New appeals court ruling: Posting a copyrighted song to a file-sharing network can cost you up to $150,000 per track

The RIAA once made a habit of suing people en masse, often extracting small settlements from file-sharers before trial. So when Sony’s case against Joel Tenenbaum was not settled but tried, leading the jury to return a $675,000 verdict against him, lots of people noticed. The trial judge later reduced the verdict by 90%, which was appealed. To the surprise of many, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has just reinstated the original verdict:

A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated a whopping $675,000 file sharing verdict that a jury levied against a Boston college student for making 30 tracks of music available on a peer-to-peer network. The decision by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a federal judge who slashed the award as “unconstitutionally excessive.” . . .

The Obama administration argued [on appeal] in support of the original award, and said the judge went too far when addressing the constitutionality of the Copyright Act’s damages provisions. The act allows damages of up to $150,000 a track.

The appeals court agreed . . . and said the judge should have considered reducing the jury’s verdict under what is known as “remittitur.” . . . .  “Had the court ordered remittitur of a particular amount, Sony would have then had a choice. It could have accepted the reduced award [suggested by the judge]. Or, it could have rejected the remittitur, in which case a new trial would have ensued.”


About Guy N. Texas

Guy N. Texas is the pen name of a lawyer living in Dallas, who is now a liberal. He was once conservative, but this word has so morphed in meaning that he can no longer call himself that in good conscience. Guy has no political aspirations. He speaks only for himself.
This entry was posted in Economics, Law, Music, Science and technology. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to New appeals court ruling: Posting a copyrighted song to a file-sharing network can cost you up to $150,000 per track

  1. hortonw says:

    You gotta love the law. Rather that declare the verdict excessive under constitutional doctrines, the appeals court said the judge erred and should have just declared the verdict excessive and give no reason whatsoever.

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