The Supreme Court has asked a record company to file a brief in a case that asks the justices to weigh in on a wave of copyright lawsuits filed by the recording industry against college students and others for unpaid music downloads.
The case is Harper v. Maverick Recording, the first to reach the high court from the 40,000 legal actions the industry took in recent years to combat illegal downloads. The petition, which we wrote about here in our new newsletter Supreme Court Insider, asserts that the downloaders should be viewed as "innocent infringers" subject to smaller fines than record companies sought. Whitney Harper was a high school cheerleader when she was sued for downloading songs through KaZaA.
After Kiwi Camara of Camara & Sibley in Houston filed the petition in May, Maverick in August waived its right to respond, which often occurs in Court practice. But on Sept. 15, according to the Court's online docket, the Court requested a response from Maverick.
The Court's unusual action is a sign of the Court's interest in the case. A recent study indicated that the Court's request for a response significantly increases the chances the Court will ultimately grant review -- which could turn into a major contest for the music industry. Maverick's lawyer in the case Eve Burton, senior counsel at Holme Roberts & Owen in Denver, declined comment.