Constitutional Law

Judge Slashes 'Excessive' $675K Award in Music Download Case to $67.5K


A Harvard Law School professor representing a graduate student in a high-profile music downloading case has finally won a significant victory.

On Friday a federal judge slashed the $675,000 awarded last year by a Boston jury against Charles Nesson’s client, Joel Tenenbaum, to $67,500, saying that it is “unconstitutionally excessive” and has “no meaningful relationship” to the legitimate interests of deterring infringement and compensating copyright owners, reports the Arts Beat blog of the New York Times.

Both sides expressed unhappiness about the ruling by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner:

The Recording Industry Association of America, which pursued cases against Tenenbaum and other individuals accused of willfully ignoring copyright law, said in a written statement that it disagrees with the opinion and will contest the ruling.

Meanwhile, Tenenbaum can’t afford to pay $67,500 any more than he could afford to pay $675,000, a post on the Joel Fights Back website states. Songs on iTunes cost about $1, it notes, saying that Tenenbaum only downloaded about 30 copyrighted songs.

Related earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Award Cut to $54K from $1.92M in Music File-Sharing Case”

ABAJournal.com: “Harvard Law Prof Nesson on the Hook for Motion Cost in Downloading Trial”

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