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RIAA's Tenenbaum Verdict Cut From $675k To $67.5k

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the one-order-of-magnitude-closer-to-sanity dept.

Music 253

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, the Court has reduced the jury's award from $675,000, or $22,500 per infringed work, to $67,500, or $2,250 per infringed work, on due process grounds, holding that the jury's award was unconstitutionally excessive. In a 64-page decision (PDF), District Judge Nancy Gertner ruled that the Gore, Campbell, and Williams line of cases was applicable to determining the constitutionality of statutory damages awards, that statutory damages must bear a reasonable relationship to the actual damages, and that the usual statutory damages award in even more egregious commercial cases is from 2 to 6 times the actual damages. However, after concluding that the actual damages in this case were ~ $1 per infringed work, she entered a judgment for 2,250 times that amount. Go figure." That $2,250 per infringed work figure should look familiar from Jammie Thomas-Rassett's reduced damages judgment — $54,000 for 24 songs.

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253 comments

Still.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855196)

Still getting screwed

What difference does it make? (4, Insightful)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855214)

Isn't that still way more then most people can reasonably pay and completely disproportionate to the actual damages caused? He'll probably still have to declare bankruptcy.

Re:What difference does it make? (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855262)

It's more than most people have liquid but it's certainly not more than most people can reasonably pay. After all, most adults have a house, a car, and if necissary wages for the next 10 years. It's not like they expect you to write out a check the day after the trial is over. Yes, it's still wildly disproportionate, but at least it I am mentally capable of imagining it is an amount the people who wrote the law might have expected; something that I can't say about the original award.

Re:What difference does it make? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855488)

>>>an amount the people who wrote the law might have expected

Not really. The lawmakers established a fine of $250,000 per song. They'd probably be disappointed to see it reduced to just over $2000

Re:What difference does it make? (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855552)

No, the lawmakers established a range of $350 - $250,000 per song, depending on the circumstances of the infringement. I refuse to believe that they intended for the top end of that spectrum to be applied to situations such as these. While this was clearly not the most innocent type of infringement (something like burning a mix CD would qualify in my mind (not that I agree that it should be against the law, only that according to the law that is infringement and if it must be punished should be punished with the smallest award legally applicable)). At the same time it is far from the most heinous infringement (something like a major bootlegging operation selling thousands of copies at a profit).

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855700)

A mix CD is *NOT* infringement. That's an obvious case of Fair Use.

Re:What difference does it make? (2, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856262)

A mix CD is *NOT* infringement. That's an obvious case of Fair Use.

Copyright law disagrees with you. "Fair use" would be a CD on which you record your own one hour blog about the evolution of rock music from 1960 to 2010 and add a few ten second samples to clarify the points that you are making. A mix CD containing _complete_ songs or large parts of songs is definitely not "Fair use".

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856502)

If you own all the original CDs or AACs that the mix cd was created from, that is fair use..... or at least it should be.

Re:What difference does it make? (5, Insightful)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855588)

... an amount the people who wrote the law might have expected

Not really. The lawmakers established a fine of $250,000 per song. They'd probably be disappointed to see it reduced to just over $2000

I doubt it. When the law was written, it was written to cover commercial infringement, as at that time there was no technology that would have allowed for the wide-spread non-commercial infringement that is commonplace today.

The law really needs to be rewritten to differentiate between the two, with reasonable (if any) penalties for P2P type infringement. However, given the current influence of the media corporations with government, maybe we should leave well enough alone...

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856052)

However, given the current influence of the media corporations with government, maybe we should leave well enough alone...

You're going to have to; their lobbies have a fair degree of control over every political party in every branch of government, so there is no way to vote against their agenda.

Re:What difference does it make? (5, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856056)

I doubt it. When the law was written, it was written to cover commercial infringement,

Yes, that's a very important point to remember. The laws were written to discourage commercial pirates. If they made and sold 10,000 illegal copies of a CD, they made 10,000x as much money as if they only sold one. The more copies they could sell, the more they would benefit. So a fine like $250,000 per song made sense to discourage them.

But on the same token, it makes absolutely no sense to apply that fine to personal copyright infringement. By definition, the personal infringer is only interested in one copy. S/he cannot benefit from making nor providing more than one copy (indeed, as many filesharing networks have found out, the incentive to leave the network as soon as they've gotten their one copy gives rise to "leechers"). So just fining them for the one illegal copy is disincentive enough. Figure $25 for a CD, treble damages for willful infringement, and a little extra for the copyright holder's and government's time and effort, and you're in the $100-$200 range per CD.

