$675,000 Piracy Fine Upheld
While an award of $675,000 in damages as punishment for downloading 30 songs online may sound egregiously excessive -- especially to the no-doubt millions of file sharers who have each downloaded hundreds of songs and movies illegally -- a federal appeals court has held that the amount not only was fitting but that it could have been worse. As reported by TorrentFreak.com, which follows BitTorrent file-sharing usage, the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a jury's decision in 2009 to award the recording industry $22,500 for each of 30 songs Boston student Joel Tenenbaum was accused on downloading. Much of this behavior was exactly what Congress was trying to deter when it amended the Copyright Act, the court said in its decision. Therefore, we do not hesitate to conclude that an award of $22,500 per song, an amount representing 15 percent of the maximum award for willful violations and less than the maximum award for non-willful violations, comports with due process. But one person posted a message on the TorrentFreak site observing that Tenenbaum would probably have received a lighter sentence had he gone into a store and shoplifted the actual CDs.