United States v. Chalupnik
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
514 F.3d 748 (2008)
BMG Columbia House (BMG) was a mail-order seller of CDs and DVDs. In normal operations, many of the discs were undeliverable. Rather than pay for return of the discs, BMG instructed the United States Postal Service to discard undeliverable discs. James Chalupnik (defendant) worked as a janitorial manager at a post office in North Dakota. Between 2001 and 2006, Chalupnik took undeliverable discs from the office’s trash. Chalupnik then sold the discs to second-hand retailers. Chalupnik admitted that his total gain from sale of the discs was $78,818. Although Chalupnik was initially charged with felony mail theft, Chalupnik pled guilty to misdemeanor copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 506(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(b)(3). Chalupnik was sentenced to two years of probation. Both the government and Chalupnik filed sentencing memorandums regarding payment of restitution to BMG. Chalupnik argued that BMG did not hold any of the copyrights he infringed, and therefore BMG was not a victim entitled to restitution under federal law. Chalupnik also argued that BMG did not suffer any losses, because (1) the undeliverable discs were to be discarded, and (2) buyers from secondhand retailers would not have purchased new discs from BMG. The government argued that BMG suffered losses, because (1) BMG competed with secondhand retailers in the larger music market, and (2) each time one of Chalupnik’s discs was sold, the artist lost royalty payments, and BMG lost a potential sale. The government argued, and the district court agreed, that BMG’s losses were best measured by Chalupnik’s gross revenues of $78,818. Chalupnik appealed the restitution award.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Loken, C.J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 174,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.