The industry sent Joel Tenenbaum a letter complaining about what he was doing, but he allegedly continued copying music online while blaming houseguests, sisters and burglars for the activity on his own computer. A big array of music companies then sued Tenenbaum. The student turned to some bright people at the Harvard Law School to help defend his case. He lost. A jury imposed a penalty of $22,500 for each of 30 songs that he had copied without permission. The fine totaled an incredible $675,000.
The trial judge found that fine to be unconscionably excessive, so she dropped one decimal point and reduced the fine to $67,500. That did not please the music industry, which took an appeal. The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit sided with the music industry and reinstated the massive verdict. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case. This case has now bounced back to the trial court. The original judge has retired so a new judge will reconsider the size of the fine, and Tenenbaum is hoping for a reduction.
Listen to the radio commentary here: