Tenenbaum, a graduate student from Boston admitted to downloading and sharing 30 songs in 2004, faced a fine up to $4.5 million – $150,000 per infringement. After a week long trial the jury eventually decided to award the RIAA $22,500 per song based on “willful infringement” mounting up to a total fine of $675,000 for Tenenbaum.
From the start it was clear that the only thing that the jury had to decide on would be the the size of the fine. The fair use defense was thrown out a few hours before the trial started, which shut down the only escape route left.
Tenenbaum’s defense team, headed by Harvard Professor Charles Nesson and his law students, were left powerless. “Undoubtedly, we were a creative and nontraditional legal team. But going into trial, we were stripped of all our attempts to mitigate Joel’s liability, so today’s outcome has been in the cards all week,” student Debbie Rosenbaum wrote.
This is the second win in little over a month for the RIAA. In June, Jammie Thomas-Rasset lost her retrial against the RIAA and was ordered to pay $1.92 million for the 24 songs she shared via Kazaa.
RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy told TorrentFreak that the ‘damages’ will not go to any of the artists, but to more anti-piracy campaigns. “Any funds recouped are re-invested into our ongoing education and anti-piracy programs,” he said.
In total, the RIAA has spent over a million dollars on this case alone, to set an example to the millions of people who share files every day. Time will tell whether or not the verdict will have any impact at all, aside from ruining a student’s life and alienating a few million music fans.