A Boston University graduate student has had his court order to pay $675,000 damages to four big recording labels cut by 90 percent to $67,500. Joel Tenenbaum downloaded 30 songs and shared them on a P2P network between 1999 and 2007.
The big labels said that the download and use of P2P networking services violated copyright laws, and went after big money from Joel. They won $675,000 initially, but on Friday, U.S. District Court judge Nancy Gertner said that the amount was "unconstitutionally excessive" and lowered the award to $67,500, which means that it's $2,250 per song.
Thanks, says Joel, but the number is still basically off his radar of ability to pay. "It's basically equally unpayable to me," he said to the Boston Globe.
“There is no question that this reduced award is still severe, even harsh. It not only adequately compensates the plaintiffs for the relatively minor harm that Tenenbaum caused them; it sends a strong message that those who exploit peer-to-peer networks to unlawfully download and distribute copyrighted works run the risk of incurring substantial damages awards," wrote Judge Nancy Gertner about the modified award.
The RIAA has said it will appeal the ruling, but no timeline or strategy has been announced yet. This case calls into question how to apply the Digital Theft Deterrence Act of 1999 and how big the fines for using P2P services for downloading music can be.