Judge refuses to change $675,000 fine in music downloading case

By on August 24, 2012, 7:30 AM

US District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel has upheld a previous ruling against Joel Tenenbaum for illegally downloading music from the Internet. Tenenbaum was sued in 2007 and ultimately found guilty of downloading 31 songs over the course of two years while a student at Boston University.

The jury at the time awarded the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a judgment of $675,000. He argued that the damages were unconstitutional and excessive. The judge overseeing the trial agreed and damages were reduced to a much more manageable $67,500 but after appeals from both sides, the original figure was then reinstated.

In the latest development, the judge denied Tenenbaum’s request for a new trial by jury, noting that the previous jury had done a thorough job of evaluating all of the evidence in the case and arriving at the $675,000 judgment. Judge Zobel further noted that the penalty was on the low end given the offense of willful infringement. Even if it had been non-willful infringement, it still would have fallen below the limit and as a result, wasn’t deemed excessive.

Charles Nesson, Tenenbaum’s lawyer and a Harvard Law School professor wasn’t immediately available for comment but did indicate an appeal would be forthcoming. In fact, an appeal had reportedly already been filed but he was required to go through the correct process of asking Zobel for another trial before the appeal could move forward.

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