back to article US judge excoriates Harvard team's P2P defense

As expected, a federal judge has affirmed a $675,000 fine against a graduate student for illegally sharing 30 copyrighted songs. What came as a surprise were the unusually harsh words the jurist had for the defendant's attorney. In an opinion published Monday, US District Judge Nancy Gertner excoriated Charles Nesson, co- …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Try to contain my amazement!

    "Meeja" corps in court win shocker!

    We all know the judiciary are in cahoots with the media corps, did these people really think they stood a snowball's? I genuinely admire their courage for trying, but with Mandy's Witch-hunts about to start and Google at long last revealing what most of us already knew, that we are simply stats to be harvested, was this really any great surpise?

    1. Paul 4

      Did you even read the artical?

      Or did you see the title and go "oh downloading. It must be evil media people"?

      This has nothing to do with anything but a truly bad defense. The Judge all but says "I agree with you but your lawyers to much of an ideot".

      Oh, and Meeja is used to discribe oh so hip companys with a love of whale song and painfully hip bars, normaly baised on Soho.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably Tenenbaum will sue his lawyers?

    After all, the judge has made it clear that the size of the award was their fault.

  3. Neil Stansbury

    Don't get it

    As it's a civil case, surely the RIAA (et al) must prove that Tenenbaums filesharing of 30 songs cost them $675,000 in lost revenue or reputation?

    The award can't be punative (can it?), as the industry have now valued their own product at 99c per track, this equates to those tracks causing the loss of over 6,800 sales (at 99c ea.), which seems untenable and unproveable.

    1. John Lilburne

      No they do not

      If Vogue pinches a photo from David Bailey for their front cover there is a market price that the usage would have been, if on the other hand they've pinched it from some unknown photog on flickr the market price isn't so clear. If its some local newspaper that has done it, or some small website then it is even less clear, and if it is someone uploading a song to the interwebs for the world to download even less clear.

      In the UK for example where you need to prove actual loss the small content producer is fucked as it would cost far more than the £100 or so that they could claim for the violation. So copyright legislation is no real deterrent to the likes of The daily Mail if they decide to rip off some small producers works.

      In the US they have a minimum price, plus lawyers fees, for usage of a registered copyright work which is $750 but may be as high as $150,000 if the violation was willful. This establishes a deterrent to copyright violation.

      In Tenenbaums case he continued filesharing even after he was sent a cease and desist letter from the copyright owners, denied that it was him, and blamed his sister or friends. As such the jury found his violation willful and whacked him with $22,000+ per song complained of.

  4. Cowboy Bob

    Thus proving the old adage

    Those who can, do - those who can't, teach

  5. Niall 1

    Is this a case of

    those who can do those who can't teach?

  6. JohnG

    $675K for 30 songs!

    That's $22, 500 per song. Whilst I cannot see what he was doing as "fair use", the amount awarded seems extortionate when compared with the alleged damage.

  7. Hollerith 1

    'fair use' poorly understood

    'Fair use' tends to be used for 'I didn't take very much and I didn't profit by it (much).' But is is a restricted use of someone else's copyright, well-defined in law, and Nesson was a bit mad to try to ram fair use through for 'I took and shared lots of someone else's work without paying for it.'

  8. PirateSlayer
    Thumb Up

    @ Coward

    You didn't read the article then. It suggests the judge sat there and expected a fair use defence which would have (apparently) been just dandy. How that makes her in cahoots with 'the media corps" is very unclear...the article made out she was against such suits and tried her best to get this little sailor into less stormy waters.

    Luckily this pirate decided (or I should say his hugely overqualified leagal team) that instead of defending his actions, he was going to waffle on about "out dated business models" like other pirates and it was clearly to his detriment.

    Hurray for another victory for decency and morality.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Alternative readings of this result

    1) defendants actions were not defendable

    2) lawyer mucked up defence

    3) mixture of 1 and 3

    Just because some people thought that the defendant was morally right doesn't mean he wasn't in the legal wrong.

    Hope the lawyer was pro bono. Mind you in that case "you get what you pay for"

  10. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I may be mistaken...

    ... but im pretty damn positive that yes where someone is found to delibrately and willfully cause "damage" in a court case then punitive fines can be applied.

    Admittedly, in this case, i would say its damn excessive but hey use a shit laywer and your bound to be screwed. And this guys supposed to be a professor - one can only imagine the "calibre" of young laywers he's turning out!

  11. Scuby

    Erm, just one thing...

    Given that the guy is a student, and assuming he loses the appeal. Do they actually think they're ever going to get a cent from him? When will they learn? If you want to recover any kind of costs, then make the fines "payable"!!! $5k maximum.

    1. John Lilburne

      Well for one thing ...

      ... the copyright owners have been willing to come to a deal throughout this saga. The defendant was refused to come to any terms.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Oh they will, poor sod will be held in permanent debt for the rest of his natural, even if he pays it off at $1 a month!

