Are 30 Songs Really Worth $675,000? The Justice System Thinks So

    August 24, 2012

We brought you the story of Joel Tenenbaum back in May. He was facing massive statutory damages at the hands of the RIAA for sharing 30 songs via the file sharing service, Kazaa. Unfortunately, he was denied an appeal with the Supreme Court which means that his previous sentence stands.

The previous sentence sees Tenenbaum having to pay the RIAA a total of $675,000. That comes out to a little below $22,000 per song. The songs themselves are obviously not worth that much, but statutory damages are never about the worth of a product. It’s meant to be a message sent to those who would also pirate music.

Those same statutory damages were why Tenenbaum tried to appeal to the Supreme Court in the first place. It’s ridiculous to think that the law in this land would award that much money for simply sharing music over file sharing. Regardless of whether or not you think it’s a crime, the amount awarded was simply too ridiculous.

US District Court Judge Rya Zobel obviously doesn’t think that way. In fact, he thinks that the jury’s award was maybe a little too lenient. Here’s what he had to say:

“In spite of the overwhelming evidence from which the jury could conclude that Tenenbaum’s activities were willful, the award of $22,500 per infringement not only was at the low end of the range – only 15% of the statutory maximum – for willful infringement, but was below the statutory maximum for non-willful infringement. Considering all of the aforementioned evidence, the jury’s damage award was not so excessive as to merit remittitur.”

Zobel also says that the $22,000 per song is not “obviously unreasonable.” It seems that the judge and the jury in this case both bought the RIAA’s exaggerated claims of losing oh so much money whenever a song is shared via P2P networks. As it turns out, the RIAA isn’t losing money on piracy, but rather legal procedures trying to combat piracy.

For now, Tenenbaum is stuck with a massive $675,000 fine that’s now set in stone. Despite not even being 30 yet, he’s pretty much ruined for life. It’s a case of a man who refused to settle during the RIAA file sharing witch hunt and lost. At least we can rest easy knowing that the RIAA finally learned their lesson about suing their customers.

You can read the judge’s final thought below:

Sony BMG v Tenenbaum Order August 23 2012

[h/t: Torrent Freak]