26 June 2007

Statutory Damages in Copyright Cases

Offense: Company made karaoke cover versions of 26 songs on 74,734 CDs.

Actual damages: $28,152

Statutory damages: $806,000

On top of the damages award, the Plaintiff also gets attorneys’ fees.

This presents the same issues, in a different context, as Pearson v. Chung, blogged yesterday. It isn’t at all clear why the law should award, on top of attorneys’ fees, statutory damages that far exceed the compensatory damages suffered by the copyright holder.

The ratio of statutory damages to compensatory damages is almost 44:1 to 35:1 depending on how you calculated it. Anti-trust violations, by comparison, give rise merely to treble damages, which is also the limit on punitive damages under Colorado law.

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