Charlie Keeps On Sluggin’

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.