Tenenbaum seeks retrial or lesser fine

Joel Tenenbaum, the graduate student who last year was ordered to pay $675,000 in a verdict awarded to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), is seeking a retrial or to have his $675,000 fine lowered.

The RIAA’s attorneys called Tenenbaum a “hardcore” copyright infringer, while Tenenbaum’s defense, spearheaded by Harvard Law’s Charles Nesson, said he should only be liable for $0.99 per song — the retail price if purchased — not the outlandish fine he was hit with.

Tenenbaum stands accused of copyright infringement on 30 songs, with the penalty averaged out to $22,500 per song.

Tenebaum’s attorneys say the $22,500 levy for each song is unconstitutionally excessive, with the defense seeking the fine reduced to $750 per song.

Considering the success Jammie Thomas had during a retrial, I think Tenenbaum would rather just reduce the fine and move on.  However, the RIAA doesn’t have any reason to lower the fine — and the chances of succeeding during retrial are unlikely. Even President Barack Obama’s administration has shown previous support for the RIAA.

After years of receiving abuse from many Internet users, the RIAA has slightly altered its war on peer-to-peer music piracy.  The RIAA previously said it won’t issue any more John Doe lawsuits against individual file sharers, as the group will now focus on pressuring ISPs to prevent piracy.  Don’t expect the courts or the trade group to go easy on Tenenbaum, and I expect the $675,000 ruling to stand.

Both the UK and French governments are interested in booting file sharers offline, though that hasn’t happened in the United States.  Monetary damages must be paid by file sharers, but it’s been rumored the RIAA plans to launch similar legislation to ban repeat copyright infringers.