This gets into another aspect of this whole thing which is just wrong. The *AA are essentially double-dipping. When they bring a file-sharer to trial, they bemoan how the lone person made the song available to thousands of other people, and so the fine should reflect all those copies. But if that's their reasoning, then the moment they get a judgment for $54,000 against one person, that should indemnify all the people who got files from her from further prosecution. After all, by the *AA's own argument, the fine she's paying is for all those copies, not just hers. So the defendant(s) has been punished and fined, and the *AA recompensed for those thousands of copies and made whole. But no, they go right on filing lawsuits against all those other people.

Either haul one person to court and make them pay these huge fines, and indemnify the rest of the people from prosecution for that infringement. Or try each person in court for their single infringement. You cannot have it both ways and fine every single person for his/her infringement plus the infringement of every other filesharer, and do the same for every other filesharer. Much like if you file suit against a commercial pirate, the people who bought CDs from that pirate are not liable for infringement.

Re:What difference does it make? (5, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855788)

It's more than most people have liquid but it's certainly not more than most people can reasonably pay. After all, most adults have a house, a car, and if necissary wages for the next 10 years.

So, you are saying that because someone is capable of selling their house and car to pay $67,000 for sharing 24 songs, that it is a reasonable expectation?

It's not like they expect you to write out a check the day after the trial is over.

Are you sure about that? Most companies I have ever seen (ones far less evil than the RIAA) expect, on determination of a judgment amount, that you will do exactly that or they take other measures to collect said judgment - all while adding exorbitant interest and fees (legal, collection and otherwise) to the amount. As a matter of fact, such practices were part of the reason for the Homestead law in Florida (and similar ones elsewhere) because such "collection" activities often included going after such personal property as one's house and car.

Yes, it's still wildly disproportionate, but at least it I am mentally capable of imagining it is an amount the people who wrote the law might have expected; something that I can't say about the original award.

Well, I am sure that the people who lobbied for and/or sponsored those penalties as defined in the law (the RIAA and MPAA and their members) definitely imagined and hoped for such amounts - and obviously more (based on the original judgment amount) when they pushed for this. I suspect that those who wrote the law went in to it fully expecting such amounts as well, fully knowing what the **AA's expectations were on the matter. That has nothing to do with whether either judgment fits the "crime" though. So... I guess I concede that point to you. ;-)

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856362)

So, you are saying that because someone is capable of selling their house and car to pay $67,000 for sharing 24 songs, that it is a reasonable expectation?

You're abusing what the parent said, a person can "reasonably pay" that sum without making unreasonable assumptions like winning the lottery, that doesn't say anything about whether it's a reasonable penalty or not. If it was $675k then any normal person can just declare bankruptcy right away, they'd never manage to pay it back.

Re:What difference does it make? (2, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855818)

> it's certainly not more than most people can reasonably pay
Perhaps most people in your social circle could pay that, but not most people in America.

Median income is around $50K/year.

The average amount of "disposable income" that is saved lately varies between -2% and +2%.

Paying off $7K/year would require 14% of the median income. I suppose one can survive on that, if one cuts back on luxuries like clothes, meat, and gasoline. And pirates their music.

Re:What difference does it make? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32856408)

You seem to be missing the point that this is a penalty for being found guilty of copyright infringement. Suppose the penalty were 3 months of prison time, would you argue against that since it's too "inconvenient"?

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856438)

The usual rule of thumb is that you can manage 3x your income in debt, and I found that the average US private debt was $55k. Add $67k on top, and you're not cutting luxuries, you're bargain shopping for necessities and get clothes from the salvation army.

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855912)

Last time I saw the numbers I think the median net worth of a Swedish citizen was around $1000. This is because while they do have a car and a house they're both bought with borrowed money leaving them with very little ability to achieve liquidity and why wouldn't they expect you to write out a check the day after the trial is over?

Re:What difference does it make? (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855288)

Isn't that still way more then most people can reasonably pay and completely disproportionate to the actual damages caused? He'll probably still have to declare bankruptcy.

While completely disproportionate to actual damages, that is easily within a payable range (though not all at once).

It's less than a house, and there are people who can afford two of those. If they make him do monthly installments over 6 years he should be able to pull it off.

Mods - WTH (1, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855438)

Come on mods, there is absolutely nothing trollish about what he said here. It arguably states the facts of the situation better than the OP's comment which is currently at +5.

'-1 Troll' != 'I Disagree'

Re:What difference does it make? (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856148)

While completely disproportionate to actual damages, that is easily within a payable range (though not all at once).

Is this the new standard for corporate extortion? "It's completely disproportionate, but if he's willing to give up his life and future he can pay it".

