Man faces $675k in fines again for downloading music

An appeals court has reinstated nearly $700,000 in fines to be paid by an American man for downloading tunes.
For his sake, let’s hope that Joel Tenenbaum really likes the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The three tracks of theirs he downloaded off the Internet stand to cost him around $68,000.

A 2009 copyright case aimed at Tenenbaum found him responsible for a $675,000 verdict to be awarded to five record labels after he admitted to illegally sharing music online. The court found Tenenbaum liable after he confessed to offering-up 31 songs on the Kazaaa peer-to-peer file-sharing network four years earlier and responded by whopping him with $22,500 for each mp3 he made available . A year later US District Judge Nancy Gertner reduced the fine to only a fraction of the original verdict, citing the original decision as “unconstitutionally excessive.” Now a year, however, a federal appeals court has reinstated the original decision and Tenenbaum stands to pay ten-times the settlement from 2010.

The Obama administration has supported the fines of nearly $700,000 and have also taken the side of the appeals court in that Judge Gertner should not have questioned the constitutionality, reports Wired.

While Judge Gertner though she made a valid point, the appeals court has successfully argued that she should have gone through the “remittitur” process to reduce Tenenbaum’s fine before resorting to using the Constitution in his defense. Under a remittitur, Judge Gertner could have attempted to reduce the jury’s verdict without a constitutional basis. By relying on the constitution, however, the appeals court feels that Gertner improperly went through hoops to lessen the fine and has now reinstated the original decision.

Judge Gertner found Tenenbaum guilty of copyright infringement after he admitted in 2009 that he had illegally downloaded the music from the Web. Prior to the case of Sony BMG Music Entertainment et al. v. Tenenbaum, only one other case of copyright infringement relating to online music sharing made it to trial — typically cases come to close after a settlement is reached outside of the courtroom. The 2007 case of Capitol v. Thomas fined a then-30-year-old Minnesota man $222,000 for being liable in the infringement of 24 tunes, but four years later the most recent verdict has found that fine to be only $54,000.

Like Jammie Thomas, law experts expect Tenenbaum to file an appeal again. The Recording Industry Association of America continues to argue, however, that judges are unable to reduce damage awards in cases of Copyright Act trials. Tenenbaum's attorney suggests that the federal copyright laws and Digital Theft Deterrence Act were never intended to target consumers, however, reports the Associated Press.

Until everything is set in stone, sharing the Chili Peppers’ “Californication,” “Buy the Way” and “My Friends” stands to cost Tenenbaum $67,500. He'll owe a few bucks to Incubus, Outkast and Eminem as well.

Some of the tunes Tenenbaum shared but not being charged for include the Dead Kennedy’s classic “Kill the Poor” and an arrangement of John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”