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Joel Tenenbaum’s Big Day in Court

Grad student now owes the record industry $675,000

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joel_tenenbaum_v.jpg

Joel Tenenbaum, who has been ordered to pay $675,000 to four record companies for illegally downloading copyrighted music, will probably appeal the federal court decision. Photo courtesy of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society

In the spirit of downloading, and as proof that enjoying Eminem and playing Beethoven are not mutually exclusive, listen to an allegretto excerpt from the Moonlight Sonata, played by Joel Tenenbaum in 2006, while a senior at Goucher College in Maryland.

In May, Joel Tenenbaum was in Venice, worrying that his preliminary oral exam, part of his Boston University graduate work in physics, wouldn’t make the grade. Titled “Correlation Networks of Earthquakes,” it describes a way to use a fancy physics concept to connect (maybe even predict) seismic rumbles.

Now Tenenbaum (GRS’13) has a different worry: a verdict in Federal District Court in Boston ordering him to pay $675,000 to four record companies because he illegally downloaded and shared 30 copyrighted songs.

Tenenbaum’s crime, admitted on the witness stand during his trial last week, is one that many 25-year-olds might cop to: building a huge collection of tunes, from Nirvana to Beck to the Ramones, downloaded from the likes of Napster and Kazaa, and sharing them with peers. What sets him apart from the rest of the downloading crowd is being taken to court by the record industry for it — only the second person singled out for prosecution. The first, a woman from Minnesota, was ordered to pay $1.92 million in damages in June.

The Recording Industry Association of America “came right out and said they intend to teach the public a lesson,” says Tenenbaum, “so they are trying to make an example of me. But really, charging huge sums for something that everyone in the generation did?”

Not everyone is getting the proverbial 15 minutes of fame about the issue, however, appearing on CNN, quoted in papers coast to coast, and represented in court by Charles Nesson, William F. Weld Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. For Tenenbaum, it was a four-year path, starting with a letter in 2005 charging him with violating musical copyrights. Almost 20,000 people received such letters, and many settled with the record companies, paying several thousand dollars and moving on.

“I sent them a $500 money order,” Tenenbaum says, “but they returned it, saying something like, call us when you’re ready to pay.” That call never came, but two years later a formal lawsuit did. “I showed up in court with my mother and offered $5,250,” he remembers. “They came back and doubled that.”

The record companies have a different take on the matter. They argue that Tenenbaum knowingly broke the law, and despite discussions and negotiations, continued to do so — and tried to cover up his activities.

“In the beginning, I was just trying to stay alive, with the belief that the issue deserves a day in court,” Tenenbaum says. “At that point, Professor Nesson swooped in and saved me.”

Charles Nesson’s reputation as a flamboyant, influential professor of law is unquestioned, although reportedly he has tried only four cases prior to this one (including his 1973 defense of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Defense Department report, which resulted in a devastating indictment of Vietnam War policies). His defense of Tenenbaum during a four-day trial left some observers wondering about tactics; Nesson invoked his own use of marijuana early in the trial and drew chiding from Judge Nancy Gertner to stay focused and ask specific questions.

Nesson’s case teetered when Gertner ruled that an argument (apparently intended to be the heart of Nesson’s defense) that Tenenbaum’s tune-taking was permitted under what’s known as the “fair use doctrine” would not be allowed.

Fair use allows people to take a snippet of copyrighted material — for example, a quote from a book — as part of a broader argument. It also allows someone to alter a copyrighted photograph and make it his own, as artist Shepard Fairey did with a photo of Barack Obama. Tenenbaum and Nesson had hoped to argue that if an entire CD is copyrighted, grabbing one song (even unaltered) could be construed as a fair use snippet. Also, Tenenbaum wasn’t trying to profit from his use, another consideration in his favor.

But the judge wasn’t buying it. “We thought that was a question for the jury,” Tenenbaum says, “but she ruled against us.” The ruling may provide Nesson with grounds for an appeal.

Losing fair use didn’t leave Nesson with a lot to build on; after all, his client admitted on the stand that he broke the law. There was another legal concept that could have helped: the controversial, if historic, notion of “nullification,” which allows juries to conclude that the law, although broken, is unjust, and so any punishment should be minuscule. Nullification has been invoked in this country as far back as the Revolutionary War and for varying reasons — among them to protect white defendants during the years of segregation in the South and to let draft resisters off easy during the Vietnam War.