It's bad enough that the system in the US (and most western countries) has become a simple matter of re-distributing wealth from the working class to the ownership class, but this is simply economic terrorism. Create a penalty that is so disproportionate that it frightens anyone who might consider not giving money to the corporation. Make it so that people are afraid to post their own original work to YouTube because the RIAA is likely to send a C&D letter "just in case". Send C&D letters when people use Creative Commons to make sure they learn who's boss. Make everyone pay and pay until they're willing to open their wallets, just to be left alone. Have the corporate media repeat the notion that anyone who believes in the public domain, anyone who might consider alternatives to old-fashioned copyrights is labeled a "pirate" or "anti-copyright radical".

Make public libraries emblematic of "big government" and "socialism" so that municipalities who withdraw funding for those libraries seem patriotic. Equate regulation of business with tyranny.

The new corporatism is much, much more dangerous to our society than terrorism.

Re:What difference does it make? (1, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855470)

>>>completely disproportionate to the actual damages caused

It appears the judge determined actual damages to be $2250 / 6 == $375 per song (minimum). Maybe she's taking into account prosecution costs (lawyers, security specialists to track the downloader, programmers, et cetera)
.

Re:What difference does it make? (2, Insightful)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855656)

It's a 750 dollar minimum with, as I recall, a few criteria that can allow for triple damages, such as willfull infringement.

So really, that is, by law, the miminum he could have been hit for.

Ultimately, if the RIAA decides to go back on the "sue-em-all" bandwagon, they'll just start raising the number of songs. Instead of going after someone for 24 songs, they'll instead go after them for 100 songs.

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856028)

What? It's $2,250 per song. Didn't you even read the SUMMARY, for crying out loud? Total reward was $67,500. That is still insane. Making someone pay $67k (the price of a really crappy house basically) is absurd. Many people have already mentioned that this law was intended to apply to COMMERCIAL copyright infringement. These people made no money at all. The damages sustained are VERY much arguable. The amount they ended up with is ridiculous and this person will probably STILL have to claim bankruptcy. These people are being abused, plain and simple. I cannot state clearly enough what a gross abuse of the legal system this is. They're printing money. That's not what these laws are for.

He won't be declaring bankrupcy (3, Informative)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855538)

you can't any more, not for something like this. They'll garnish his wages.

Re:He won't be declaring bankrupcy (1, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855616)

Assuming he can find a job:

"Hello. I'm a lawyer, studied for 6 years inc ollege plus law school, and oh yeah I have a court record that forces me to pay $70,000."

"Ummmm.... that's... interesting. Well we'll go through the rest of this daylong interview since you're here, but to be honest I've already wrote Reject on your resume."

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855560)

Maybe they are taking their rates from the toner industry. You pay >100x more for toner than you do for the same amount of beer.

[disclaimer: I am aware of microbreweries, TVM] (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855654)

You pay >100x more for toner than you do for the same amount of beer.

If you live in the US, the toner not only contains 100x more alcohol but tastes 100x better.

Re:What difference does it make? (2, Informative)

BonquiquiShiquavius (1598579) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855564)

Read the decision. The judge agrees with you. She finds the original award unconstitutionally excessive, and thus has grounds to reduce it; however, she still must still respect the findings of the jury, who were "going for broke" in her words. In this case, determining the size of the award fell to the jury, not the court. There's only so much she could do.

Actually there's probably only so much the jury could do as well, given that Tenenbaum not only admitted to years of copyright infringement, but also admitted to lying about it to authorities when caught. No jury likes a weasel.

Re:What difference does it make? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855614)

You think most people will need to declare bankruptcy because they have to pay 67K? You must be a student...or financially inept. If you were to make payments on this over 30 yrs it might end up being something like $400/month.

As a software engineer with a middling salary...I could pay this. It'd be a huge pain, but I could do it. So I imagine others could could do the same.

Now...I agree that this is an absurd amount. $100 a song would be more reasonable.

Bankruptcy does NOT clear you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855632)

He'll probably still have to declare bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy does not clear you of obligation to pay civil court judgments against you. You continue to owe those forever until paid in full.

Bankruptcy can only clear you of obligation to pay outstanding debt in the case of credit default.

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856098)

Upon hearing the judgement, I thought the same. It seems the court is just looking to lynch the accused's financial life. I can't help but feel that's excessive.

I'm pretty sure judgements are binding beyond bankruptcy. There's simply no getting away from that debt (presumably for good reason).

Re:What difference does it make? (0)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856140)

Isn't that still way more then most people can reasonably pay and completely disproportionate to the actual damages caused? He'll probably still have to declare bankruptcy.

Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time.

See that FBI/INTERPOL message in the front of every video or DVD? When you copy it, you're making a risk assessment that if you get caught they're not going to put the full weight of the statutory limit against you --- but that's a risk.

If you really want change, push for a change of the law and sentencing guidelines. $2250/song is still high, but it's within the realm of reason. Hell... in California you get fined $1000 for littering on the freeway; and I'm sure some judge has tried to make that "per item" instead of "per distinct offense".

So (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855284)

We have tort reform which limits doctors liability when they screw up someones life, we have oil company liability limited to $75M, but if you trade some bits you are responsible for a months takehome pay for an average US family, sounds about right.

Re:So (-1, Offtopic)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855578)

How did that oil company liability limit work out for BP? Obama has shown he is the dictator here and he will do whatever he wants. If he wants $20 billion when then limit of liability is $75 Million then he will damn well get it. Why? Because he said so. When the authority of a ruler comes from him being the ruler then Democracy has failed. His or Her authority should come from the backing and support of the people of the United States of America.

Re:So (0, Offtopic)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855640)

How many Americans back and support milking BP for everything they have? 90%?

Re:So (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855740)

You can't have everything. They would just declare bankruptcy. Also if Americans want everything then that just proves how unethical our culture has become. At most they should want the amount equal to their real liability. Even better would be to not break the law and live up to the liability cap set in place. Full Discolsure: I sold my stocks in oil companies over a year ago and hold none now.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855666)

1. Obama has done nothing, there is little he can do other than create sound-bites.

2. BP aren't paying up, aren't cleaning up, aren't stopping the flow because they still want that hole in the ground to produce oil.

3. BP have started a campaign of hiring all major legal firms around the Gulf. Not that they need them, but to stop lawsuits coming at them because the legal firms cannot take on clients suing BP due to the conflict of interests. Guess who's behind it? Good 'ol Rummy.

3. The oil has reached Texas and FL. FL lives for tourism, guess what. The beaches are suffering, unemployment rockets, we all pay, except BP. Texans can scoop it up,after all, they luuurve oil.

4. USA isn't a democracy, never has been, never will be. It's the most powerful corporation controlled state on the planet.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855872)

Months? Don't you mean Years take home pay?

I don't know many people who make $67.5K per month. Perhaps maybe the lawyer....

Not sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855304)

I dunno, it's still fucking ridiculous. Are you sure that was a real judge?

go figure? (4, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855320)

Go figure.

Or read the opinion, which will obviate the need for figuring. She explains her justification for the damages figure (3 times the statutory minimum) quite thoroughly. She also points out that, like Thomas in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case, the defendant willfully violated the law then lied under oath to try to escape it, which seems to inform her decision that some sort of serious punishment is justified.

Re:go figure? (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855420)

I would disagree. Perjury, like contempt of court, is a criminal matter entirely separate from the primary (or whatever the sharkspeak word is) case.

For example, if I'm pulled in front of the beak for parking on a double yellow line the worst I can get is a fine and penalty points. However if, during the trial, I lie under oath or call the judge a big fat nonce (even if he is) then I could in theory become a permanent guest of Her Germanic Majesty.

Re:go figure? (3, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855494)

I would disagree. Perjury, like contempt of court, is a criminal matter entirely separate from the primary (or whatever the sharkspeak word is) case.,/i>

That's why I said informed, not based. While you are correct that perjury is generally a criminal matter separate from the case in chief, it is not necessarily completely disconnected. For example, perjury can be grounds for dismissing an action. Here, she seemed to interpret his failure to tell the truth under oath (I'm not saying he actually did, just her conclusion was that he did) goes to the willfulness of his misconduct, and willfulness is definitely a factor in damages here.

Re:go figure? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855500)

But the judge can take things like remorse, admittance of guilt, hiding/destroying evidence, etc into account when sentencing. Sounds to me like that is exactly what she did here.

Re:go figure? (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856360)

I would disagree. Perjury, like contempt of court, is a criminal matter entirely separate from the primary (or whatever the sharkspeak word is) case.

Perhaps you should read the opinion as the grandparent post suggests. The judge needed to determine if the awarded amount was unconstitutionally high. This involved determining what amount would be constitutional. In determining that, the judge had to consider how reprehensible the actions of Tenenbaum was. His lying under oath was one of the things that weighed against him in determining the reprehensibility of his actions. It's very clearly laid out in the opinion.

Re:go figure? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856368)

It's a separate charge, in that the judge can have the defendant charged with perjury and made to pay for that even if he wins the original case.

