Joel Tenenbaum Must Pay $675,000 For 31 Songs
Long Trial Ends With Reinstatement of Original Fine
The Joel Tenenbaum P2P trial has been stumbling around since 2005, when the former Boston University student was first accused of downloading thirty-one copyrighted songs
without paying for them. Tenenbaum's lawyers successfully argued that his original fines were excessive. The Judge at the time agreed, lowering the fine to $67,500, or $2,177 per song -- though the recording industry appealed to the higher courts. Thanks to that appeal, and a refusal by the Supreme Court, the original fine has been reinstated.
A federal court in Massachusetts last week upheld a $675,000 fine Tenenbaum is being forced to pay for his P2P usage, meaning he'll be paying a whopping $21,774 for every song
U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel rejected Tenenbaum's request for a new jury trial, saying jurors had appropriately considered the evidence of Tenenbaum's actions -- downloading and distributing files for two years despite warnings -- and the harm to the plaintiffs. The penalty is at the low end of the range for willful infringement and below the limit for even nonwillful infringement, and thus was not excessive, the judge ruled.
Of course nobody really wins here. Tenenbaum won't be able to pay, and the RIAA's tactics of trying to scare everyone into avoiding copyrighted files has never worked as continual piracy rates make very clear. In fact, the effort backfires for the RIAA -- in that the amount owed is so disconnected from reality that people wind up seeing copyright law as even more bizarre and undeserving of respect. Tenenbaum certainly shares plenty of blame for lying to the courts and a Keystone-cops-esque legal team, but that certainly doesn't make paying $675,000 for thirty one songs reasonable -- or Constitutional