back to article Court confirms $675,000 fine for sharing 30 songs

Joel Tenenbaum has lost his request for a mistrial in his long-running case against the music industry over sharing music and now faces financial ruin. The Massachusetts court declined his request for a mistrial and confirmed he will have to pay $675,000 in fines after being found guilty of sharing 30 songs on the Kazaa …


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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Andus McCoatover

      Judge Rya Weickert Zobel:

      " On January 25, 1979, Zobel was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts created by 92 Stat. 1629. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 21, 1979, and received her commission on March 23, 1979. Among her judicial duties, she was director of the Federal Judicial Center from 1995 to 1999." (from Wikipedia)

      What this has to do with G. W. Bush is a mystery, the solution to which is known only to, well, to no one, I guess..

      1. Mr. Great Sage

        Re: @Andus McCoatover

        But of course G.W. is the correct answer to anything you don't like. RIAA? GW did it. WW2? GW. Why, if you look at the cold virus under a strong enough microscope, you'll find GWB initialed on the side.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Andus McCoatover

            "You won't find GWB under it, but you will find the group that controls him, Bilderberg, under each of these examples."

            Don't you have a 9/11 conspiracy video on YouTube to promote or something? Moonlanding hoax? Crop circles, maybe?

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With a fine like that he may as well get a rocket launcher and blow up their HQ as well.

  2. Rolf Howarth

    Just think how many CDs he could have bought for $675,000!

  3. Trokair 1

    Burn em'

    Yeah, this is total crap. Ruin a guys life over a few songs? He wasn't selling them. WTF is the problem with the judge and more importantly the jury? The large ammounts are there for when there is a major case of stealing and selling, not something like this. What a load. Screw the music industry. Hope they fall off the face of the planet.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    i am not well up on US law being from the UK, is this a state or federal ruling? As from watching 'cops' sytle US shows i know that some ruling in one state don't apply in others. And if this is one of those cases i would just cut my losses and get the hell out of Massachusetts. If its a federal ruling so would apply in every state then i suggest he head to Mexico.

    Cases like this hardly give up the RIAA in a good light though, he may have been distributing the song illegally but where do they come up with such stupid amounts. Surely the 500 hundred dollar fine he offered would be enough of a deterant not to do it again.

    1. ptmmac

      There's always South Carolina

      One of the more idiosyncratic hold overs in south carolina law from the days of indian raids and red coats demanding money, there is no legal mechinism for collecting debts in South Carolina. This makes it a haven for men who don't want to pay child support. I would assume this would work to keep the record companies at bay.

      It would seem to me that if you really think this guy got a raw deal and you have done something similar, you could easily look him up,and send him $10 to show your support for his cause. The record companies might get the money or maybe he might be able to buy a house in south carolina. Either way you would feel better about your own odds.

      My guess is that individuals who find it easy to justify stealing music probably aren't real likely to help you out if you are the unlucky bastard who got caught. There are way too may free ways to get music legally (spotify, pandora, internet radio...) to make this a "good" idea.

      What do you say internet citizens?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's getting off easy

    He should get mandatory prison time of a year in addition to the fine.

  7. mickey mouse the fith

    Thats fair then......

    "In Friday's ruling, US District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel told Tenenbaum that the award against him was not excessive and he should be thankful the RIAA didn’t get more."

    In what world do these judges live in that $675000 isnt deemed excessive?

    And he should be thankful?, wtf is wrong with these people?

    He probably wouldnt have bought the tracks anyway, and neither would anyone sharing with him so the record companies have lost squit from his filesharing, but he has probably lost a huge quality of life by this ridiculous fine.

    And yes, 1 pirated copy does not represent 1 lost sale or indeed 1 lost anything as noones being deprived of anything physical.

    Nick a cd from a highstreet shop (actually depriving someone of an object) gets you a reasonable fine and caution, so how can this massive fine in any way be fair?

    1. Jason 24

      Re: Thats fair then......

      Given the amount of back handers that are probably flying about I've a feeling the judge does now see $675k as mere pocket change....