Defense attorneys are not allowed to argue for nullification, asking a jury, in effect, to ignore the law. So Nesson “danced around” the issue, in Tenenbaum’s words, urging the jury to make its damage award as small as possible, arguing that if it cost 99 cents to download a song on the Internet, it didn’t make sense to force this well-intentioned first-time culprit to pay huge sums. Perhaps the jury saw some merit in this; damages could have been as high as $150,000 per song, and the ruling came back at “only” $22,500 each, a total of $675,000 for 30 songs.

Predictably, the recording industry claims victory, saying that the jury was protecting “the music community” from “the impact of illegal downloading.” Tenenbaum claims some victory as well, “at least in the court of public opinion, if you will. I came to trial to try to get a message across, and I think that message was conveyed.”

But what is the message?

“If you’re going to say that file sharing was wrong or caused damage or harm and I’m responsible for that, then hold me responsible in a reasonable way,” Tenenbaum argues.

That’s not the most satisfying message imaginable, but neither is this case over. There likely will be an appeal, as well as a request to Gertner to reduce the jury’s damage award. How those will fare is hard to say, but one thing seems clear: Tenenbaum will not be paying $675,000 to Sony, Warner Bros., Arista, and UMG. He’d rather go bankrupt, he says.

Meanwhile, “real life” resumes. He is working on a graduate degree in physics, and he taught one summer class. He hopes the physics department will offer him enough financial support so he can pursue his research full-time this fall.

It seems that correlation networks — the kind that don’t violate copyright — deserve further exploration.

Seth Rolbein can be reached at srolbein@bu.edu.

28 Comments

28 Comments on Joel Tenenbaum’s Big Day in Court

  • Spencer Arritt on 08.06.2009 at 8:09 am

    Theft by the RIAA

    I’m disappointed that this article left out a key fact:
    NONE OF THE MONEY TENENBAUM HAS TO PAY WILL GO TO THE ARTISTS WHOSE SONGS HE “STOLE”

    (source: NYT via http://consumerist.com/368663/riaa-pockets-filesharing-settlement-money-doesnt-pay-artists-whose-copyrights-were-infringed )

    In the aforementioned court of public opinion, I think this is an especially relevant point against the RIAA–the real thieves in this situation.

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 8:36 am

    It is so UTTERLY ridiculous that the RIAA is allowed to ruin a few people’s lives so they can keep their grubby, greedy little people in business. They don’t care about the people they sue. They don’t even care about the ARTISTS they represent. All they want is the damn money. When people start suing grandmothers for the entirety of their retirement funds, or 12 year olds, or income-less graduate students for downloading THIRTY songs, then there is something clearly wrong going on. Not necessarily wrong, but at least inequitable. Since when do songs cost 15000 each? Are they paying for the emotional damage on part of the record labels? ???

    If they’re going to sue, then sue everybody who gets caught for the actual amount they owe.

    Any musician who sides with the RIAA is a disgrace.

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 8:48 am

    I really disagree with Joel Tenenbaum’s mentality here — he basically says that everyone did it, so why should he be punished for it? That’s a really weak argument. Nearly everyone speeds, but not everyone gets a speeding ticket — should those who do not have to pay because everyone else was doing it?

    Beyond this, not everyone actually illegally downloaded music. I’m Joel’s age, and I never downloaded music illegally. People who were downloading knew that it was illegal and that if you downloaded music, you risked being caught and punished. Further, the software for downloading kept being shut down because of the copyright violations — it did not take a rocket scientist to determine that continued dowloading of protected songs would lead to trouble.

    I also question Prof. Nesson’s utilization of the “fair use” doctrine to defend Joel Tenenbaum. Fair use is not statutorily recognized, and many cases of late have undermined the doctrine. Further, part of the fair use doctrine is that the use have a purpose which deserves to be protected (generally it furthers the public interest). It is not in the public interest for people to take things without paying for them — this is stealing, plain and simple.

    Joel Tenenbaum is the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry that he stole but is awfully sorry that he got caught.