But perjury is moot here. The judge isn't charging anyone with perjury. She is merely saying that lying about the crime makes the punishment worse when there is discretion about the punishment. You get slack when you're (a) naive about your crime and (b) remorseful about it, not when you're (c) fully aware you're breaking the law and (d) willing to waste the court's time and risk further charges by lying about what you did.

Judges hate adding paperwork to cases, so putting them in that position by raising the possibility of having to do you for perjury or contempt really pisses them off, guaranteeing you'll get hammered for the original offense.

Re:go figure? (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855490)

Come on, 2250 times the actual damages for copying music. Here the court (and the law I might add) is out of balance. The law should treat each case on merits and what damages there actually were, having the punishment fit the crime. Our system of justice is not supose to treat people as examples, without regard to what the effect of the judgement is going to be on the individual, the punishment to the individual needs to fit the crime, Here it does not. Corporate profits have trumped our laws and our politics. We need a change.

Re:go figure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855642)

I do agree that 2250 per song is a bit excessive, but what do you mean by "should treat each case ..d and what damages there actually were". If the penalty for file-sharing a $1 song was only $1, there is no incentive for the immoral to *not* do it. There is, after all, no monetary risk involved. What would you suggest as reasonable damages?

Re:go figure? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856220)

Triple damages ($3 per song) plus legal fees. I'm sure the legal fees alone are enough to make anyone think twice.

Re:go figure? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855704)

2250 times what exactly? The price of an mp3 or the value of unlimited international distribution rights?

Re:go figure? (4, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855766)

2250 times what exactly? The price of an mp3 or the value of unlimited international distribution rights?

There was no evidence of an actual "distribution" with in the meaning of the Copyright Act, let alone of him acting as a dispenser of "unlimited international distribution rights".

Re:go figure? (3, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855746)

Come on, 2250 times the actual damages for copying music. Here the court (and the law I might add) is out of balance. The law should treat each case on merits and what damages there actually were, having the punishment fit the crime. Our system of justice is not supose to treat people as examples, without regard to what the effect of the judgement is going to be on the individual, the punishment to the individual needs to fit the crime, Here it does not. Corporate profits have trumped our laws and our politics. We need a change.

I don't think this result was consistent with existing law. The judge conceded that under existing law a copyright infringement statutory damages claim should not exceed 2 to 6 times the actual damages. Had she applied that principle to her overly generous appraisal of the actual damages as being $1 per infringed work, and had she decided to "throw the book" at Mr. Tenenbaum and award 6 times the actual damages, the total judgment would be $180.

Re:go figure? (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856272)

Where was this in the opinion? I see where she says "Nevertheless, the awards in such cases are generally no more than "two to six times the license fees defendants 'saved' by not obeying the Copyright Act"--a ratio of statutory to actual damages far lower than the ratio present in this case" (pages 40-41) where she'd discussing the disparity between public performance cases and this one, but I do not see where she concludes as a matter of law the statute only permits that range for the instant case, just that the disparity suggests egregiousness.

Re:go figure? (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856460)

The judge is not making a judgement on the appropriate amount, the judge is making a judgement on what is permissible under the constitution. That's completely different, in that the constitution only outlaws amounts that are... I don't remember the wording. Something to the effect of "completely insane". So the judge determined that 2250$ is just a tiny bit short of "completely insane", being merely "pretty fucking insane" and hence constitutional. That sounds about right to me, actually. The judge did not have the option of reducing the amount to a level that she thought was appropriate - it's all in the opinion.

Re:go figure? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855548)

>>>the defendant willfully violated the law then lied under oath to try to escape it

When did this happen? If the actual damages are $1 or $2 per song, and the statutory minimum is $750, then I would have assigned that. If 4-6 times is the norm in civil cases, then paying 325-700 times the actual damages would already be punishment enough for perjury
.

Re:go figure? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855768)

Or read the opinion, which will obviate the need for figuring. She explains her justification for the damages figure (3 times the statutory minimum) quite thoroughly

When statutory damages are 750 times actual damages, the statutory damages are clearly unconstitutional. There's no explaining that.

If the defendant provably lied under oath, prosecute them for perjury. Tacking damages onto another judgment is wrong.

Re:go figure? (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855960)

When statutory damages are 750 times actual damages, the statutory damages are clearly unconstitutional. There's no explaining that.

No there is no explaining it. The decision never makes a rational transition to its conclusion.

1.Law: statutory damages should be 2 to 6 times actual damage
2.Actual damage found to be $1
3. ??????????
4. $2,250 profits for RIAA.

I for one welcome the administration of justice by our corporatist overlords.

