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Tenenbaum To SCOTUS: Let's Get This Debate Rolling 114

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Joel Tenenbaum has filed a reply brief in support of his petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, trying to get the Court to take on the thorny issue of copyright statutory damages in the age of mp3 files and micropayments."
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Tenenbaum To SCOTUS: Let's Get This Debate Rolling

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  • Re:So NYCL... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:08PM (#40034583)

    "Tenenbaum's team arguing that the statutory damages for non-commercial use is clearly a major Constitutional issue, and by forcing it through the remittitur process, all the courts are doing is pressuring people like Tenenbaum to settle, rather than ever allowing it to be judged on constitutionality. And that has consequences -- namely in enabling copyright trolls to shake people down, without ever allowing them to challenge the constitutionality of massive statutory damages.

    "I actually think this is a much more persuasive argument than I've seen from Team Tenenbaum in the past, but it seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will actually take the case on. I hope I'm wrong (and then, if I am wrong on that, I hope I'm wrong in my guess as to how it will come out, because this version of the Supreme Court doesn't appear to understand the issues around copyright law)..... It's an interesting argument to get around the lack of a circuit split (conflicting rulings in different circuits, which is one of the key reasons why the Supreme Court agrees to hear certain cases)."

    If I got a letter from RIAA or MPAA demanding $5000 I'd just throw it in the trash.

    It's doubtful they'd come after me, and if they did, then I'd enjoy fighting them in court. And if I wound-up losing and owing $1.5 million (two songs infringed upon), I'd consider that a life sentence. That's worse than the punishment for murder.

  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:32PM (#40034891)

    Okay, this guy Tenenbaum, let's call him Mr. T for short, was sharing files. Sony sued him and won a fuckton of cash from him, more than he'll earn in his lifetime.

    The argument put forth by Mr. T is that those are fair punishments if the infringer is a business, and that's when those laws were drafted. They didn't think that an individual would be on the business end of commercial copyright theft. (Which by definition they cannot be, since they aren't a commercial entity)

    So Mr. T's argument is: come on, now it's $1 a song for an MP3. It's cruel and unusual punishment (thus the constitutionality of it) to subject someone to a lifetime of indebtured service for stealing something that's worth $1. If he stole 500 pies and then burned down the bakery with five people inside, he'd be out of prison in 10 years. For taking a photo of those pies and putting them up on his website so other people could see what those pies looked like, he's being put to financial death.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:39PM (#40034961)

    1. For a while now, many people have viewed he per-infringement statutory damages as pretty ridiculous, since you can end up owing like, $10 million in damages for sharing a folder of mp3s, which does not seem anywhere near any actual damage caused.

    2. The U.S. Supreme Court in the past has held that, for punitive damages, an award of more than about 4x actual damages, and definitely anything in excess of 10x actual damages, is unconstitutional.

    3. Commentators have urged courts to combine #1 and #2 above by extending the holding to statutory damages: i.e. that statutory damages cannot exceed some reasonable multiplier over actual damages.

    4. In the case at issue, Sony BMG v. Tenenbaum, a court did precisely that. A jury returned a $675,000 statutory damages verdict, and the defendant moved to have it reduced as unconstitutionally out of line with actual damages. The court accepted that argument, and reduced it to $67,500.

    5. That decision was subsequently set aside, by an Appeals Court, on some obscure statutory grounds I'm not entirely familiar with, and returned to the District Court for a new trial. Tenenbaum is appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court, asking for the Appeals Court to be overturned, and the District Court's constitutional ruling on excessive damages to be reinstated.

    6. More generally, many commentators see this case as a particularly good opportunity for the Supreme Court to speak definitively on the question, hopefully extending the punitive damages rule to statutory damages.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:44PM (#40035007) Homepage
    Well, that's his argument now. Remember, it started out as "Nuh huh, didn't", until it became painfully obvious that uh huh, did. Joel has had exactly the level of representation that he's paid for - none. His, uh, "legal representatives" have successfully defended him from a few thousand dollar settlement all the way into eternal servitude.

    Given an appeal to SCOTUS, they might manage to get him renditioned to Guantanamo, although on the bright side, it won't have cost him a cent in legal fees to get there, and they'll get some totally awesome anecdotes to deliver in their Law 101 lectures.

  • Can somebody please translate this summary to English.

    Dear Supreme Court:
    When an mp3 file sells at retail for 99 cents, and the record company is out about 5 cents from an unauthorized download, it's beyond the pale to allow me to be penalized more than a few dollars for it, especially since I was not making any money on it, I was just listening to the music.
    So please rule on this issue to take the insanity out of present day copyright law.
    Thank you
    Your friend
    Joel Tenenbaum (& his lawyer Prof. Charlie Nesson)

  • Re:So NYCL... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:20PM (#40036541)

    I haven't seen NYCL (NewYorkCountryLawyer [], for the uninformed) in a while and I do terribly miss him. He's one of the nicer things about Slashdot. But, it looks like he started posting again in the last few days! Hello NYCL!

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats