Another Courtroom Dance? RIAA Settles Elektra v. Barker

Is the RIAA dancing around a number of potentially damaging precedents?

Just recently, the trade organization settled its case against New York social worker Tenise Barker for $6,000, a greatly reduced sum.  The case featured the now-controversial ‘making available’ infringement argument, among other aspects.  That argument states that merely making content available from a shared folder constitutes infringement, a line of reasoning that is now being challenged and reconsidered by defendants and judges.

The case of Elektra v. Barker also featured a challenge related to fines for infringing activity.  Barker admitted to using Kazaa, though defending lawyer Ray Beckerman argued that statutory damages falling between “2,142 to 428,571 times the actual damages” were unconstitutional.

Those aspects will not be adjudicated, potentially a tactic by the RIAA to avoid a negative outcome.  In discussions with Digital Music News on Tuesday, the RIAA expressed a desire “to be fair and reasonable” with the defendant, though the group recently finished a similar case and delivered a serious financial blow in the process.  In October of last year, the group sued file-swapping defendant Jammie Thomas for $222,000 on comparable charges, a case that is now heading towards retrial on questions related to the ‘making available’ reasoning.