Re:go figure? (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856488)

The judge does not have authority to set the amount - the jury did that. The judge has only the authority to restrict the amount to the maximum that the constitution will stand for in any way. Obviously that can be much more than an amount that might be reasonable. She points out several times that the amount is more than she might have awarded if she had the authority to dictate the amount.

Re:go figure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855886)

politicians, judges and elected officials willfully lie

all day

every day

punishment for them should be.

the ultimate punishment.

Punitive Damages (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855324)

However, after concluding that the actual damages in this case were ~ $1 per infringed work, she entered a judgment for 2,250 times that amount. Go figure.

Maybe there accountants messed up (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855332)

After reading the article about Hollywood Accounting I wonder if the music industry does the same thing. You can say pirated music is the reason you're losing money but instead your cooking the books so a few people can make a lot of money off the profits. At the same time the RIAA should realize people will not stop pirating music and this isn't scaring people from stopping either and how much is it costing the RIAA for these trials I'm guessing it's a lot more than settlement, overall it seems like a net loss. Besides what was the actual damage done, I've never read a report saying how much money is actually lost by pirating one song. In the end the recording industry should realize that if they don't adapt they will die off.

Re:Maybe there accountants messed up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855440)

Are their any other's whom finds these uses of ore engrish language more better amusing?

Re:Maybe there accountants messed up (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855460)

They do. They routinely screw aspiring artists as much as possible on their first record contract or two. It is the reason you frequently notice successful artists spinning of their own production company, having been burned, they know it is the only way that they get to keep a little of the money they earn instead of handing it over to someone else.

I think this was intentionally stupid (1)

craze ivan (1092703) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855384)

I'm not a lawyer, but I think this was just a way to give the plaintive grounds for appeal to further get the judgment reduced. The judge's ruling not matching the awarded damages sounds like grounds for appeal.

Re:I think this was intentionally stupid (2, Interesting)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856496)

Read the opinion. The amount is stupid because the jury was stupid and there is only so much the judge can do about it.

ridiculous (1)

freezway (1649969) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855396)

I dont see HOW lawyers can make up $2k for downloading a $1 song.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855428)

That's why you're not a lawyer.

Re:ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855434)

Its called there fee.

Re:ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855530)

As opposed to a here fee?

Re:ridiculous (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856380)

Read the opinion. It's about punishing Tenenbaum and giving other people an incentive to refrain from file sharing. It's not just about compensating the plaintiffs for their losses. He also gets the amount multiplied by 3 because he knew that he was acting illegally and did it anyway.

2250/song!? (1)

paxcoder (1222556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855424)

You mean the same amount? How is that possible? If I were just a tad more paranoid, I'd say the "industry" had influenced the decision by illegal means and left us a visible warning telling us they can and do so.
Or perhaps there's another explanation? Did anyone RTfA?

Re:2250/song!? (-1, Redundant)

godrik (1287354) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855528)

Did anyone RTFA ?

RTFA ?

Reading the article linked ?
What a weird idea !
Are you new here ?

Re:2250/song!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855554)

Yes, did you?

Re:2250/song!? (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856394)

The minimum according to the law is 750$. There is apparently precedent that if the infringement is "willful", then the damages are multiplied by 3 and 3*750$=2250$.

Infinite Resources (5, Insightful)

DIplomatic (1759914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855504)

The real problem here is that computer data (here referring to song files) is the only truly infinite resource that has ever existed on the planet. A digital copy of a CD could be copied an infinite number of times without any loss of quality. How do you regulate that? It would be like if you had a device that cloned Ferraris and with the push of a button you created a dozen perfect Ferraris out of thin air for you and all of your friends. The guy who owns a Ferrari dealership is going to be pissed, but you didn't do anything to him. You didn't take anything from him. You can't erase file-sharing from the planet. The technology exists, so there must now be a new model of business and new rules by which to regulate it.

$67,500 ??? (1)

Dumnezeu (1673634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855520)

That's still too much! How the fuck can they justify those costs? That's five thousand times more than what the songs are actually worth. Why are they getting paid more than they can prove? They can't possibly prove that Tenenbaum spread each song to five thousand people that never paid for it! Remember, $2,25k is the cost of each song he shared, so it does not include legal fees.

