Another day, another RIAA trial victory. Joel Tenenbaum was ordered to cough up $675,000 to the record labels. It works out to $22,500 per song he downloaded off Kazaa years ago.
And while it’s so, so easy to say, “Boo, RIAA,” Tenenbaum sees the verdict as a sort of admission by the jury that his defense worked. (He was facing up to $4.5 million in damages.) He told Ars that he was “disappointed, but not surprised,” with verdict, recognizing that, yeah, things could have been much worse.
His lawyer, Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, wasn’t happy with it, noting that it’s a “bankrupting award,” because Tenenbaum doesn’t have a cool $675,000 to pay for a couple of songs.
I never did understand how you could walk into a Best Buy, physically steal a CD, get caught, and still not have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. My guess is that RIAA lawyers have convinced juries and judges that for every song you put in your shared folder, and for every person that downloads, that represents lost sales. Still, it seems excessive.
Tenenbaum will appeal, of course, so there’s no point in freaking out just yet.
And, frankly, RIAA stories have lost all heat.