Court reinstates $675,000 damages for downloading

Sep 19, 2011

(AP) -- A federal appeals court has reinstated a $675,000 judgment against a Boston University student who illegally downloaded and shared songs on the Internet.

In 2009, a jury in Boston awarded $675,000 to the , representing four record labels, in a lawsuit filed against Joel Tenenbaum.

A judge later reduced the award to $67,500, finding the original penalty "unconstitutionally excessive."

In his appeal, Tenenbaum sought to overturn the penalty. But the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the full award in a ruling Friday.

Tenenbaum's lawyers argue that federal copyright laws and the Digital Theft Deterrence Act were not meant to target consumers. Lawyers representing the recording industry argue that the economic impact of is much greater than the sharing of one song.

Explore further: Facebook lets users squirrel items away

3.5 /5 (6 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Boston judge cuts penalty in song-sharing case

Jul 10, 2010

(AP) -- A federal judge on Friday drastically trimmed a $675,000 verdict against a Boston University graduate student who was found liable for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs online, saying the jury damage award ...

Minimal damages sought in Mass. song-download case

Jul 31, 2009

(AP) -- A lawyer for a Boston University student who admitted illegally downloading and sharing music urged a federal jury Friday to "send a message" to the music industry by awarding only minimal damages.

Mass. student on trial admits sharing tunes online

Jul 30, 2009

(AP) -- A Boston University graduate student accused of illegally swapping music online nonchalantly admitted in court Thursday that he has downloaded and shared hundreds of songs by Nirvana, Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins ...

Recommended for you

Bitcoin 'mining pool' promises to stay small

Jul 17, 2014

The largest group of bitcoin miners, which maintains and processes transactions in the digital currency, is promising to avoid majority control of the currency as a temporary measure to maintain the payment system's credibility.

User comments : 29

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Star_Gazer
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 19, 2011
That sucks!!
Jeddy_Mctedder
4.6 / 5 (9) Sep 19, 2011
the courts in the u.s are there not to protect property rights for all, but to protect the big corporations as always. the value of the judgement to the corpoorations is not the money, but the fear and punitive value that a number like this will cause in the public.

they are essentially demanding corporal punishement to deter would be thieves. not only are they destroying this persons life, but they are also just failing to stop piracy.

ultimately the young man's life who they have destroyed may also try and take his revenge.

it is a vicious cycle, and one that ends with tragic results for everyone.
georgesoros
1.8 / 5 (16) Sep 19, 2011
I think he deserved it. Everybody makes excuses for downloading copyrighted material but the fact is the artists put a lot of effort into making it and the corporates invested money and deserve a return on their investment.

This guy didn't just download one song, he was the origninal seeder and many people downloaded from him who would have otherwise bought the albim.
OverweightAmerican
1.6 / 5 (14) Sep 19, 2011
I agree with George. Joel Tenenbaum thought he could steal artists origninal work without any consequenses. Serves him right!

Why don't all you stupid advocates of illegal downloading actually show some initiative and create something original, write some music or write a book containing original ideas and then say how you feel about copyright voilation.
LuckyBrandon
4 / 5 (5) Sep 19, 2011
This guy didn't just download one song, he was the origninal seeder and many people downloaded from him who would have otherwise bought the albim.


Um, no....first off, the record company made their money plus 20 million just in commercial rights to any decent songs (those same songs being downloaded). Seriously...I don't know 1 person who has bought an "album" as you put it in the last decade (seriously though, albums went out in the 80s, lets keep in that way)...the fact is, its simple enough to eliminate this stuff...they simply dont want to because its actually FREE PUBLICITY that they then want to say "oh this guy stole it". The fact is, they cannot convict everyone of this without getting overthrown...as was stated, this is only for the corporations who actually run our country...if you had the money the record company has, those charges would simply go away without a second thought I guarantee. The US does not have a justice system, it is a money making system...
mgb
4 / 5 (4) Sep 19, 2011
I agree with George. Joel Tenenbaum thought he could steal artists origninal work without any consequenses. Serves him right!