  12. PirateSlayer
    Thumb Up


    Far better to have an attachment of earnings for life of, say, 5% of your monthly gross? Fantastic. His punishment will be more than some murderers here in the UK.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The point of the large damages isn't to make money from poor students - everyone knows he can't pay and probably couldn't be made to pay, however:

    (1) The damages are more a means to warn others against file sharing - sure he may have exactly fuck all to his name but many sharers do have some assets they would rather not lose, like houses, cars and meagre savings. Sure I couldn't pay £400,000 either, but I could lose quite a lot if a similar judgement was made against me.

    They want normal people to ask themselves "is stealing that album really worth risking my house for?"

    (2) in concert with (1) above there is the threat to parents that they could be held liable for their kid's sharings (dad's computer + dad's broadband = dad's liability) - where this is unlikely to happen it is another stick to make adults prevent their children from sharing.

    (3) damages are based on the cost of the "damage" caused not the ability of the damager to pay. If you claim sharing x songs for y time = $Z damage then that is the amount that will be awarded.

    (4) Being awarded a large amount here sets the precedent for the future. Remember that the assorted associations (ass. ass.) have 3 main goals regarding filesharing: they want to stop it happening, they want to be given more rights and enforcement powers and they all want to be the first to stick a really big infringement suit on Google so that they can get a huge windfall and then "tax" the interwebs.

    This award goes towards all 3 of these

    - it will discourage at least some filesharers (or at least make their parents discourage them)

    - it will be used as a stick to beat congress into granting more powers (look how much we lost from one guy, we are soooooooo poor, you need to pass laws allowing us to sue anyone with an internet connection for going equipped to steal our music - think of the taxes and political "donations" that will bring in."

    -it allows for multi-billion dollar payouts when they finally get a sympathetic judge who deems Google liable for all the infringements on YouTube or found through Google search.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


      "(1) The damages are more a means to warn others against file sharing"

      This the same sort of thinking that got starving people deported to Australia for life because they stole a loaf of bread.

      It actually goes against the basic justification for punishment that the nature of punishment must match the crime. (but this in ‘Merkin land), and that the punishment should compensate the victim of the crime, or the society in general, by way of fines or compensation, and such compensation should match the loss caused by the crime.

      However this is not a criminal case, it is a civil case involving breach of copyright, did the plaintiffs demonstrate that the actual loss to themselves was $675,000? No they didn’t

      What we are seeing is the payoff to the copyright MAFIAA as a result of all their lobbying behind the scenes to change the basic principals of law to protect there monopolistic control of the music industry, their continuing “lobbying” to have the law changed to protect their monopoly stranglehold on the music industry with the help of their paid sock puppets in the US Senate tried to have copy right infringement made a federal offence so the Merkin judicial system would be forced to protect the MAFIAA strangle hold on music so they can continue to thrower vast amounts of money from somebody else’s hard work and talent.

      I think reading amanfromMars posts is beginning to affect me....

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Well that settles it

    Any thought I had of studying law at Harvard is now in the trash bin.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waiting for the big 4 to get a more deserved shafting in Canada

    The big 4 labels have got into the habit of releasing compilations without licensing agreements in place, and haven't been very good at paying up. Now the artists are going to court over it using the labels' own list of over 300,000 tracks. I would hope this systematic commercial infringement would be treated more harshly than a bit of filesharing, but the maximum penalty in Canada is $20k per infringement rather than the $150k in the US.

    More details here:

  16. Mectron
    Thumb Down

    Mirror Mirror who is the most

    openly corrupted judge in the USA?

    Well: Judge Nancy Gertner of course.

    The real enemi of the USA is not Terrorists, it is the MPAA/RIAA working hard every day to DESTROY AND RUINE lifes for ever.

    i wonder what was her price to render such a flawed verdict that destroy the life of young person forevere?

    1. Deadlock Victim

      Destroying lives forever?

      "The real enemi of the USA is not Terrorists, it is the MPAA/RIAA working hard every day to DESTROY AND RUINE lifes for ever.

      i wonder what was her price to render such a flawed verdict that destroy the life of young person forevere?"

      That's one of the dumber things I've heard online. The guy can just file for bankruptcy and never pay the RIAA a cent. Seven years later and that bankruptcy will fall off his credit report and it'll be as if it never happened.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Wow, I don't know who's most stupid

    Nesson, Tennenbaum, or the wankers here who think "oh, the poor baby was unfairly found guilty (by a JURY mind you) and then this massive fine imposed by the bad old judge (NOT; fine set by the jury again).

    Read up a little folks before posting stupid. He was notified MULTIPLE TIMES and continued to share files (that weren't HIS to share). He was offered small settlement amounts multiple times and refused every offer. He got an idiot for a lawyer and lost his case. The judge did her job (and pretty well from what i've read of the case). The RIAA is doing their job (trying to protect IP from blatant copyright violators). Joel ADMITTED to file sharing, under oath, on the stand. Joel also tried to throw his family and friends under the bus by accusing THEM of doing HIS sharing. The jury COULD have set the fine much higher, but didn't. Will he ever have to pay all that? Not likely. Maybe he will have learned his lesson, but it's going to hang over him forever because of his poor behaviour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      And then...

      ... We will finaly have our revenge and feel better about our selvs because we really beat this guy. USA USA USA USA

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