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SCOTUS Declines to Hear Appeal in Illegal Downloading Case

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SCOTUS by Anthony Maki on Flickr

SCOTUS by Anthony Maki on Flickr

The United States Supreme Court has declined to review the $675,000 fine Joel Tenenbaum had been ordered to pay for illegally downloading and sharing music.

As we told you at LegalZoom.com back in September 2011:

The Recording Industry Association of America originally sued the student, Joel Tenenbaum, in 2009. A jury subsequently found him guilty of infringing on 30 copyrights by sharing files via peer-to-peer website Kazaa, including tracks by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem and Incubus. He was ordered to pay more than $22,000 for each track, for a total fine of $675,000.

Tenenbaum appealed the fine, and last year Judge Nancy Gertner reduced it to $67,500, saying the original penalty had been “unconstitutionally excessive.”

However, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned Gertner’s decision and reinstated the original fine. The appeals court argued that if Gertner determined the fine was excessive, she needed to reduce it through a process known as remittitur, which would have given the plaintiffs the option to accept the reduced fine or request a new trial. Because she unnecessarily resorted to a constitutional basis for her decision, the appeals court rejected it.

Tenenbaum, who is a Ph.D. student at Boston University, then appealed the appeals court’s decision, asking that the Supreme Court review the case, but this week the highest court in the land declined his petition — which means the original $675,000 penalty stands at least for now.

According to WCVB in Boston, however, Tenenbaum’s attorney, Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson, said the case will now go back to U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel “who must decide if she will impose the $675,000 or $22,500 per illegally downloaded song, ask the recording industry if it would be willing to take less money or if she will order a new trial.”

Do you think this is a fair and just conclusion of Tenenbaum’s case?

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May 22nd, 2012 at 11:20 am

Posted in Internet Law,Technology

Tagged with ,