Internet, record labels

Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, who along with a team of his students is defending Joel Tenenbaum, the post graduate student ordered to pay the recorded music industry the combined sum of $675,000 for downloading and sharing songs online has asked a federal judge to reduce the penalty or order a new trial. Nesson’s latest argument is that Tenenbaum only caused the companies to lose a total of $21 when he failed to pay 99 cents charged online for each of the 30 songs in question – and this should be the limit of his damages. Tenenbaum, a Boston University student admitted to downloading music and was penalised in July after being found guilty of violating copyright rules for downloading songs between 1999 and 2007 (see previous blogs on this site). His lawyers have appealed against the “severe” and “oppressive” damage award, asking that it be reduced to 99 cents for each song. The recording labels have described Tenenbaum as a “hardcore” infringer. Interestingly I asked my own students about the latest appeal and a straw poll revealed that sympathy had actually swung to the record labels! The idea of a ‘infringe now, pay iTunes if you are caught’ policy really did strike them as somewhat preposterous – it would be fascinating if Nesson’s defence actually sparks sympathy for the Recording Industry Association of America, routinely reviled and mocked in the blogworld for ‘suing its own customers. Times, they are a changin!