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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.

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