Friday, November 18, 2011

First Circuit Denies Tenenbaum Request for Re-Hearing

The First Circuit Court of Appeals denied Joel Tenenbaum another opportunity to argue his case against Sony BMG Music Entertainment, this time before an expanded judicial panel.
Sony sued Tenenbaum, a college student, in 2007 for violating copyright laws by downloading and sharing music without permission. Sony requested statutory damages under the Copyright Act, which provides awards ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each count of infringement. A jury awarded Sony a staggering $675,000 -- $22,500 for each of 30 songs.
Tenenbaum challenged the award in district court, arguing that it was so excessive that it violated his constitutional due process rights. In response, Judge Nancy Gertner agreed to reduce the judgment to $67,500, prompting Sony's appeal to the 1st Circuit.
A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit reinstated the $675,000 award in September, finding that Gertner committed an error by immediately reducing the award without first giving Sony the choice whether to accept the smaller amount or opt for a new trial. The panel sent the case back to the lower court with the order to first give Sony that option.


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