Why don't all you stupid advocates of illegal downloading actually show some initiative and create something original, write some music or write a book containing original ideas and then say how you feel about copyright voilation.


When you buy a CD or DVD, you don't ask if the seller has the right to distribute the material. It is and should be the responsibility of the provider to ensure laws are met. It is NOT illegal to view/play/download content from the Internet.
OverweightAmerican
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 20, 2011
mgb, you are right but that is still irrelevant in this case. He was prosecuted because he SEEDED and distributed material illegally.
mgb
5 / 5 (3) Sep 20, 2011
mgb, you are right but that is still irrelevant in this case. He was prosecuted because he SEEDED and distributed material illegally.


Well... I wasn't really commenting on the article, but rather, your post (which only mentions the downloading).

On the issue of copyright violation, its my opinion that the laws governing them are in dire need of revision.
LivaN
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 20, 2011
I agree with George. Joel Tenenbaum thought he could steal artists origninal work without any consequenses. Serves him right!

Hes fined over half a million dollars for stealing some songs? Unless he uploaded hundreds of gigabytes of song data I can't see how it's fair. And it's not as if he caused any loss of sales. Check out the songs he's being charged with seeding and tell me you can't find at least ten other sources for each song? You should know by now that it's not the artists who they're stealing from, but the record label. The middle man, who is as fat as can be.
frajo
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 20, 2011
Lawyers are paid for not being fair. This is not immoral as it is needed to have a decent defense in court.
The accessibility of paid lawyers, however, is a function of the accessibility to money - and from here gross unfairness spreads. The unfairness in legal systems of this kind is so massive that certain people (people earning their money within that system) tend to ignore the principle of fairness (in order not to be confronted with an unsolvable personal dilemma).

And that's why we can understand users like georgesoros and OverweightAmerican: They ignore the principle of fairness because they are afraid of it.
Sin_Amos
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 20, 2011
I love the fake accounts on this commenting, obviously TROLLS from companies that make money on MIDDLEMEN. Sorry, but musicians need to work for a living, which means playing shows and selling merchandise. The music if what gets the support. That simple. A physical disc is meaningless. No one owns intellectual property, because it doesn't exist. It is a convention made by those that want money for nothing. What is takes to make music is nothing. I can record a track barely trying. It is that simple. I see CORPORATIONS polluting ground water and sickening people and only paying half that amount, so WTF. I think the properties of our plutocracy is a disgusting. We need to fight the polluters and maim the capitalistic pigs that sacrifice other people's health and well-being for profit. Disgusting.
Magnette
1 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2011
LivaN - "Check out the songs he's being charged with seeding and tell me you can't find at least ten other sources for each song?"

Because others are doing it does that make the digital theft of the music ok then?

Frajo, In it's simplist terms the principle of fairness means that for every disc/record/download sold the owner of the rights to that music whether they're the artist, the label, the producers or whomever are fully entitled to their share of the percentages. Illegal seeding of music cuts them out completely from earning from their work. In no way can that be right.

Musicians play shows and sell merchandise to make a living as well as from selling discs but not all fans can afford to go to shows especially if the artist they want to see is from a different country or continent.
Sometimes buying a disc or a download is the only way they can enjoy the music.
Pavel-chemist
not rated yet Sep 20, 2011
Trying to feed trolls again.
Such a fine is only meaningful if this guy has sold downloaded songs. But he has only shared these songs and for no profit. And about those from other countries, sometimes it is far simpler to find pirated CD, with prices order of magnitude lower than "licensed" ones. Musicians must give live shows to get living, and there are some bands that share their music via internet for free. And the last, record labels, "holders of intellectual property rights" may earn more money from distributing songs than musicians themselves.
Magnette
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 20, 2011
Trying to feed trolls again.
Such a fine is only meaningful if this guy has sold downloaded songs. But he has only shared these songs and for no profit. And about those from other countries, sometimes it is far simpler to find pirated CD, with prices order of magnitude lower than "licensed" ones. Musicians must give live shows to get living, and there are some bands that share their music via internet for free. And the last, record labels, "holders of intellectual property rights" may earn more money from distributing songs than musicians themselves.