  • Taylor on 08.06.2009 at 9:04 am

    This ruling is a joke. Bottom line, record companies are not “losing money” from illegal file sharing. They’re losing money because they produce crappy music that people don’t want to buy. Most music that people download is not something that they would spend money on otherwise. Not to mention – to charge him 22,500 per song is ludicrous – that’s about 40,000% more than the money they would have made had he bought the songs on iTunes.

    http://www.downhillbattle.org/itunes/

  • William J. Skocpol on 08.06.2009 at 9:23 am

    Tenacity

    Joel is certainly persistent. This tenacity makes him a demanding but dedicated and helpful TF, ordinarily well received by conscientious students. When he transitions to research support he will teach less frequently, but if the physics department is shorthanded for TFs, he is one of the ones who will probably answer our call.

    I note that this is a civil suit, not a criminal matter, and that this complaint orginally targeted downloading when he was a sophomore in high school, a long time ago. Since then, legal online distribution opportunities have been created, and constraints on peer-to-peer file sharing have been somewhat clarified. My personal opinion is that Joel should suffer “triple damages” based on current legal download rates, which would possibly be about $200 total, depending on the availability of the songs involved. Are you listening, Judge Gertner? If so, Hi, Nancy!

    It is frequently pointed out that RIAA needs a better business model, and ought to quit randomly extorting money from a tiny fraction of its customers. I have seen statistics that report that CD sales increased during the era of unrestricted peer-to-peer file sharing, and have declined ever since RIAA embarked on random extortion as a deterrent.

    Selling individual songs online for a dollar or two is the equivalent of CD pricing for whole “albums” when distribution costs are taken into account. This business model provides a significant return for the creators and distributors, but works better if people have the opportunity to hear songs once before deciding whether to purchase them.

    Commercial radio can afford per-play fees that the RIAA et al. have been satisfied with. Unfortunately there is always the threat that RIAA will next go after internet streaming by noncommercial stations – the very stations that expand the awareness of new music.

    The recording industry needs to reinvent the digital equivalent of something that betrays my age — 45 rpm singles (with a flip side), available at local record shops with listening booths. This may require built-in technology to degrade subsequent capture and transmission of digital music beyond individual-use boundaries, but that would be a good place for them to put their money, rather than paying lawyers to persecute actual or potential customers.

    Nevertheless, “listen up” students — spread recommendations about exciting new music virally and socially, then download legally for a fee. Go directly to the artists where possible. It is the right thing to do, regardless of the faults of the nasty old RIAA.

    William J. Skocpol, Professor of Physics

  • Don Mo on 08.06.2009 at 9:26 am

    These jury are fools

    These jury are fools. Helping the industry stick to the individuals? S*** them! They are suckers.

    Tenenbaum should appeal all the way to Supreme Court; if still lose it, declear bankruptcy!

  • amlaskow on 08.06.2009 at 9:55 am

    Do not upload music!

    Mr. Rolbein:

    Today’s subject line in the BU Today email, “He owes $675K for downloading tunes,” is misleading. No one has gotten sued for downloading music; those who have been sued were those who uploaded/shared music for others to use. While I enjoyed the article, the message should be “do not upload music” or “do not upload ASCAP/EMI/BMI” music.

    Best,
    Brian Gold

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 10:48 am

    RE: These jury are fools / This ruling is a joke

    Wrong. Joel admitted on the stand that he broke the law. This is in contrast to his previous statements, which means he also committed perjury. Thus, there is no question he is guilty, the question is how much does he owe. Further, the question is not whether or not songs cost ~ $22,000 each (they clearly do not), the question is how many people downloaded these songs from Joel? Take that number and multiply is by $1 or so. That is how much Joel is responsible for. And if Joel is correct in saying “[paraphrase] everyone in my generation does this [downloads music illegally]. . . it comes naturally” then there are certainly enough people who would have downloaded the songs from him to warrant the penalty.

    Finally, watch the CCN clip in which he discusses the difference between stealing from Best Buy (for example) versus stealing off the internet. He says the only he reason he does not steal from Best Buy is because it requires planning, etc. He steals from the internet because it is (or so he thought) easy to get away with. Alas, it is not!

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 10:50 am

    Anonymous comments

    I am posting this anonymously, although I shall immediately reveal my identity. Anonymous comments are a bit cowardly and totally lacking in credibility. Why allow them?

    John Baillieul
    johnb@bu.edu

  • Khalil on 08.06.2009 at 11:25 am

    The Ruling is Indeed a Joke

    Rulings like this are why I hate juries. It’s a great idea in concept, but in the end, a group that can’t get out of jury duty in the end usually isn’t filled with bright people.

