Friday, July 9, 2010

UPDATE: Judge Reduces Damages KaZaA-Lovin' Grad Student Must Pay RIAA

Picture of Joel TenenbaumImage via Wikipedia
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts Judge Nancy Gertner's 62-page order ought to be music to the ears of notorious P2P Boston Univ. grad student Joel Tenenbaum and no doubt struck a sour chord in the halls of the Recording Industry Association of America ("RIAA").

 Judge Gertner ruled that the amount of damages the jury determined that Tenenbaum owed record companies for unlawfully downloading copyrighted songs was "unconstitutionally excessive." In Sony BMG Music Entertainment et al. v. Joel Tenenbaum (Case No.  07-cv-114446), the jury awarded four record companies $675,000 in total for Tenenbaurm's 2004 downloading of 30 copyrighted songs from defunct peer-to-peer network KaZaA, including Beck's Loser and Nirvana's Come As You Are, that he proceeded to share online.[See "TUOL" posts 8/3/09 & 7/28/09.]

Judge Gertner reduced the judgment against Tenenbaum to  $67,500, one-tenth of the jury's award. She said that the damages amount was still severe and a deterrent to others who might infringe on copyrighted works, Judge Gertner said her ruling also makes clear that the constitutional protection against excessive punitive awards applies equally to "ordinary people" such as the BU grad student as it does to large corporations.

Tenenbaum told The Boston Globe that he was pleased by the reduced award, but hastened to add that the $67,500 judgment was beyond his ability to pay as well.  Here's some unsolicited legal advice to the defendant from the crackerjack "TUOL" legal team: when a 5-star gourmet restaurant comps your meal, it's not polite to ask for seconds.

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