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Judge: Tenenbaum's $675,000 For 30 Song Downloads Not Excessive

Posted by: , 13:44 AEST, Mon August 27, 2012

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New judge says the fine of $22,500 per song download is not excessive in the copyright case involving university student Joel Tenenbaum's download of 30 songs
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Image/Photo Credit: Sam Howzit @ Flickr, CC

The Joel Tenenbaum copyright lawsuit saga will continue on in the courts, after a new judge found the original $675,000 damages verdict to be perfectly reasonable, while Tenenbaum's lawyers vowed to appeal the verdict yet again.

The original jury decided damages verdict was first handed down in 2009, which was subsequently appealed. The original judge in the case, Judge Nancy Gertner actually supported phD student Tenenbaum's position that the damages was excessive, and reduced the amount to $65,000, on "constitutional grounds".

That verdict was then appealed by lawyers for the recording industry. The appeals court backed the recording industry's decision and overturned Judge Gertner's verdict in September 2011, but still agreed that the original reward of $675,000 was excessive, just not "constitutionally" so. The appellate court said that Judge Gertner had other means at her disposal to reduce the damages without involving constitutional issues, and ordered the case to go back to the lower courts for a further decision.

Back in May, Tenenbaum's lawyers requested a Supreme Court hearing on the issue, which was rejected.

This week's decision, unfortunately, went against Tenenbaum, as a new judge, Judge Rya Zobel, decided to uphold the original $675,000 verdict. Judge Zobel felt the reward, $22,500 per song, was reasonable given the maximum could have been as high as $150,000 for wilful infringement, and below the $30,000 maximum for non-wilful infringement, and that evidence pointing to Tenenbaum's wilful infringement was strong. 

"In short, there was ample evidence of willfulness and the need for deterrence based on Tenenbaums blatant contempt of warnings and apparent disregard for the consequences of his actions," the judge wrote in her verdict.

Tenenbaum's lawyers will now lodge an appeal of Judge Zobel's verdict.


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