    Simply put, a $30,000 penalty sends a message (30 songs illegally downloaded/uploaded at a cost of $1000 a song is NOT a soft punishment), but sends the message in a reasonable way. Making this guy go bankrupt by charging him a penalty that everyone knows he can’t pay (he needed his mom’s help to offer to pay $5000 for Pete’s sake) doesn’t help the music industry at all. It just gives them a PR nightmare, like their lawsuit against the mom in Minnesota for over a million dollars.

    If you want to punish violators, the music industry has the right to do that. But slamming nonthreatening people (a mom, a future professor) doesn’t do the industry any favors.

    And to be clear, the music industry is in trouble because people used to have to buy a whole CD to get the 2 or 3 actually good songs that are made by modern artists. Now, people can just buy the 3 good songs, in effect depriving the music industry of 3/4 of the revenue they usually received from selling CDs.

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 11:34 am

    When I began to read this article I thought that suing a college student is within itself wrong. This poor student, likely a future pillar of our scientific society, now will forever have this silly mistake hanging over his financial head. He could pay what is the equivalent of 6+ degrees or 8 years of post grad employment with the alternative of filing for bankruptcy at 25 and losing the ability to buy a home (or an ice cream) for 7-10 years. However, after finishing the article I realized that as petty as it may be to you and me, it is serious business to the industrialists that his downloading affected. Mr. Tenenbaum failed to abide by the law and stole from the music industry. He knew of the risks involved yet consciously did so anyway. He took a chance and was caught. We learn from a very young age that there are consequences to our actions and that we have to pay for our mistakes. Our society is cluttered with folks who think that he/she is above the law and this mentality has created a worldwide landfill! I believe that Tenenbaum thought that he was above the law. Clearly, he is not. The cheap becomes expensive, everyone knows that. Sadly Mr. Tenenbaum’s frugality (or need for thrill) has become extremely costly. Dude, should have just paid the 30 bucks!!! But he didn’t and now he must take responsibility for his actions. Sony, Warner Bros., Arista, and UMG are rich, no doubt, but that doesn’t give us the right to steal from them. If everyone decided to jump off the Zakim, would you? (I do however question the amount owed. Can you, in all reality, calculate how much HE as an individual cost THEM? Likely not. I mean PLEASE Mr. Judicial System, scare him and society but don’t actually hold him to it! 30 songs are not worth a lifetime.)

  • Chris on 08.06.2009 at 11:58 am

    The music industry is completely turning over. Rolling Stone reported on this in their March 2009 issue: since 2000, CD sales have dropped 49%. There has been a MASSIVE shift to digitally downloaded music, both from sources such as iTunes and Amazon and, since it is now easier than ever, from sharing networks that don’t cost a dime. The brick-and-mortar age of music will be over in the next decade.

    The RIAA, along with the Big Four of the recording industry in the US, know this trend perfectly well, and have attempted to cope with the devastating fall in whole record sales by incorporating digital music into their business models (e.g. Warner Music Group selling DRM-free music via AmazonMP3). But while they still can, they’re going to open these lawsuits (though the RIAA stopped suing individuals in late 2008- they’re going after ISPs now, who don’t seem to really care).

    I’ve downloaded music from P2P networks myself, and I really won’t try to legitimize it…it’s against copyright law by far. I just like free stuff, along with the millions of my peers that I share with. As long as I have a way to do it, I’m going to go right ahead. It’s easier than ever to make and distribute music, especially independently. If I like a band’s music enough, I’ll go to their shows or buy their merchandise. The bloated, top-heavy music industry of the past 50 years is on its last legs.

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 12:09 pm

    Nice Try

    The reason Mr. Tenenbaum’s offer was rebuffed by the recording company is because he continued to download songs while trying to negotiate a settlement. Also, the fair use defense, in this case, was grasping at straws, for which he had no chance of winning.

    The RIAA knows they will never see a dime of the judgement. So, now that Mr. Tenenbaum has had his day in court, albeit an expensive one, he should now seek a bankruptcy lawyer and get on with his life.

  • Grade Deflation on 08.06.2009 at 1:48 pm

    Napster is A Pay Service

    Just wanted to point out that Napster is indeed a pay service now, and I happen to use it legally.