But the songs.. (2, Informative)

matthiasvegh (1800634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855536)

Has anyone here actually looked at the songlist? $2250 for *these*?
01 - Incubus - New Skin
02 - Green Day - Minority
03 - Outkast - Wheelz of Steel
04 - Incubus - Pardon Me
05 - Nirvana - Come As You Are
06 - Green Day - When I Come Around
07 - Green Day - Nice Guys Finish Last
08 - Nirvana - Heart Shaped Box
09 - Nine Inch Nails - The Perfect Drug
10 - Blink 182 - Adam's Song
11 - Limp Bizkit - Rearranged
12 - Limp Bizkit - Leech
13 - Linkin Park - Crawling Hybrid
14 - Deftones - Be Quiet And Drive
15 - The Fugees - Killing Me Softly
16 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
17 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way
18 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - My Friends
19 - Beck - Loser
20 - Eminem - My Name Is
21 - Eminem - Drug Ballad
22 - Eminem - Cleaning Out My Closet
23 - Beastie Boys - (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)
24 - The Ramones - The KKK Took My Baby Away
25 - Monster Magnet - Look To Your Orb For The Warning
26 - Aerosmith - Pink
27 - OutKast - Rosa Parks
28 - Rage Against The Machine - Guerrilla Radio
29 - Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
30 - Aerosmith - Water Song/Janie's Got A Gun

There is maybe like 4-5 songs actually worth something; the rest will just fade in time. Tenenbaums bill of $67.5K on the other hand, probably won't..

Dont pirate music, simple as that. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855574)

Why is everyone bitching that the guy got in trouble for downloading free music. I was taught "don't do the crime if you cant do the time." These guys broke the law and committed a felony. They are lucky they are not going to prison. I would gladly pay $60k and keep my ass out of the prison shower room.

Re:Dont pirate music, simple as that. (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855678)

Why is everyone bitching that the guy got in trouble for downloading free music. I was taught "don't do the crime if you cant do the time." These guys broke the law and committed a felony. They are lucky they are not going to prison. I would gladly pay $60k and keep my ass out of the prison shower room.

I think the complaint is the disproportionate punishment for the crime. He apparently downloaded 30 songs, which is about 3 CDs worth... if he'd walked into a CD store and stolen three CDs with no previous criminal record, do you really think he'd be fined $67,000 or sent to jail?

Re:Dont pirate music, simple as that. (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856222)

Why is everyone bitching that the guy got in trouble for downloading free music. I was taught "don't do the crime if you cant do the time." These guys broke the law and committed a felony. They are lucky they are not going to prison. I would gladly pay $60k and keep my ass out of the prison shower room.

I think the complaint is the disproportionate punishment for the crime. He apparently downloaded 30 songs, which is about 3 CDs worth... if he'd walked into a CD store and stolen three CDs with no previous criminal record, do you really think he'd be fined $67,000 or sent to jail?

To idiot #1, its a civil infraction, not a felony, as this was not commercial infringement. Prison was never in the house, never mind on the table.

To idiot #2, stealing is very different from copyright infringement. Stealing is benefiting oneself to the detriment of the originating owner, copyright infringement is distribution without permission. Meanwhile, if he refuses to pay, he will have personal property (excepting certain legally protected property) sold at auction and if it isn't paid off, future wages garnished. Prison will not be an issue until a crime is committed, guilt found in a court of law, and legally mandated.

There are always presents under the Christmas tree (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855596)

O Tenenbaum, o Tenenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat schon zur Winterzeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tenenbaum, o Tenenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

Ob (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855608)

O Tenenbaum, o Tenenbaum,
Reduce the dam-a-ges we pay!

O Tenenbaum, o Tenebaum,
Reduce them further ev'ry day!

As exponential they decayrz,
We download emmpeethrees and wayrz.[1]

Though lawyers bill and AA's whine -
Go shove it where the sun don't shine!

[1] yeah, this is bad, though Rush got away with worse.

If you don't like it, you can substitute:

Reduce our liabilatee
- though it's not really libertee [2]

[2] And if you don't like that, you can fuck off.

When UMG is sued limit is 2x; when suing 2250x (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855650)

When UMG was sued for copyright infringement, the punitive damages were reduced from 10x actual damages to 2x actual damages.

But when it is suing some kid for copyright infringement, it's allowed to collect 2250x actual damages.*

Doesn't sound like equal justice to me.

* Even Judge Gertner's $1 actual damages figure is wildly overstated. 70 cents lost revenue minus 35 cents saved expenses = lost profit of 35 cents, IF you wanted to assume that every unuathorized download represents a lost sale, which it certainly does not. Most likely the real actual damages is 5 or 10 cents on an mp3 download.

Re:When UMG is sued limit is 2x; when suing 2250x (1)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856292)

Even Judge Gertner's $1 actual damages figure is wildly overstated. 70 cents lost revenue minus 35 cents saved expenses = lost profit of 35 cents, IF you wanted to assume that every unuathorized download represents a lost sale, which it certainly does not. Most likely the real actual damages is 5 or 10 cents on an mp3 download.

