civil courts are bound by the Constitution, but nothing in the Constitution limits civil damages. The amendment deals with government fines, not civil damages.

        You need to give up on this and post a correction. Not holding my breath.

      • ChrisD says:

        Or maybe you can some day admit making a mistake.

  8. peterhodges says:

    geez chrisd might have it right for once

    anyways, no one pays any attention to the constitution anymore. really.

    congress does absolutely nothing that it is legally mandated to do, and does loads of crap that it is not authorised to do.

    almost everything our government does is illegal

    • Mike Davis says:

      It is all degrees of innocence! A person is innocent until proven guilty. Under the current method of practicing law it becomes degrees of innocence. In a murder trial the less innocent will get the death penalty and the more innocent will get life or a week in a controlled environment for observation. ( Mental institution and mental hospital are no longer PC terms)

  9. ChrisD says:

    As a coda on this, I ran into my neighbor, who is an attorney working in civil law, and asked him whether or not the Eight Amendment would apply. After he stopped laughing, he said that his cert paper, which I gather is the law school equivalent of the doctoral thesis, happened to be on the Eighth Amendment. It absolutely, positively does not apply to civil damages awarded by a jury. Judges may reduce an award if they feel it is unreasonable, but it is not a Constitutional issue.

    I’m sure that a correction to this post will be forthcoming shortly. Not.

    • The fact that legal precedent defies the constitution doesn’t impress me as an argument, any more than scientific consensus.

      Can I expect a retraction from you?

      • ChrisD says:

        You’re just totally incapable of admitting that you got something wrong, aren’t you? Do you think it’s weak, or cowardly, or what? It’s neither.

      • ChrisD says:

        Oh, and it’s not “legal precedent.” The 8th Amendment was never intended to apply to damages awarded by a jury in a civil suit. That was never its purpose. It was written as a restriction on the government, not on juries.

        You are just plain wrong on this. Time to man up.

      • ChrisD says:

        Amazing. You already know more about climate science than scientists, and now we find that you know more about the law than the lawyers.

        You’re just a font of knowledge on every subject known to man.

      • ChrisD says:

        You have a very difficult time with very simple concepts.

        Courts are subject to the Constitution.

        Courts are not subject to what is not in the Constitution.

        I will once again post the relevant item from the Law Encyclopedia, since you ignored it the first time around. This time I’ll put the key bits in bold:

        “The Excessive Fines Clause limits the amount state and federal governments can fine a person for a particular crime.”

        Civil damages awarded by a jury are not a fine by a state or federal government. This was not a criminal proceeding. The Amendment does not apply, twice. You are wrong. You’re like a five-year-old with chocolate all over his mouth insisting that he doesn’t know anything about the missing ice cream. Grow up.

        • You are an incredibly rude guest on my blog, and you are quite fortunate that I am so tolerant. Joe Romm doesn’t allow any contrary viewpoints.

          And your reading comprehension appears to be quite limited. The intent of the authors is extremely clear. Calling a fine “civil” does not change the fact that it is a fine. A $1.5 million fine for downloading music is both cruel and unusual.

          **Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.**

          The fact that there is bad legal precedent does not change anything. Try using your brain for a change.

      • ChrisD says:

        Sure, you can call me stupid and an idiot as often as you want, nothing rude about that, right?

        Go ahead and ignore both the law encyclopedia and an actual lawyer whose cert paper was specifically about the 8th Amendment and who specializes in this kind of case. You know best, as always. I would certainly expect a geologist to know more about civil law than an experienced civil lawyer.

        And it has nothing to do with “legal precedent”. It has everything to do with the intent and purpose of the amendment. It was never, ever intended to apply to damages imposed by juries in civil cases. It’s for fines imposed by governments in criminal cases. It protects the population from the government. A jury is not the government.

  10. Mike Davis says:

    Once upon a time the Constitution meant something solid with one interpretation. With the current state of the legal system “NOTHING” has a set meaning. It is all in who and when it is interpreted. This situation has been building for years. A law passed by the Legislative and executive branch has to be interpreted by many in the Legal field over many years to determine what the law actually means and then it is still subject to further interpretation. The entire constitution is a major case study of how many interpretations can be placed on one sentence.

  11. sunsettommy says:

    “Earlier this year, the RIAA offered Thomas-Rasset the opportunity to end the legal battle for $25,000 and an admission of guilt; Thomas-Rasset declined.”

    The woman IS GUILTY!

    The fine was the minimum by law that can be applied.Yet the dumbass woman who IS GUILTY turned it down!

    Pure stupidity,since she is GUILTY!! Proven GUILTY.Thus she was given a chance to get on with her life with the MINIMUM fine and proven guilt for her actions.

    Now I agree that 1.5 million is crazy and so were the 220,000 and other absurd fines.Her crime is minor and deserve a minor penalty in return.

    Instead we have a FOURTH trial coming up because the decided fines are stupid and the woman is stupid for turning down the only valid way out.

    • Your belief in her guilt does not deny her right to self defense and a fair judgment.

      • sunsettommy says:

        Her guilt was already decided THREE times.My belief is irrelevant.

        The problem are the fines levied by the jurors.They are stupid for the low level crime she participated in.

        $1.95 MILLION for a measly 24 songs she downloaded illegally?

        bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

        I would have pushed for $240 and let it go as that for her first offense.

  12. sunsettommy says:

    Steve writes:

    “It is an unreasonable fine, no matter how you try to justify it.”

    Of course it is unreasonable.

  13. sunsettommy says:

    What really ticks me off is that so many hours of court times are being used to determine a simple civil case.Over and over the juries keep choosing astronomical fines as their punishment for downloading 24 songs illegally.

    Now the spectacle is approaching a possible FOURTH trial over a simple crime.It is so unbelievable that this woman is being clobbered with fines so unbelievable.That she is being forced to fight them since they are a slap in the face of equitable justice standards.

    The sheer waste of the court over a simple crime in unbelievable.It should end and the last judge make bench judgment of a fine of $240 and end this bullshit!

    • ChrisD says:

      The big award isn’t for downloading, it’s for sharing the illegally downloaded tunes via Kazaa, which essentially made her an accessory to a literally uncountable number of other illegal downloads.

      This is not to say that I think the award is reasonable, because I don’t. But it’s not just for downloading.

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