Who are the trolls?

So what if he shared the songs for no profit, the point is that the people who had a right to earn from the potential sales have lost that potential because of his actions irrespective of whom receives how much percentage.

Pirate discs are as bad and are not usually geographically restricted. There is a large campaign ongoing in the UK to clamp down on the pirates and to prosecute as much as possible.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2011
I can record a track barely trying. It is that simple. I see CORPORATIONS polluting ground water and sickening people and only paying half that amount, so WTF. I think the properties of our plutocracy is a disgusting. We need to fight the polluters and maim the capitalistic pigs that sacrifice other people's health and well-being for profit. Disgusting.
Obviously your intellect produces little of any value. If it did you would want to get paid for it. Too bad the guy who coined the phrase 'capitalistic pig' didn't copyright it, he would now be earning a few dollars now that the rest of his brain is dead.

I hate thieves.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2011
Also according to my calculations these appeals lawyers owe this thief some $600,000.

I hate lawyers.
LivaN
5 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2011
Magnette
LivaN - "Check out the songs he's being charged with seeding and tell me you can't find at least ten other sources for each song?"

Because others are doing it does that make the digital theft of the music ok then?


If you read my comment again you'll see that, while others doing it doesn't make it right, it certainly means he didn't cause any loss of sales. Those who pirated from him would have simply selected another source.
LivaN
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 21, 2011
Magnette
Frajo, In it's simplist terms the principle of fairness means that for every disc/record/download sold the owner of the rights to that music whether they're the artist, the label, the producers or whomever are fully entitled to their share of the percentages.


The capitalists idea of fairness maybe, but the principle of fairness needs to take more things into account. Take for instance the son of the record label guy, or the daughter of the layer representing them. They can easily afford to purchase all the albums for those 31 songs; they can drive to the store in their fathers half a million dollar cars and purchase whatever they feel like. Jim however, whos mother is deceased and father is an alcoholic, has to struggle to pay for college, a car, and rent. Magnette, why dont you explain to Jim why it is fair that he not be allowed access to any copyrighted/patented ideas, knowledge, or entertainment due to his parentage?
Magnette
5 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2011
LivaN...So you're suggesting that copyright rules are wrong because they affect the rights of poor Jim and others like him?
If he can afford a computer or mobile phone to download the music onto then he can afford to pay for the music. If he can't afford the equipment then the laws won't affect him.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2011
whether they're the artist, the label, the producers or whomever are fully entitled to their share of the percentages. Illegal seeding of music cuts them out completely from earning from their work.
That statement is wrong and you know it. It's not "completely". And it's not "their work" - except for the artists.
Moreover, a system that cannot provide the artists with their due earnings without terror punishments for non-terrorists is overdue to be corrected.

Because others are doing it does that make the digital theft of the music ok then?
By improperly using the term "theft" you are revealing that you either are paid for/earning money on this job or (inclusive) that you are unfairly using the English language. I'm sorry, but you are not a discussion partner but a discussion object.

On topic is not the question of legality, but the question of fair punishment.
Magnette
not rated yet Sep 22, 2011
"Because others are doing it does that make the digital theft of the music ok then?
By improperly using the term "theft" you are revealing that you either are paid for/earning money on this job or (inclusive) that you are unfairly using the English language. I'm sorry, but you are not a discussion partner but a discussion object." - Frajo

I haven't revealed anything at all. How do you come to the conclusion that I'm paid for/earning on this job? If you have read any of my posts on other subjects you will realise that I'm an engineer and have nothing to do with the music industry. I'm sorry that your command of English doesn't include the fact that taking something without proper recompense amounts to theft then I guess it must be down to the difference between American English and English English. If you want to discuss punishment then it must, by default, include the legality that guides said punishment.
Now you've just made yourself the object instead of the partner.

LivaN
4 / 5 (1) Sep 23, 2011
Magnette
If he can afford a computer or mobile phone to download the music onto then he can afford to pay for the music.
A person could in many cases afford to purchase a second hand computer out of necessity, for college/ work reasons, while not having the disposable funds to purchase music.