    2. KBeee

      Re: Thats fair then......

      "In what world do these judges live in that $675000 isnt deemed excessive?"

      When $675000 is about 1 months "Donation" from the RIAA for your re-election fund?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "When $675000 is about 1 months "Donation" from the RIAA for your re-election fund?"

        Federal judges are appointed to their positions for life. Removing a federal judge is a "very big deal".

        Read about it here, on the off-chance that you want to be just a little bit less ignorant than you are now:

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. -tim

    Does anyone have a video of Judge Rya W. Zobel or the Supremes singing Happy Birthday?

  9. Eradicate all BB entrants

    I always thought.....

    .... that an easy way for defence lawyers to win these cases for file sharers is to get the RIAA/MPAA/BPI to provide a full paper trail to show monies recovered have actually made it to an artist.

    There are many many ways to show up the restrictions listed on music and movies as being totally daft. Hell, i'm bored so lets think of some crap ones based on the notes on one of my fully paid for cd's.

    Unauthorised copying, hiring, lending, public performance or broadcasting of this recording prohibited.

    Copying - How many people directly link their pc optical drive to their soundcard anymore? Not many so they all infringe on copying on a pedantic level if you consider what applications like iTunes, Windows Media player and so on do.

    Hiring - Hang on, it's my fault if the local Blockbuster hires me a copy of something not intended for hire?

    Lending - 'Hi mate, any chance of borrowing that cd so I can check it out before buying it?' - 'No, i'm not allowed to'

    Public performance - Means that the Saxo VTR owners that parade up and down Cleethorpes seafront every weekend are totally screwed.

    Broadcasting - Better turn off all of your wireless streaming devices.

    Yes I know they are all fairly weak and quite stupid but unless you have spent your life listening to your purchases in your own home through headphones with no one else present, then you have violated one of the above conditions. The industry model is what is at fault, not the user.

  10. raving angry loony

    Back to 1710.

    The only thing this demonstrates is how broken copyright law really is, and how corrupt the governments are that keep implementing exactly what the "London Company of Stationers Part 2" wish them to implement, with no regards for the actual goals of copyRIGHT.

  11. Nanners


    Why not a billion a song, what's the difference? How did they arrive at that figure?

  12. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    "The day they hanged the lawyers"

    This was a line in a Heinlein novel, referring to part of the history of an alternate Earth. Doesn't sound like a bad idea though. I wish there was a way to get everyone to realize what fecal matter the RIAA truly is, and never give big business that exploits artists and fans alike another penny.

    1. KBeee

      Re: "The day they hanged the lawyers"

      Then Heinlein read it in Shakespeare's Henry VI part 2 - it's since been re-interpreted (by Lawyers) to show how Good and Noble lawyers are...

      "Can you get pregnant from anal sex?"

      "Yes, where do you think Lawyers come from?"

      1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

        Re: "The day they hanged the lawyers"

        The difference is, in Heinlein's novel, it was an actual event that wasn't in the history books and that no one talked about. It vastly improved society though...

        1. Turtle

          @Unicornpiss: Re: "The day they hanged the lawyers"

          "The difference is, in Heinlein's novel, it was an actual event that wasn't in the history books and that no one talked about. It vastly improved society though..."

          That's the beauty of fiction: you can write any kind of world you want and make it look good.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The day they hanged the lawyers"

      Denial isn't the answer. 99.8% of the world doesn't pirate. Those who can't live by the laws of society deserve heavy fines and prison time. Those who own copyrights are not the criminals. Hating copyright holders isn't going to change reality. Those who violate copyright laws are the criminals regardless if they steal music, software or other protected art.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The day they hanged the lawyers"

        When I was a spotty youth, I once demonstrated the ease with which I could pilfer stuff from my local supermarket.

        Are you suggesting I should have done gaol time for a packet of gum?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "The day they hanged the lawyers"

          If you're dumb enough to steal then you belong in jail.

          1. genghis_uk

            Re: "The day they hanged the lawyers"

            Oh for crying out loud - when will people stop repeating the industry drivel?

