Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can A Song Be Worth $22,500!

Some rock music today can be annoying to grownups if they have to listen to it, but imagine later being socked with a court penalty of $22,500 per song. A student at Boston University, Joel Tenenbaum, was one of the targets of a crackdown led by the Recording Industry Association of America against individuals who were transferring copyrighted music over the internet without paying for it. In 2008, the average teenager downloaded the tremendous total of 800 songs without copyright permission. The Music industry was complaining that new sites facilitating this activity were constantly arising on the internet. The Association sued more than 12,000 people, and thousands more received notices but were not actually sued.

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:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep comments short. Long comments will be deleted.