Friday, June 28, 2013

First Circuit affirms $675k verdict, calls Tenenbaum conduct "egregious"

In SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has affirmed the jury verdict of $675,000, or $22,500 per downloaded mp3 single, terming Mr. Tenenbaum's conduct "egregious".

June 25, 2013, Opinion, US Court of Appeals, First Circuit


Anonymous said...

I understand why this case went as it did, and I don't really disagree with the resolution of the questions that were actually put to the appellate court.

However, I feel this case demonstrates how justice (in the sense of fairness) and constitutionality are sometimes two different things. It's disappointing that it ultimately had to be resolved on a procedural issue and the distinction between punitive and statutory damages.

The original district court and appeals court judges had reservations about whether such an award against this type of defendant is fair reparation for injury, given that the nature of the infringement was the mere making-available of 30 sound recordings, and given that the defendant prematurely admitted liability without resolving whether making-available is equivalent to distribution.

The original district court also clearly saw the injustice in holding a single copyright-infringing file-sharer liable for the combined effects of all file-sharers together.

So it's astonishing and deeply disappointing that the second round of courts instead embraces consideration of "evidence of the harm...suffered from conduct such as Tenenbaum's" (emphasis mine). I don't see how they can say this without qualification, especially in light of their acknowledgment that the copyright statutes set an extremely low bar for showing any evidence of any harm, be it by the individual at trial or by many such individuals in aggregate. Wouldn't that be all the more reason to specifically tell the jury to avoid giving too much weight to alleged harm when considering the defendant's "egregiousness"?

- Freddy Facepalm

raybeckerman said...

Unlike you, Anonymous Freddy, I do not understand how the First Circuit arrived at the conclusion it did.

I find the decision shallow, poorly reasoned, and very, very w.r.o.n.g.

Anonymous said...

Ray --

I think you're exactly right. This was absolutely the wrong decision.

The court called this a 'punitive' award. Doesn't 'punitive' refer to 'punishment, or intended to punish'?

Then what happened to 'let the punishment fit the crime'?

Sounds to me like the appellate court is off the reservation on this one, by the lights of either Gore or by Williams.

-Quiet Lurker