Magnette
If he can't afford the equipment then the laws won't affect him.
So people who can't afford a computer will never use a computer, and therefore should not be considered when formulating laws that govern information rights on a computer?
It's a good thing Jim doesn't own a computer, but rather uses his college computer lab. Since he can't afford the equipment himself, pirating software is fine because the laws won't affect him.

How is his stealing from the producers/whoever, a product that he would never have purchased, more wrong than him being denied copyrighted/patented ideas, knowledge, or entertainment due to a system that is substantially biased?
Magnette
not rated yet Sep 23, 2011
"A person could in many cases afford to purchase a second hand computer out of necessity, for college/ work reasons, while not having the disposable funds to purchase music." - LivaN

If he can't afford to pay the going rate then he doesn't purchase it regardless of owning equipment or not. Since when did somebody elses work become free for others because they can't afford to buy it?

"So people who can't afford a computer will never use a computer, and therefore should not be considered when formulating laws that govern information rights on a computer?" - LivaN

Where did I suggest that?

"It's a good thing Jim doesn't own a computer, but rather uses his college computer lab. Since he can't afford the equipment himself, pirating software is fine because the laws won't affect him." - LivaN

It's irrelevant where or how it's pirated, pirating is illegal and he should be held responsible for his actions.

Continued....
gimpypoet
not rated yet Sep 24, 2011
the download is not the problem, the upload was. never share a file you are not sure about. you can record a song from the radio, use a device to digitally encode it and put it on your player, do not share it on a filesharing program. go to a pawnshop and buy the vinyl, 8-track,cassette or cd, encode it and it is yours. do not share it. download a somg from youtube, do not share it by uploading it. i keep all my broken albums, tapes, cds and cd jackets as proof i owned them. if i find a cd on the ground that i like, i will keep it and download it. the same for any media. you can back-up and even burn it, do not let your filesharing program share it without knowing the penality. if you have ever owned a media and have the broken media, it is still yours.if you threw it away, and you can't prove ownership, do not have it in you filesharing share folder. do not! keep all cd jackets that you can and buy the media for $3.00 at the flea market.
LuckyBrandon
not rated yet Sep 25, 2011
but on the same concept, people pay for downloads on sites that are technically pirated from, oh say RUSSIAN COPIES....they paid, so wouldn't/shouldn't be legal....not according to the laws....
mgb
not rated yet Sep 25, 2011
The problem is that the copyright protection for this industry is way out of whack. If I build a table (put my soul into it), should I get royalties every time the buyer serves a cup of tea to a friend? May not be the best analogy, but you know what I mean. Creativity goes into everything that we build. Not just music and movies. The copyright laws need, at least, revisiting to bring them back into line with patent-type protection. Stop making criminals of people who choose to enjoy the information online and come up with a better business model (although I think that is what's happening).
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Sep 25, 2011
Just an example of big business corrupting the justice system, nothing new to see here folks.
LivaN
not rated yet Sep 26, 2011
Magnette
If he can't afford to pay the going rate then he doesn't purchase it regardless of owning equipment or not.

Correct. There are situations where equipment may be afforded, but not the copyrighted information.

Magnette
Since when did somebody elses work become free for others because they can't afford to buy it?

This isn't the case, unless by work you are specifically referring to digital information, and by become free you mean free to copy rather than own. In this case it was at the moment the system became such that pirating was, not only possible, but extremely easy, reliable and somewhat socially acceptable.

Magnette
Where did I suggest that?

Magnette
LivaN...So you're suggesting that copyright rules are wrong because they affect the rights of poor Jim and others like him?
If he can't afford the equipment then the laws won't affect him.

Cont..
LivaN
not rated yet Sep 26, 2011
Magnette
It's irrelevant where or how it's pirated, pirating is illegal

Precisely, he is affected by the laws even if he cannot afford the equipment. In any case, I'm not arguing whether it's illegal, that's pretty obvious. I'm arguing that it is not fair.

Magnette
he should be held responsible for his actions

LivaN
explain to Jim why it is fair that he not be allowed access to any copyrighted/patented ideas, knowledge, or entertainment due to his parentage?