    Also, Boston University is NOTORIOUS for:

    1) Telling their freshman downloading stuff is wrong during orientation and,

    2) Illegally downloading material (according to the freep a few years ago).

    Obviously, him being forced to pay this large sum of money will be used by the school to further scare BU students from doing this sort of thing,

    Peace.

  • Bsalim on 08.06.2009 at 1:51 pm

    Cruel and Unusual punishment

    Isn’t there a law against cruel and unusual punishment? 600+ K for 30 songs?
    The judge and jury should be ashamed.

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 2:56 pm

    kazaa and napster? A little out of date don’t you think. Napster is a legal service now.

  • Beaner on 08.06.2009 at 5:09 pm

    The real motivation

    It’s fairly obvious that the recording industry is full of anti-semites.

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 6:59 pm

    This ic crazy and stupid

    The record company is making millions of dollars for each CD/song they produce. Why the hell are they going to prosecute a college student for sharing songs? Is their reason because they are “losing revenue”? Not to mention, artists aren’t even the ones getting the money from the lawsuit, but is going to the record company.

    So the college student now has to pay $675,000 because he uploaded and shared 30 songs online. I agree his arguments were weak, but come on. Anyone else see the picture here? I want to know why the hell the punishment is that big, or rather even have that punishment. It’s as ridiculous as someone recording their cat meow, posting it online, making millions of it, and then having the store that sold him the cat to sue them because they didn’t share the profit? What the courts have to do is distinguish between what is reasonable in perspective to all the parties. A college student is paying for college against a record company that makes millions, even billions even today with all this file sharing. Seriously.

  • Anonymous on 08.06.2009 at 10:23 pm

    Stupid. He could have settled out of court for 5,000. but no. I guess his 15 min of fame came with a pricetag. youch.

  • Anonymous on 08.08.2009 at 1:02 am

    Why sue downloaders?

    Why are record companies suing downloaders? Simply because they are trying to recoup money lost due to their own stupidity eg. Mariah Carey’s label gives her $20,000,000 up front for her “Glitter” cd. It sells 50,000 copies. She is paid $400 a cd. Guess how the label has to recoup their losses? CD clubs were demonized by the labels, and most were shut down. Are the legal 99 cent downloads of cd quality? If not, why not? That would seem to be the basis for a lawsuit in itself…selling music of dubious quality, and claiming the buying public is getting a 10 song cd for $10. Not if that music is not cd quality.

  • Anonymous on 08.08.2009 at 10:50 am

    Joel failed at a number of things...

    First of all, I’ll support all the users stating that the ruling is too harsh – it is totally unfeasible, let alone reasonable. I really do not know how anyone expects Mr. Tenenbaum to come up with this amount of money, unless he sells a kidney (sarcasm intended).
    However, I will point out that Mr. Tenenbaum is ultimately at fault, and allowing this issue to get out of hand is an indication of his own lack of responsibility and lapse of judgment. Downloading music is illegal. Uploading and sharing that same music can get you into even more trouble, because you are essentially distributing something that was obtained illegally in the first place. Mr. Tenenbaum should have known that – everyone does, it’s all over the news. By uploading the music, he was basically begging for a lawsuit. It is worth noting that most people who upload music are based in places where cyber-laws are virtually non-existent, and internet control is a scarce. So why do it in America?

    In the end, however, the $625,000 that Mr. Tenenbaum has to pay salvage his public image. The amount is insane given that he only shared 30 songs. I’m sure the RIAA know that he cannot pay it; yet they had the audacity to applaud the ruling. Lets wait and see where the appeal goes…

  • Anonymous on 08.08.2009 at 10:52 am

    Both sides to blame...

    First of all, I’ll support all the users stating that the ruling is too harsh – it is totally unfeasible, let alone reasonable. I really do not know how anyone expects Mr. Tenenbaum to come up with this amount of money, unless he sells a kidney (sarcasm intended).
    However, I will point out that Mr. Tenenbaum is ultimately at fault, and allowing this issue to get out of hand is an indication of his own lack of responsibility and lapse of judgment. Downloading music is illegal. Uploading and sharing that same music can get you into even more trouble, because you are essentially distributing something that was obtained illegally in the first place. Mr. Tenenbaum should have known that – everyone does, it’s all over the news. By uploading the music, he was basically begging for a lawsuit. It is worth noting that most people who upload music are based in places where cyber-laws are virtually non-existent, and internet control is a scarce. So why do it in America?

