July 11, 2010

Judge Cuts Student’s Music Download Penalty

A Boston Ph.D. student, who was found guilty in 2009 of illegally downloading and sharing songs published by the world's top record companies, has had his penalty reduced by a US judge on Friday.

Judge Nancy Gertner of the US District Court in Boston said the penalty a jury handed Joel Tenenbaum would violate his constitutional rights. The verdict was for Tenenbaum to pay $675,000 in penalties to five record companies that sued him. Judge Gertner said the sum was excessive.

Instead, the judge ordered Tenenbaum to pay $67,500 in damages to Sony BMG, Warner Bros., Atlantic Recording, Arista and UMG Recordings -- the five companies that filed the suit.

"This award is far greater than necessary to serve the government's legitimate interests in compensating copyright owners and deterring infringement," Judge Gertner said in a 62-page decision.

Tenenbaum admitted that he illegally downloaded and shared hundreds of songs since 1999.