The Obama administration is backing $675,000 in damages a Massachusetts student must pay the Recording Industry Association of America for file sharing 30 songs.
The Justice Department, where President Barack Obama has tapped five former RIAA lawyers to serve, said copyright infringement “creates a public harm that Congress determined must be deterred.”
The administration’s court filing Tuesday is the latest in the case of Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University graduate student who was the nation’s second defendant to go to trial against the RIAA on file sharing charges. Most of the 30,000 civil cases the music industry has brought have settled out of court.
After the July verdict in a Boston federal court, Tenenbaum’s defense team mounted a legal challenge, saying the damages were unconstitutional because they were disproportionate to the harm the industry suffered. The Copyright Act allows fines ranging from $750 to $150,000 per infringement, all at a judge or jury’s discretion.
“The current damages range provides compensation for copyright owners because, inter alia, there exist situations in which actual damages are hard to quantify,” the Justice Department wrote. “Furthermore, in establishing the range, Congress took into account the need to deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe they will go unnoticed.”
Among other things, Tenenbaum’s legal team wants the damages reduced to $750 per song.
The Obama administration and the Bush administration have supported file sharing damages of up to $150,000 per track. The Justice Department often weighs into cases when the constitutionality of laws are at issue, as copyright attorney Ben Sheffner notes.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner did not indicate when she would rule in Tenenbaum’s case.
The only other file sharer to go to trial against the RIAA was Jammie Thomas-Rasset. The RIAA won a whopping $1.92 million verdict against the Minnesota woman this summer for sharing 24 songs on Kazaa.
A similar motion to set aside that verdict is pending.
Read More http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/0 ... z0dHDWJAtN
so yeah.... Change.