Scale of legal penalties and fines for different crimes
June 8, 2010 3:45 PM   Subscribe

The whole BP oil spill (with few legal ramifications so far, although apparently there is a cap on the damages which BP would be required to pay) and the recurrent stories of copyright violations (with many outrageous fines to poor saps who got caught downloading movies and music) got me thinking: is anyone aware of a nice infographic of different fines issued / punitive damages awarded for different crimes? I am basically curious how it would look like for different countries, and if it could be used as a rough "how much we value what" scale.

I am well aware that we are nowhere near the end of the BP story, but the fact that copyright violations have been awarded such humongous settlements makes me wonder about other truly damaging environmental/human rights/civil rights violations by corporations which were awarded much smaller settlements.

Similarly, we often hear of cases where people are sentences to just a handful of years in prison for rape/manslaughter, while sometimes we see much longer jail sentences for petty theft (think 3 strikes laws).

I'd be curious to see something like plots of crimes in a "fine vs. time" diagram.

Has anyone ever made or seen anything like that? Any artistically inclined lawyers out there?
posted by TheyCallItPeace to Law & Government (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Question: do you want fines that "stuck" or were actually paid, or fines that were claimed?

Data point: RIAA Says LimeWire Owes $1.5 Trillion, for 200,000,000 alleged downloads, at $750 per (via)
posted by filthy light thief at 4:15 PM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: I guess I am interested in fines that were issued in judgement, because it would be an indication of how the judicial system gives importance to one thing over the other. So I am not so interested in what the RIAA asks for, but what a judge says they should get in the end.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 7:36 PM on June 8, 2010

Sounds like a good candidate for a MeFi project. I'm scared to see the results :)
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:34 PM on June 8, 2010

It is worth noting that in the copyright case the laws were largely written before it was possible for some average person to break the law to that scale. It is not clear to me that it is a question of values so much as the laws have not yet been updated to reflect new technologies. I think there is a reasonable chance the hurt locker "legalized extortion" may eventually lead to reform of punitive damages.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 5:27 AM on June 9, 2010

Response by poster: Good point, algorithmic dog. I suppose that this sort of visualization would be a good tool to demonstrate that the laws have not caught up with the technology (in the case of copyright), and also that they have not dealt well with corporate abuse of power (in the case of chemical spills and related damages).
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 8:25 AM on June 9, 2010

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