February 24, 2010

Charlie Keeps On Sluggin’ [8:36 am]

Smaller damages sought in music case [pdf]

A Boston University graduate student who was ordered to pay four record labels a total of $675,000 in damages for illegally sharing 30 songs online caused no more than $21 in damages, said his lawyer, who implored a federal judge yesterday to slash the jury award or order a new trial.

[...] If Tenenbaum had bought the songs legally on iTunes, Nesson argued, the student would have paid 99 cents for each, and the record labels would have received 70 cents each from Apple. Thus, Nesson said, total damages should be no more than $21.

“The idea that somehow Congress has done this,’’ Nesson said of the federal law at issue in the hourlong hearing, “it’s almost like an insult to the Congress.’’

But lawyers for the record labels said the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Act was tailor-made for individuals like Tenenbaum, who unapologetically admitted at trial that he had illegally downloaded and shared hundreds of songs from 1999 to at least 2007 through peer-to-peer networks, including the 30 songs on which the jury awarded damages.

[...] District Court Judge Nancy Gertner took the matter under advisement but was openly sympathetic to Tenenbaum, a 26-year-old doctoral student in physics, who sat with his lawyers as his mother, Judie Tenenbaum, of Providence, watched from the gallery.

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Architecture Meets Legislation [8:31 am]

In a battle for control: Money flows in auto bill battle [pdf]

A measure that could make car repairs less expensive for consumers heads to a vote on Beacon Hill today amid a torrent of lobbying by some of the country’s most powerful corporations.

[...] Right to Repair has been proposed in Congress and to eight state legislatures since 2001, but has never been enacted.

In Massachusetts, the legislation was first proposed in 2006. Automakers’ fierce opposition is rooted in the concern that if they release manufacturing information about parts, the after-market parts industry will make and sell them more cheaply.

[...] “I’m just looking out for my interests,’’ said owner Ernie Boch Jr. He said the Right to Repair proposal is like “going to the government and demanding Coke give the formula for their product.’’

Barry Steinberg, owner of four Direct Tire & Auto Service shops in Massachusetts, said he supports the measure because his shops cannot fix some cars, forcing them to send customers to dealerships, where they face higher costs.

“Legislators know their constituents are going to spend more money to fix their cars if this thing doesn’t go through,’’ he said. “That’s why these lobbyists are so scared.’’

Mass Right To Repair Coalition WWW site

Slashdot story: “Right To Repair” Bill Advances In Massachusetts

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