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Piracy The Courts

New Judge Assigned To Tenenbaum Case Upholds $675k Verdict 312

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In SONY v Tenenbaum, the new District Judge assigned to the case has disagreed with the previous judge, and instead of reducing the $22,500 per file award to $2250 per file, has instead upheld the jury's verdict. The jury initially found defendant Joel Tenenbaum to have 'willfully' infringed the RIAA copyrights by downloading 30 mp3 files which would normally retail for 99 cents each, and awarded the plaintiff record companies $675,000 in 'statutory damages.' Tenenbaum moved to set the verdict aside on both common law remittitur grounds and constitutional due process grounds. Judge Gertner — the District Judge at the time — felt that remittitur would be a futility, and on constitutional grounds reduced the verdict to $2250 per file. The RIAA appealed. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals remanded on the ground that Judge Gertner ought to have decided the question on remittitur grounds and reached the constitutional question prematurely. By the time the case arrived back in District Court, Judge Gertner had retired, and a new judge — Judge Rya Zobel — had been assigned. Judge Zobel denied the remittitur motion. And then Judge Zobel denied the constitutional motion, leaving the larger verdict in place. I think it is reasonable to expect Tenenbaum to appeal this time around."
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New Judge Assigned To Tenenbaum Case Upholds $675k Verdict

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  • Wow. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:34PM (#41100969)

    We all agree the courts are disgusting. And yet we are doing nothing to fix them. We need an internal affairs department for prosecutors, legislators and judges, who do nothing but watch over their shoulder for this kind of thing.

  • by Angrywhiteshoes ( 2440876 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:41PM (#41101083)
    I'm not sure how they can say you owe $675,000 for stealing roughly $30 worth of products. If I stole 3 CDs from Wallmart, would I also be charged $675,000? What if I stole $30 from someone? I am not familiar with the case, but I don't see on here that he stole with the intent to undermine future sales of that company, causing significant losses.

    I got caught stealing when I was younger. What happened to me was they recovered their items and I was banned from the store until I became an adult. Maybe they should just ban him from having access to these types of things, like making it illegal for him to have internet in his home, instead of an outrageous fine that most people can't afford.

    May as well just start hanging people for stealing music/movies.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @05:09PM (#41101477)

    1) The level of damages should not exceed 10 times the value of the product/song

    And where did you get that number from? So, if you are a music artist and you sell your song for $1 from your small, low traffic website, I, as a big corporation can take your song and distribute it from my big high traffic website for free and sell a million dollars worth of advertising. And the most you can sue me for is $10?

    Actually, this is close to the scenario for which the statutory damage amounts were created for. We should distinguish between someone who pirated a single copy of a song for personal use vs a person (or organization) who is willfully redistributing for profit.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @06:08PM (#41102375)

    Depends who you ask.

    3 meals a day and a bed vs 'guess I'm running from the law and living off the land, because that's more money than my gross income for the next hundred years'

    Which just goes to show you that if you're caught downloading 30 songs, your best bet is to murder the policeman that comes to arrest you. At least then you'll have it easier.

  • by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Thursday August 23, 2012 @06:16PM (#41102483)

    what really pisses me off is the retroactive removal of works from public domain.

    Just proves who is really in charge of the country, since otherwise that would have been slammed out the door as an ex post facto violation.

  • I used to have thousands of my CDs ripped to .MP3s, but after I started seeing court cases like this I deleted them all and donated the CDs to my local library. I even used to purchase DRM free music too, deleted that shit. Look, I can't really PROVE that I got these music files legally. The risk of a single song costing me thousands of dollars, more if you factor in legal fees and lost work time, just isn't worth it taking the risk.

    My personal internet connection has a dynamic IP. I've looked up my "current" IP address several times on sites like You Have Downloaded [] and found that the previous holders of the addresses were using Bittorrent to download stuff -- I assume legally, since I don't presume guilt without supporting evidence; Unfortunately, the legal system doesn't always follow the same logic. Interestingly, the You Have Downloaded site is closed, citing inaccuracy concerns...

    I don't have much of a choice in ISPs. That said, I have to put a lot of faith in ISP staff to do proper record keeping in order to avoid wrongful litigation from goons like the RIAA or MPAA. This is the same staff of morons who gork my bill on a regular basis, and can't give me basic info like alternate DNS settings without first following a 30 step problem resolution script.

    Keeping my systems free of any legally encumbered media is unfortunately a small safeguard I must make -- I seriously can not afford to risk the alternative. Fortunately, there is a thriving local music scene where I live, and there exists creative commons licensed music and video to enjoy. I wouldn't even call what I do a "boycott" of 'mainstream' media. I'd still buy the music & movies if they came with less troubling licenses and far less dangerous litigation precedents.

    Sadly, a cost vs benefit risk analysis clearly shows the danger far outweighs the entertainment value of said media. Even worse, the "lost sales" caused by me withdrawing from their markets are most certainly attributed to "piracy".

    I still own a Sony Betamax dual tape deck...
    Paramount once sued Sony [], accusing them of contributing to copyright infringement via producing a device that could be used to record live TV, or duplicate videos. Sony won that case on the grounds that although it could be used to infringe copyright, and even if infringement was the device's primary use case, there was still the POSSIBILITY that device could be used in non-infringing ways.

    My, how the times have changed, eh? I'm a long time hardware & software hacker -- I hack on all my hardware as a general rule, so I couldn't risk owning a PS3 after the Sony v G.Hotz debacle -- I would have thought his work had the POSSIBILITY of being used in non-infringing ways... Nowadays, I don't even buy their music or movies, and games with "project $10" / online unlock codes and draconian DRM are also off the table for me. Damn. This current set of copyright laws is bad for everyone.

    I sometimes joke that I started making my own games because I didn't want to hang up my controller, but I couldn't find any with EULAs I could actually agree to.

  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @07:35PM (#41103417) Homepage

    The fact that the songs normally retail for $0.99 is completely irrelevant. It would perhaps be relevant if he were merely downloading songs for his own personal enjoyment. That's not, however, what he was doing. He was downloading and then redistributing.

    The relevant price comparison should be to the cost of a fixed price license that allows the licensee to make unlimited copies and redistribute them without restriction to anyone in the world, with no requirement to track or report on any of this to the licensor.

    That license is going to cost a lot more than $0.99 per song.

  • Kickstarter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @10:35PM (#41104801)

    1. To pay this guys fine and restore give him back his life... cmon, there's worse things to give a buck to
    2. To fund ongoing ad campaigns for worldwide copyright reform

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