Luke Simmons is an eighteen-year-old college freshman. In September, he began attending classes at State College. He lives in a dorm on campus, and has had two roommates, Nick Smith during the first semester, and Dennis Vader during the second semester. Luke is undecided about what he wants to do in life. He has several different interests, including history, literature, and philosophy. Nick, who is also a freshman, plans on being a computer science and mathematics double major. Dennis is a communications major.
Although not the best of friends, Luke and Nick got along well. They respected each other's property, and rarely got on each other's nerves. On occasion, they went to the same events and parties together.
By mid-semester, Luke and Nick seemed to have found their own niches on campus. Frequently, friends would stop by their dorm room to chat and do homework.
One day, Luke heard Nick listening to a mix of music that he particularly liked. Luke asked Nick, "Where did you get that CD?" Nick replied that he downloaded the music from the Internet, saying that, as a computer science major, he knew how to get around the firewall that the College's technology service department put in place in order to prevent such downloading.
Luke asked Nick if he was afraid of being caught. Nick replied "not really." He said that, although a record of all such downloads was being compiled somewhere in the school's database, unless the school voluntarily turned this information over to the record or movie companies, he was safe. With this assurance, Luke asked Nick if he would be willing to disable the firewall on his laptop, too. Nick did so, and that afternoon, Luke began downloading music. Over the remainder of the semester, he downloaded about a hundred songs, and two or three movies.
When Luke's friends found out that he was able to download music and movies, they began giving him requests. At first, Luke did so as a favor to his friends—in an attempt to increase his popularity. In fact, he frequently let his friends just sit at his laptop and download whatever they liked. He did not pay attention to how many movies and/or songs were being recorded on his computer. Eventually, Luke even began to charge a few dollars to people he did not know, especially if it required letting them download movies.
Before the start of the spring semester, Nick called Luke and told him that he was taking a leave of absence from college for a semester because he came down with mono. The college assigned Luke a new roommate, a sophomore named Dennis Vader.
From the beginning, Luke and Dennis did not get along well. They began to argue about everything from how loud their music should be played to how clean the dorm room should be kept. Things only got worse, about halfway through the semester, when both Luke and Dennis began trying to attract the attention of the same girl, a freshman named Joan Wilson. After one incident where Joan came to visit Luke and blatantly ignored Dennis, Dennis appeared visibly upset. Later that day, Dennis asked Luke what he was doing on his computer. Luke said that he was downloading some music and making a CD for Joan. Dennis left the room.
In April, a process server made a visit and informed Luke that he was being sued by Generic Record Company for copyright infringement. In May, federal agents arrested Luke on the charge of criminal copyright infringement. At his arraignment, he was charged with violating 17 U.S.C.A. SS506(a) and 18 USCA SS2319 (2)(A)(B). In essence, both of these laws prohibit an individual from making, reproducing, or distributing (including illegally downloading) copyright material without securing permission from the copyright owner.
Section 2319 of title 18 of the United States Code, states, in pertinent part, that:
(a) Whoever violates section 506(a) (relating to criminal offenses) of title 17 shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section and such penalties shall be in addition to any other provisions of title 17 or any other law.
(b) Any person who commits an offense under subsection (a) of this section--
(2) shall be fined not more than $250,000 or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both, if the offense—
(A) involves the reproduction or distribution, during any one-hundred-and-eighty-day period, of more than one hundred but less than one thousand phonorecords or copies infringing the copyright in one or more sound recordings; or
(B) involves the reproduction or distribution, during any one-hundred-and-eighty-day period, of more than seven but less than sixty-five copies infringing the copyright in one or more motion pictures or other audiovisual works.
Section 506(a) of Title 17 states:
(a) Criminal infringement. Any person who infringes a copyright willfully either—
(1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or
(2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total value of more than $1,000, shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, United States Code. For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyright work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement.
Apparently, federal agents, being alerted to a possible criminal offense by Generic Record Company's lawyers, asked State College if they could view the records of downloads from Luke's computer, and the school complied. Based upon this information, the Assistant U.S. Attorney's indictment charged that Luke was responsible for downloading 714 songs and 54 movies over a 180-day period ranging from October to March. Luke pleaded "not guilty."
As he prepares for trial, Luke and his attorney are contemplating several strategies. First, they argue that several other people had access to Luke's computer; therefore, it is not clear that he was actually responsible for downloading the songs. Second, they argue that, even if Luke did illegally download these materials (which he denies), the crime of criminal copyright infringement requires that he either 1) did so for profit, or 2) downloaded over $1,000 worth of materials. He argues that he neither did so for profit nor downloaded more than $1,000 worth of materials.