Saturday 1 August 2009

Tenenbaum guilty and faces $675,000 damages, appeal and bankrupcy

A federal jury in Boston yesterday ordered Joel Tenenbaum, the Boston University postgraduate student who admitted illegally downloading and sharing music online, to pay $675,000 in damages to four record labels. The sum represents US $22,500 per track. Tenenbaum admitted in court that he had downloaded and distributed 30 songs and the only issue for the jury to decide was the quantum of damages to award the record labels. Under US federal law the recording companies were entitled to anything between $750 to $30,000 for each infringement and the law allows as much as $150,000 per track if the jury finds the infringements were wilful. On the witness stand Tenenbaum admitted downloading more than 800 songs from 1999 to 2007 on his home computer and his mother (a lawyer specialising in family law) made it clear in her evidence that she had warned him about his downloading. The Jury took just three hours to find Tenenbaum guilty of wilful infringement.
Tenenbaum seemed to take some comfort in the fact that the maximum jurors could have awarded in this case was $4.5 million saying “I'm disappointed, but I'm thankful it wasn't millions” adding "to me it sends a message of 'We considered your side with some legitimacy". The postgraduate physics student now says he will appeal and dependent on that appeal probably apply for bankruptcy. Tenenbaum was originally offered a settlement at approximately US $3,000 by the Recording Industry Association of America - which he countered by offering $500 saying he couldn’t afford to pay more - and then after some further negotiations Tenenbaum says he refused a settlement at $10,500 which he says was demanded by the RIAA - in hindsight a substantially cheaper option. But then hindsight is marvellous thing ...

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