You could make an argument that this could actually be several times higher, given the uploading done by many peer-to-peer applications. If you even upload a small bit to another person, they can then upload it to some more -- averaging this out over the entire lifespan of a torrent could enable a few more people to download it. Meaning, I dunno, maybe $5 tops per song, unless you seeded to a real high ratio.

Amateur Lawyers (-1, Flamebait)

fm6 (162816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855796)

However, after concluding that the actual damages in this case were ~ $1 per infringed work, she entered a judgment for 2,250 times that amount. Go figure.

If you can't figure out the judge's logic, maybe you should ask for your law school tuition back. What, you never went to law school? Funny how law is the one profession everybody thinks they know, even without training. Remind me not to ask your for medical advice either. And no, you can't design my house.

The decision seems to say that $2,250 is 3 times the "statutory minimum" of $750. And no, I don't know what statute she refers to — IANAL either.

Re:Amateur Lawyers (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855842)

The decision seems to say that $2,250 is 3 times the "statutory minimum" of $750.

If 3 times the statutory minimum is 2 thousand times the actual damages, then the statute is clearly unconstitutional. What logic could justify that?

Re:Amateur Lawyers (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32855920)

If 3 times the statutory minimum is 2 thousand times the actual damages, then the statute is clearly unconstitutional. What logic could justify that?

None.

Re:Amateur Lawyers (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856440)

the statute is clearly unconstitutional

You missed the whole point of the post you're replying to, didn't you?

Re:Amateur Lawyers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855990)

You quoted from the summary. The summary was written by NewYorkCountryLawyer, who is (if I remember correctly) an actual lawyer.

Re:Amateur Lawyers (5, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856208)

You quoted from the summary. The summary was written by NewYorkCountryLawyer, who is (if I remember correctly) an actual lawyer.

Unfortunately, you are right about that. I probably should have been a computer programmer, but I was a little intimidated by those tall machines with whirring wheels and punch cards, which they had in those days.

Re:Amateur Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32855996)

However, after concluding that the actual damages in this case were ~ $1 per infringed work, she entered a judgment for 2,250 times that amount. Go figure.

If you can't figure out the judge's logic, maybe you should ask for your law school tuition back. What, you never went to law school? Funny how law is the one profession everybody thinks they know, even without training. Remind me not to ask your for medical advice either. And no, you can't design my house.

The decision seems to say that $2,250 is 3 times the "statutory minimum" of $750. And no, I don't know what statute she refers to — IANAL either.

The person you're quoting and then calling untrained IS an actual lawyer and did go to law school. Nice job on pretending you know more than he does about law though. Hypocrite much?

Re:Amateur Lawyers (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856044)

Law isn't the only profession/discipline everybody things they know (or - worse - 'should' know).

I constantly hear gruff from people who think economists are all liars and don't know what they're talking about. I'd bet every profession and discipline has to suffer this problem.

Re:Amateur Lawyers (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856406)

Thinking that a whole profession is BS (not sure I disagree about the economists!) is not quite the same thing. I'm not talking about people who think the law is BS (plenty of those) I'm talking about people who believe in the law, but suffer from the illusion that their casual reading puts them on a par with somebody who's spent years studying the subject.

Hmmm. (1)

bluenawab (595006) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856022)

It is funny to compare the financial damage in this case with the restitution costs paid out by the oil companies - their negligence harmed thousands of people for several years, blighted an entire eco-system and the court awarded 500 million after 20 years. In this case, the "damage" due to an everyday person sharing songs unknowingly, is $2250... Thats some justice!

Penalty less than iTunes? (2, Interesting)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#32856046)

I live outside of the US. Lets say, as in the summary, I was fined US$1 per infringed work then:

Currently, I pay NZ$1.50 per iTunes song.

At its worst exchange rate a couple years back it was NZ$2.12 per song(I didnt purchase many at that time).

If I had taken these songs instead, extradited to the US, fined, I would have to pay, lets see....US$340. Potentially less than the legitimate purchase price.

PS: I take no moral stand, I work, have limited time outside work hours, and take the shortest path for various things even if it means paying.

I don't get it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32856462)

So the discussion is about how difficult it is to pay, when you are caught, for something that you stole. I do not support $20 for a CD but when I don't have an extra twenty, I don't FUCKING buy a CD. Why is it difficult to understand that as ridiculous and seemingly unfair the punishment could be, it is what it is. Did he know it? Yes. Did he take a chance? Yes. Time to wake up buddy. No one is to blame. Ugh.

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