$675,000 damages award upheld for illegally downloading 30 songs

Posted On July 5, 2013
In Copyright in Cyberspace / Reply

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has upheld a jury’s $675,000 damages award for illegal downloading of 30 songs.

The case began in 2007, when graduate student Joel Tenenbaum was sued by a number of record labels for downloading and distributing 30 songs using file-sharing services like Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa and LimeWire. The jury found Tenenbaum liable for infringing the copyrights in the 30 songs and awarded statutory damages of $22,500 for each song.

Tenenbaum appealed the award on the ground that it violates due process because it is not tied to the actual injury caused, which he estimates to be no more than $450, or the cost of 30 albums at $15 each.

The appeal court dismissed his argument, saying it disregarded the deterrent effect of statutory damages, the inherent difficulty in proving damages in a copyright suit, and Sony’s evidence of the harm that it suffered from conduct such as his.


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