RIAA Wins Appeal, Music Downloader Owes $675,000

Andy Chalk

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RIAA Wins Appeal, Music Downloader Owes $675,000


An appeals court has ruled that Joel Tenebaum, the Boston University student who was busted in 2009 for illegally downloading music, owes the RIAA $675,000 after all.

2009 was a bad year for Joel Tenenbaum. For the crime of sharing 30 songs online, he was slapped with a fine of $675,000, representing the maximum penalty of $22,500 per song. Things got marginally better for him in 2010 when U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner declared the penalty "unconstitutionally excessive" and lowered it to $67,500 [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/102010-Judge-Declares-File-Sharing-Fine-Unconstitutional], still a hell of a pile of money but not necessarily enough to ruin Tenenbaum's life forever. But that wasn't good enough for the Recording Industry Association of America, which said it would contest the ruling.

So it did, and on Friday the RIAA won a victory of sorts as the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Gertner jumped the gun by moving directly to the constitutional question. She "should first have considered the non-constitutional issue of remittitur, which may have obviated any constitutional due process issue and attendant issues," according to the ruling. "Had the court ordered remittitur of a particular amount, Sony would have then had a choice. It could have accepted the reduced award. Or, it could have rejected the remittitur, in which case a new trial would have ensued."

In other words, according to my Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remittitur] crash course in legal matters, the judge should only have gone to the question of constitutionality if remittitur didn't do the job. It's not a smashing victory for the RIAA, as the appeals court's comment "that this case raises concerns about the application of the Copyright Act which Congress may wish to examine" suggests that it's not a big fan of such punitive judgments, but for now the initial ruling is back in place, leaving Tenenbaum on the hook for $675,000.

Source: Ars Technica [http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/09/joel-tenenbaum-owes-the-riaa-675000again.ars]


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GeneralFungi

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The RIAA isn't making themselves look very good with this case. It's true that Joel broke the law, but sending him into debt for the rest of his life isn't the way to go about earning a reputation.

But money talks, I guess..
 

Roserari

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I'd be impressed if that actually solved anything. They're never going to see the full amount of that money and he probably hasn't learned that illegal downloading is bad, m'kay. Well, bad is not the right word ... illegal is better. Kind of like how weed is illegal.
 

KeyMaster45

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I don't see the purpose of this, so the RIAA crushes the life of one guy. Grats I guess? They do know there's not a snowball's chance in hell of them ever seeing all that money right? I mean ffs sake, I'm all for protecting copyrights and all that stuff but ruining someone's life over it? Who the hell gets that money anyway? It's sure not going to the artists who's songs the guy downloaded, that much I know.
 

Fusioncode9

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KeyMaster45 said:
I don't see the purpose of this, so the RIAA crushes the life of one guy. Grats I guess? They do know there's not a snowball's chance in hell of them ever seeing all that money right? I mean ffs sake, I'm all for protecting copyrights and all that stuff but ruining someone's life over it? Who the hell gets that money anyway? It's sure not going to the artists who's songs the guy downloaded, that much I know.
They're making an example out of him. It sucks but they think that this will stop people from downloading music illegally.
 

JoJo

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And shit like this is really going to stop people pirating music right? All this does for me is make me hate the RIAA, this plus suing dead people, children and people without a computer is only driving me away from my normal opposition to piracy. I'll certainly never pirate games as I respect the industry and publishers but for music I may have no choice but to change my opinion. Vote with your wallet people, they can't sue everyone.
 

Fiz_The_Toaster

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Yeah, sending him into debt for the rest of his life and probably not going to see all of that money any time soon is such a win, way to make yourselves look good there RIAA.

The RIAA does serve a purpose and does do some good, but doing crap like this isn't winning them any favors. That amount of money is a bit ridiculous, and I wonder to which company that money is going to since the RIAA represents several of them.

Basically what I got from all this is don't download music illegally or they will break you.
 

KeyMaster45

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Fiz_The_Toaster said:
Basically what I got from all this is don't download music illegally or they will break you.
Maybe they should make that their slogan when it comes to net piracy.


After all, implying that Bane will show up at your house and beat the shit out of you (metaphorically speaking) sends a powerful message.
 

