Online Music File Swapping Trial Underway

The recording industry is squaring off against a Boston student charged with illegally downloading music over the Internet.
A test case involving the online downloading of music files is underway in a Boston federal court, with the recording industry squaring off against a Boston University graduate student charged with illegally downloading music over the Internet.

Participants in the trial of Joel Tenenbaum, 25, of Providence, R.I., have predicted the jury trial will be over by the end of the work week. The recording industry already chalked up an important victory on the issue in June when a jury ruled that a Minnesota woman is liable for $1.92 million in penalties for copyright infringement.

Tenenbaum is represented by Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, a founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Nesson has appealed to the jury by noting that Tenenbaum was very young when he began downloading music.

"He was a kid who did what kids do and loved technology and loved music," Nesson said at the trial. "The Internet was not Joel's fault. The Internet sweeps in like the way the automobile swept into the buggy industry."

However, Timothy Reynolds, representing the recording industry, said "real people" were damaged when copyrighted material was illegally downloaded. He argued that Tenenbaum knew his downloading activities were illegal. According to different interpretations of the federal law involved in the case, Tenenbaum could face penalties of up to $4.5 million if he loses the case.

Involved in the case are recording company subsidiaries of Sony, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group.

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