16-Year-Old Downloaded Songs, Now Charged $675,000
Joel Tenenbaum has been ordered to pay a fine of $675,000 for illegally sharing 31 music files back when he was a mere 16 years old. Tenenbaum, now 25, was ordered to pay the amount five years after the case initially went to court back in 2007.
Tenenbaum was 16 years old when a letter arrived at his house demanding he pay $5,250 for downloading seven songs. The young man responded saying he could only pay $500, according to the BBC. The case finally made it to court in 2007 after top record companies decided to pursue the case. The jury in that case found that Tenenbaum’s illegal file-sharing was willful and decided to fine him $675,000.
Tenenbaum reportedly refused to settle, arguing that the penalty was unconstitutional. The judge agreed that the fine was excessive and the case was pushed back to 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t want to touch this particular case with a 10-foot pole, according to CNET.
This week’s ruling in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts upheld the original fine the jury had decided upon back in 2007. The judge made a statement about the final ruling, stating that Tenenbaum willfully neglected several warnings about file sharing and continued to violate copyright laws anyway. The judge concluded that Tenenbaum’s awareness about what he was doing as he uploaded and downloaded files made the fine appropriate.
The BBC notes that during the trial, Tenenbaum admitted to downloading and sharing around 800 songs. He could have been fined $150,000 for every song he shared, or every incidenct of copyright infringement, which officially means he could have had to pay over $4 million for the original 31 files under dispute in this case.
The Recording Industry Association of America expressed the pleasure at the newest verdict, simply stating, “We are pleased with the District Court’s decision,” according to CNET. Tenenbaum’s lawyer did not have a statement for the press after Friday’s decision.
The case sets a firm precedent in an era where music sharing has become a common practice. Global legislation has been swirling around many European and North American countries in recent years, with the United States spearheading a campaign to oust torrent sites like Pirate Bay. Just this month, the famous torrent-sharing site, Demonoid, was shut down by Ukrainian officials as part of the global campaign to slow file-sharing.
Tenenbaum’s case has served the recording industry well by making a public example of Tenenbaum.
Photo Credit: Aravind Sivaraj