Beryl77

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Great! justice has been served. Destroy one mans life to make an example, which will obviously reduce or even stop illegal music downloads.
 

Fiz_The_Toaster

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KeyMaster45 said:
Fiz_The_Toaster said:
Basically what I got from all this is don't download music illegally or they will break you.
Maybe they should make that their slogan when it comes to net piracy.


After all, implying that Bane will show up at your house and beat the shit out of you (metaphorically speaking) sends a powerful message.
That probably would fit, given their recent activities and how much money they go for. All they need is someone like Bane with a Russian accent, have him say that at their home, and it probably would stop a lot of people from illegally downloading.
 

dickywebster

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Well this seems like a little bit of an overkill...
I actually wouldnt be surprised if the fine is so high to "recoup losses made from the widespread pirating of music" (no thats not a quote just a highlighted section), but they do seem to be trying to squeeze pirates for all they can with this kidna excuse.
 

adamtm

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Fusioncode9 said:
KeyMaster45 said:
I don't see the purpose of this, so the RIAA crushes the life of one guy. Grats I guess? They do know there's not a snowball's chance in hell of them ever seeing all that money right? I mean ffs sake, I'm all for protecting copyrights and all that stuff but ruining someone's life over it? Who the hell gets that money anyway? It's sure not going to the artists who's songs the guy downloaded, that much I know.
They're making an example out of him. It sucks but they think that this will stop people from downloading music illegally.
No thats not what they think.

Its what they want you to think.

They are influencing public opinion with this.
 

BehattedWanderer

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Oooooh, I'm so terrified. What are they going to do, sue us all? So now, anyone who shares music/movies/videos/games/porn/books/baking recipes will have to be sued into oblivion. And soon enough, no one will be able to afford the ridiculous settlements, which means too few people will be able to fund the media empires, and soon they all crash. Good job!

Or, in less hyperbolic statements, perhaps these ridiculous lawsuits break down. Few people can cough up 675k, and even fewer of them will be college students or dropouts. That's not a feasible deterrent, as there is almost no way of paying it off. $22,500 per song? How much more ludicrous and arbitrary can you get?
 

Blind Sight

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And in other news, $675,000 dollars worth of music has just been downloaded worldwide in the past ten minutes...
 

Robert Ewing

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I can pretty much guarantee that 90%+ of the internet has downloaded something they shouldn't. They can't sue the entire human race.

But really RIAA isn't helping anything... There's bound to be a massive upheaval of human rights stuff to combat this. Is it really worth sending someone into a lifetime of debt and a criminal record, basically ruining his entire life for doing something everyone else does anyway?

Fuck off RIAA.
 

adamtm

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Dude downloads music over torrent:

30 songs = $675,000

Dude shoplifts 3 albums with songs from store:

30 songs = $100 fine + worth of the CDs

"Justice" my ass
 

JoJo

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Deadman Walkin said:
JoJoDeathunter said:
Vote with your wallet people, they can't sue everyone.
Trust me, they can and they will. As the guy said above, money talks.
Unlikely, I can think of a grand total of 1 person under the age of 25 who I've ever met who's never downloaded anything illegally. They can't sue millions of people, and it's not hard to hide your IP either if you have even the slightest knowledge of networks.

This isn't to say I necessarily support piracy, I'm just against ridiculous suits.
 

Ewyx

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dickywebster said:
Well this seems like a little bit of an overkill...
I actually wouldnt be surprised if the fine is so high to "recoup losses made from the widespread pirating of music" (no thats not a quote just a highlighted section), but they do seem to be trying to squeeze pirates for all they can with this kidna excuse.
BS. The money from the lawsuits is never seen by the artists. Hell, most of the revenues from the CDs are never seen by the artists. Support the band by going to their shows, grabbing their merch there.

Also, for whoever said that he respects the game publishing industry, game developers are notoriously underpaid for what they do. Learn to do basic iPhone programming or Android development, chances are you will get better pay, better work hours and a stable work environment. The industry is quite often abusing the passion these people have for video games.

If anything the game publishing industry is often treating it's developers and programmers probably about as equally as RIAA does its musicians.