Court Upholds $675k Verdict in RIAA Piracy Case

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Joel Tenenbaum must pay the RIAA $675,000 in statutory damages, according to a new court decision today. The ruling upholds the original jury trial verdict from 2009.

The decision comes after the Supreme Court declined to look at the case on Constitutional Grounds earlier this year, and the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal reinstated the original verdict a year ago. In its decision last year, the appeal court said that if a new judge assigned to the case could reduce the award again if it granted the record labels a new trial.

US District Court judge Rya Zobel ruled that the damages were proportionate given his attitude and claims he had infringed “for at least eight years, from 1999 to 2007.” He was also criticized heavily for not admitting straight away.

“In spite of the overwhelming evidence from which the jury could conclude that Tenenbaum’s activities were willful, the award of $22,500 per infringement not only was at the low end of the range – only 15% of the statutory maximum – for willful infringement, but was below the statutory maximum for non-willful infringement. Considering all of the aforementioned evidence, the jury’s damage award was not so excessive as to merit remittitur.”

The constitutional aspect of the appeal – that the damages awarded were excessive – also didn’t stand up to the 80yo Carter-administration-appointee. . Referring to the Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999, she notes that these large sums are intended by Congress for this exact reason, and so dismissed that argument too.

“Given the deference afforded Congress’ statutory award determination and the public harms it was designed to address, the particular behavior of plaintiff in this case as explained above, and the fact that the award not only is within the range for wilful infringement but also below the limit for non-willful infringement, the award is neither “wholly disproportioned to the offense” nor “obviously unreasonable.” It does not offend due process.”

There has been no comment from the RIAA, Sony, or the Tenenbaum defense at this time.

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