Piracy Verdict Gets Student Fined $675,000

The verdict, $22,000 per track, is far less than the legal maximum the jury could have levied.



A Boston University student who admitted illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs was ordered Friday to pay $675,000 to four record companies.

In awarding the companies $22,500 per track, a federal jury in Boston decided on a far lesser amount than the maximum faced by Joel Tenenbaum of Providence, R.I.. Under federal law, the jury could have ruled that the record studios were entitled to as much as $150,000 per track, or $4.5 million.

The case is only the second time an individual has gone to trial for illegally downloading music. In June, a federal jury ordered Jammie Thomas-Rasset to pay record companies $1.92 million for illegally downloading 24 songs. The Minnesota mother of four is seeking a new trial.

Tenenbaum's lawyer, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, told the Associated Press that he would appeal the jury's decision. Tenenbaum said he would file for bankruptcy if the verdict is not overturned.

While accused of downloading 30 songs, Tenenbaum, 25, admitted in his courtroom testimony to downloading hundreds of tunes over Kazaa's file-sharing software. His attorney argued that he was just a kid doing what kids do on the Internet.

The recording companies that leveled charges against Tenenbaum were Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and subsidiaries of Sony.

In the Tenenbaum and Thomas-Rasset cases, the recording industry argued that "real people" have been damaged by the illegal downloading of copyrighted music. The Recording Industry Association of America initially brought legal action against thousands of individuals it claimed were guilty of music piracy. Tenenbaum was connected to that sweep.

Recently, however, the recording industry has shifted strategy. Rather than go after individuals, the RIAA is working with Internet service providers to stop illegal music sharing.

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