            This is Copyright infringement not theft. Nothing was stolen.

            Now repeat 100 times by sunrise or I'll cut your balls off...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grad student gets education

    Now he knows you shouldn't steal and/or distribute copyright protected works. Some people need to learn the hard way.

    1. Mectron

      Re: Grad student gets education

      There is no proof of any kind. the RIAA is a CRIMINAL organisation no one can trust anything they say, a log, a list of RANDOM IP address, the easiest thing in to world to manipulate or create from thin air.

      The RIAA just destroyed the life of another innocent person. that is why the RIAA must be destroyed AT ALL COST.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Grad student gets education

        Denial will set you free from your freedom for many years.

        This grad student has had his day in court TWICE and lost BOTH times. If you're feeling lucky you two can have your day in court. Then you too can pay $20+K per copy or go to prison for ten years.

        One way or the other you're going to learn that piracy will not be tolerated. You can hate the RIAA, the judicial system or yourself but you're still going to be punished for your crimes. If you're dumb enough to pirate then you are dumb enough to pay dearly.

        This is reality 101.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Repeat after me

          Piracy (which includes threats, weapons, hijack, murder, rape, theft) <> copyright infrigement (which includes none of these). 100 times.

          Now of course, the justice system is keener to protect corporate assets than citizens' assets or life, hence the comparatively stiffer sentences.

        2. magrathea

          Re: Grad student gets education

          As we live in a theoretical democracy and not a monarchy run by the recording industry, it is quite possible the entire music / film copyright aparatus could be dismantled or severely nerfed if it becomes too inconvenient for most people. It is on the way to becoming too inconvenient

          Play your little legal corruption ball too hard and eventually enough people will get irritated enough and turn up to the fight with a demolition crane and 10 ton concrete ball

          Reality 101

  14. ZenCoder

    Congress passed this law, and only congress can fix it.

    Don't blame the judge, the jury or the supreme court. Congress passed this law, and only congress can fix it.

    When you stop to consider how much the music and recording industries contribute to campaigns, and how little your typical file sharer contributes ... I wouldn't hold my breath.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Congress passed this law, and only congress can fix it.

      The only thing that needs to be fixed is that mandatory jail time be included for piracy of (10) or more copyright protected items/songs/software, etc. The $650K fine is good and appropriate and should be the basis for all future fines for piracy. I suppose they could give the pirates a second option of being hung by their thumbs for 2-3 months.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Congress passed this law, and only congress can fix it.

        Jump off a cliff

  15. A Long Fellow
    Thumb Up

    Yo, Freetards: Reality Check

    1. He broke the law. Stupid law? Maybe. Still the law, and he knew it.

    2. After he got nicked, he showed stupidity (refusing to settle), cowardice (it wasn't me!), and arrogance (c.f. Nesson).

    3. Bankruptcies happen. It's not terminal. Properly handled, this could be a great career starter.

    4. The court did precisely what it was supposed to do: it considered whether the law had been correctly applied, and made a ruling.

    Don't like the law? Change it. Go out and do something useful rather than sitting there like a whining child caught with your hands in the cookie jar. Campaign for legal reform. Write letters (yeah, those) to your congressman. Buy (as some here honorably do) music through other channels. Make some music of your own -- invest some major effort into creating yourself.

    This wholesale "sharing" puts no money into the hands of artists. The deal with the RIAA sucks, but it's where the law got us. As a creative, I'm thrilled that this has happened, because it just might galvanise one or two people into thinking and acting.

    Here's something that would have gone miles toward establishing Tenenbaum's moral credentials: if Nesson had produced one -- just ONE -- street busker to come forward and say, "Yeah -- I know that kid. He always puts a couple of bucks into my hat."

    You want to get worked up about something real? Look at the number of bankruptcies caused by medical expenses.

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      Re: Yo, Freetards: Reality Check

      The problem isn't that he broke the law. Yeah, he surely did. The problem is the outrageous damages and the way he was made an example of. You want to punish him? Sony was willing to settle for a few thousand at one point. That was the original and yet still likely inflated value of what damages they thought they were entitled to. Charge him that. Sony's lawyers are on retainer and don't need to be paid by him. His own lawyer failed and doesn't deserve to be paid, in my opinion. Maybe charge him court costs for wasting the public's time.

