Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 26th Aug 2011 22:06 UTC, submitted by Morgan
Legal And we have another contender for the stupidest technology-related lawsuit of 2011. Do you remember RealNetworks? The scourge of '90s web users? Lucky for us, their horrible media player is no longer a requirement on the web. Also lucky, for those of us who occasionally run into content encoded in any of Real's codecs, there's Real Alternative (download here). Well, apparently, RealNetworks is not happy with Real Alternative (download here), as the US company has completely destroyed the life of the Dutch maintainer of a website who dared to link to Real Alternative (download here).
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RE: I just don't get it Thom
by Neolander on Sat 27th Aug 2011 07:36 UTC in reply to "I just don't get it Thom"
Member since:

Perhaps it makes more sense if said another way.

1. A mega-corporation helps the economy of the US sink even further by allowing people to buy drugs without paying the regular fee to the state. It has to pay a small fraction of its ridiculously high benefits as a punishment.

2. A young individual links to an alternate implementation of a crappy AV codec from the dark ages of the internet. He loses all of his computers, more than a year of revenues, and his independence from his family (in the form of the house he was planning to buy and the ability to sustain himself financially without borrowing).

Disproportionate retribution much ?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: I just don't get it Thom
by Alfman on Sat 27th Aug 2011 08:43 in reply to "RE: I just don't get it Thom"
Alfman Member since:


"Disproportionate retribution much ?"

Not to defend the crime, but man versus corporation is not really balanced.

Morally it seems that harm to a person is greater than harm to a corporation. It's true that the corporation is formed on behalf of shareholders who may be people (or recursively other corporations...), but legally shareholders/employees are independent non-responsible entities.

I'm not so sure it's ethically right to entitle corporations the same rights as individuals (as in the US). In the biological sense, a corporation doesn't have a home, it doesn't have a family or dependents, it doesn't have to worry about educating itself, it doesn't have to worry about getting a new job if it gets shut down, it doesn't get sick...

Corporations shield the employees/owners/etc who committed the acts from any liability. So even the exact same legal punishment wielded against a man and a corporation have entirely different repercussions.

It's not really fair that between two men who've committed the same crime, one as an individual, the other behind a corporation, only the individual risks loosing his home and personal assets.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:

Actually, I think that part of this could be addressed if the fines were defined as a percentage of each person or entity's revenue, just like some taxes are.

500k€ is nothing for Google, it's a crazy lot for a single individual.

On the other hand, if you ask a megacorp to put 10% of its revenue on the table, then chances are that shareholders will actually make sure something is done.

Edited 2011-08-27 08:49 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

steogede2 Member since:

Not to defend the crime, but man versus corporation is not really balanced.

Just a reminder, this is a civil case. One of the reasons that most civilised countries provide public defenders in criminal cases is in recognition that the state is much more powerful and has more resources than te individual. Providing a public defender/legal aid protects the individuals right to a fair trial. Unfortunately few countries (I can't think of any*) offer the right to a fair trial in civil cases.

To everyone who says he 'stole' their IP: please remember that if he were accused of a crime then (in most civilised countries) the state would first decide if the prosecution was in the public interest. Then the state would provide him with a fair trial, including the means to defend himself. Then if he was convicted, the punishment would be proportionate to the crime.

This case is not in the in the interest of Real Network or their shareholders - except to make a scapegoat of this man. They can't win (financially speaking) - he can barely afford his own costs, if he loses he won't be able to pay them damages, he won't be able to pay their legal fees and he won't be able to pay the court costs. In my opinion this is malicious use of the courts.

Thom, I suspect the original article is wrong when it states that, if he loses, he would be required to pay Real Networks costs and that he would have to pay upto 210,000 EUR in fines. Is suspect that the court has the power to require him to pay the plaintiff costs and the court costs and they can impose damages of upto 210,000 EUR (paid to Real Networks). However, cases like this (which deal with something a trivial as a link), might attract "contemptuous damages" - i.e. Real Networks win and are awarded (say) a cent in damages and no costs.

* We do sort of do it a little in the UK, but only in certain cases, such as providing legal aid to claimants in medical negligence cases (where the defendants will be the NHS or heavily insured physicians).

Reply Parent Score: 2