Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Retail Value of Bootlegs Based on Value of Legit Copies

US v. Armstead: Armstead was charged with and convicted of distribution of bootlegged DVDs (100 on one occasion, 200 on another) with "a total retail value of more than $2500." The only issue below and in the Fourth Circuit was how to make a proper measure of "retail value." Armstead argued that it should be the value of bootleg DVDs on the black market, which would be the price paid in the transactions, $500 and $1000, respectively. The Government argued that it should be the value of legitimate copies of what is on the DVDs, which would make each transaction worth well over the $2500 threshold.

The district court and the Fourth Circuit agreed with the Government, holding that "retail value" comes from taking the highest of the "face value," "par value," or "market value" in the retail context. Applying that definition, the evidence was sufficient to sustain Armstead's conviction.

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