      1. Mectron

        Re: Yo, Freetards: Reality Check

        how about charging Sony a fews BILLIONS for abuse of the justice system

  16. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    $22,500 per track

    I bet a lot of musicians wish they were getting paid that $22,500 for each track that Sony takes from them.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Re:"Just stop buying recorded music". Done and done. But, the assholes at the record companies claim sales are dropping ONLY because of piracy, not because they release loads of drivel, and people don't want to buy CDs from these dinosaurs. And the talking heads on the mainstream media parrot that line, ignoring numerous studies showing this is simply not true.

    Anyway, simple solution -- so $675,000 is supposedly not excessive. Well, following this logic, surely a 22,500 year term to pay off those fines is entirely reasonable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      $675,000 is not unreasonable and if he can't pay in full immediately then 22,500 years in prison is an acceptable substitute.

      I'd expect he's starting to see the error of his ways by now?

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Flogging a dead horse (was Re: Agreed)

        AC, you keep banging the drum for Prison time in addition to ungodly fines for what amounts to a civil offense. If we were to imprison the people who commit various civil infringements the US would have, hands-down, the highest per-capita imprisonment rate in the world. We're not too far off as is.

        At that point the US population would be in two parts: Prisoners and prison guards. There would not be enough population to do anything else.

        In summation, you are either a paid shill (and a bad one at that), or a jackass. Please get off of these forums, you are lowering the IQ level here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Swarthy: Re: Flogging a dead horse (was Agreed)

          I would think that the AC who keeps calling for prison time is just a freetard doing some trolling.

  19. Gray

    A solemn guarantee ...

    Every citizen of the United States of America is guaranteed, constitutionally, all the justice one can afford. Sadly, the average citizen can afford very little. Hence, studies show that 95% of all felony convictions in the U.S. are the result of plea bargains. 'Tis a pity the RIAA wasn't willing to bargain in this case.

  20. Mectron

    The RIAA

    MUST be destroyed at all cost and those behind this extremly dangerous international criminal organisation must be executed PUBLUCLY in the most painfull way possible......

    The RIAA is the enemy of every single human on this planet and this verdict proves that the USA justice system is broken beoynd repair and the 2 judge involved need to have hits put on them..... they are low level scumbag.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mectron

      "The RIAA MUST be destroyed at all cost and those behind this extremly dangerous international criminal organisation must be executed PUBLUCLY in the most painfull way possible...... The RIAA is the enemy of every single human on this planet and this verdict proves that the USA justice system is broken beoynd repair and the 2 judge involved need to have hits put on them..... they are low level scumbag."

      It's Mectron... again. Now there's someone with a *real* sense of entitlement.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Must be good drugs?

    Anyone who blames the copyright holders or laws for piracy is in deep denial and on incredible meds... It's time for a reality check as courts will continue to hand out stiff fines for piracy. In addition the U.S. and other countries are considering making piracy a felony with mandatory prison time. The pirates have been warned so they have no excuse when they are prosecuted for their crimes. Whining because you got caught don't change reality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Must be good drugs?

      Then it is time for a reality check ON your reality check. Why is the deprivation of virtual profits (which can't reliably be proven to have come in any event) warrant the same level of severity as, say, Grand Theft Auto (which does involve the loss of actual property)? It's like throwing away a guy for ten years for a pouch of marijuana (which is controversial in its own right). If record companies really wanted to stop piracy, they'd liquidate all their assets and indenture them as lifelong slaves. Guaranteed restitution, then. Instead of tackling the symptoms, why don't the record companies look to the cause of the problem and try to do something about it? Or is it truly against their nature? Their approach is a lot like prohibition. All it does is raise the Forbidden Fruit effect; meanwhile piracy habits go back to fundamental human nature (maximum result for minimum effort). Just as haters gonna hate, pirates gonna pirate.

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