Although it promised not to file any ‘new’ lawsuits against file sharers towards the end of last year, opting to work with ISPs instead, the RIAA also said it has no choice but to move forward with the legal process on previously-filed cases. Most of them are settled early on for between $3,000 and $5,000, but one in particular made it to court recently and ended with a hefty fine of $675,000 for Boston college student Joel Tenenbaum.
Tenenbaum admitted to downloading and distributing music over peer-to-peer networks and was prosecuted and convicted on the basis of 30 shared songs. He received a fine of $22,500 per infringement, beyond the minimum $750 per song charge, but well below the maximum of $150,000 for willful infringement. His lawyer, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, plans to appeal the decision and said things might have gone differently at trial had the defense been allowed to argue Fair Use.
This is the second major courtroom victory for the RIAA against an individual file-sharer. In an earlier instance, Jammie Thomas was initially asked to pay 220,000 dollars, but won a retrial, after which a Minnesota jury actually raised the fine to a record $1.92 million for only 24 tracks.