The case of the RIAA vs. Joel Tenenbaum – aka the case that will not die – took another turn today. Although not an entirely unexpected one.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear his case. While this is not the be-all-and-end-all for the case, it’s another roadblock.
At issue was the matter of excessive damages, specifically the statutory damages that allow for between $750-$150,000 per infringement.
In their brief, Tenenbaum’s lawyer is reported by the Boston Globe as saying “This pernicious interpretation of the Copyright Act transforms every bit of cyberspace into a potentially exploding lawsuit and is sparking the development of a spam-litigation industry”. He is, of course, referring to the many copyright trolls we’ve covered in recent weeks and months.
Regardless, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, without comment.
Meanwhile the case is not over. The sole issue being referred to the Supreme Court was the constitutionality of the damages, not the merits of the case in any form.
The trial judge had already reduced the damages awarded to $65,000 before having it restored by the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Nancy Gertner could still reduce the damages again, but in doing so the RIAA and it’s member studios can ask for a retrial. This has happened twice with Jammie Thomas in a similar case. It’s an option Tenenbaum has expressed support for in the past.
Who knows when this case, which started in 2004, will end, and how much more court time will be taken up .
Meanwhile, the real winners are the lawyers for the RIAA (and to a lesser extend the government), racking up fee’s despite having a poor record of getting any kind of money for artists.