    In the end, however, the $625,000 that Mr. Tenenbaum has to pay salvage his public image. The amount is insane given that he only shared 30 songs. I’m sure the RIAA know that he cannot pay it; yet they had the audacity to applaud the ruling. Lets wait and see where the appeal goes…

  • Anonymous on 08.08.2009 at 6:56 pm

    They were right

    Whoever is saying that this is crazy and stupid is absolutley wrong. While in this particular case these may be very large corporations that are suing Tenenbaum, they own the rights to the songs and have the right, under the constitution, to have their songs protected from illegal downloading. If this had been an independent artist, the revenue from these songs would have been very important to that artist and people would not be making these comments at all. The constitution does not make these distinctions and therefore, they have every right to sue Tenenbaum to protect their constitutional right. It is completely irrelevant that thousands of people download songs illegaly because, had they the interest, the record companies would have the right to sue every single one of them. Also, Nesson’s attempt to utilize the fair use doctrine is ridiculous as an entire song is not a snipet of an album but its own copyrighted material. In addition, for fair use to be instated, there must be public interest for this utilization of the copyrighted material, which Tenenbaum’s private use of illegally downloaded music obvioulsly did not have.

  • Anonymous on 08.11.2009 at 3:56 pm

    Whether he is right or not, the sum he is expected to pay is completely unreasonable. A song costs .99 cents to download. If the fact that he has to pay about $23,000 per song, well he might as well just buy the copyrights for it. Did the kid who created Napster have to even pay that much? And if he did wouldnt that have been more deserved? A total of 4 years at the oh so wonderful BU costs about $200,000. Now triple that and that’s how much this kid owes. BU sucks. RIAA sucks. The end.

  • Anonymous on 08.24.2009 at 12:47 pm

    theft is theft

    As only a few people mentioned here, He didn’t just steal songs, he distributed them, even after being notified. What he did is worse than shoplifting because he shared his shoplifting with others. If you ever bothered to buy a cd in a store (which I do) and looked at the credits, you would see the long list of people whose livelihood depends on the sales. Music doesn’t magically appear out of thin air. Buildings are rented and filled with state of the art equipment that most musicians can’t afford on their own and then manned by people with the expertise to use the state of the art equipment……Making music is an industry just like making a car and the fact that the results can be transmitted over the internet doesn’t make it any less wrong to take it without paying. A car might be more expensive than a song, but the principle is the same, and somebody isn’t getting paid somewhere every time a song is stolen. Radio stations pay every time they play a song, why should Tennenbaum be allowed to steal songs and broadcast them for free? Although my first thought was that he was being charged excessively, if we multiplied the thirty songs by how many people he shared them with, we would get a better picture of the damage he has done.

  • Jameie on 12.18.2009 at 7:01 pm

    I agree. Thief is indeed thief, the problem is not that. The problem is the punishment is not commensurate to the crime he committed. Sure slap him with hundred thousand dollar fine to teach him a lesson but +600K? That is just vindictive.

  • Chris on 10.09.2010 at 7:26 am

    Punishment should fit the crime

    I don’t think anyone’s disputing the fact that what Joel did was wrong, against the law. He knew what he was doing was illegal and he continued to do it so yes, he is a thief and should be punished.

    His punishment should fit the crime but it does not in any way, shape or form do that and I agree with everyone who says it’s a ridiculous amount for not just a college student, but for anyone to have to pay.

    I’m from the UK and it seems from this side of the pond that punitive damages awarded in the U.S. are frequently just so out of proportion to the ‘crime’ as it were. Surely, a reasonable amount (like say, $2,000) would have got the message across to this young man who would likely have worked extra hours somewhere and paid it off.

    Now the RIAA gets nothing as he will undoubtedly file for bankruptcy as no-one in their right mind id going to get saddled with such a ridiculous amount of debt for just 30 songs. It’s ludicrous.

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2011 at 1:05 pm

    I’m disappointed that this article left out a key fact: NONE OF THE MONEY TENENBAUM HAS TO PAY WILL GO TO THE ARTISTS WHOSE SONGS HE “STOLE” (source: NYT via http://consumerist.com/368663/riaa-pockets-filesharing-settlement-money-… ) In the aforementioned court of public opinion, I think this is an especially relevant point against the RIAA–the real thieves in this situation.

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