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RIAA v. Tenenbaum

RIAA v. Tenenbaum

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Encyclopedia
Sony BMG Music Entertainment et al. v. Tenenbaum is a court case wherein record label Sony BMG, along with Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

, Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

, Arista Records
Arista Records
Arista was an American record label. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment and operated under the RCA Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis, who formerly worked for CBS Records...

, and UMG Recordings
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

 accused Joel Tenenbaum of illegally downloading and sharing files, thus violating U.S. copyright law
United States copyright law
The copyright law of the United States governs the legally enforceable rights of creative and artistic works under the laws of the United States.Copyright law in the United States is part of federal law, and is authorized by the U.S. Constitution...

. It was only the second file-sharing case to go to verdict in the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) anti-downloading litigation campaign (after Capitol v. Thomas
Capitol v. Thomas
Capitol v. Thomas was the first file-sharing copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States brought by major record labels to be tried before a jury. The defendant, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, was found liable in a 2007 trial for infringing 24 songs and ordered to pay $222,000 in statutory damages...

), a large number previously having been settled out of court. After the judge entered a finding of liability, a jury assessed damages of $675,000, although that amount was later reduced to $67,500 on due process grounds. Both parties appealed, and the First Circuit rejected all of Tenenbaum's arguments, reinstating the original jury verdict and remanding to the District Court for reconsideration of the remittitur
Remittitur
A remittitur is a ruling by a judge lowering the amount of damages granted by a jury in a civil case. Usually, this is because the amount awarded exceeded the amount demanded...

 question.

Background



Joel Tenenbaum (born December 25, 1983) comes from Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is the capital and most populous city of Rhode Island and was one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the third largest city in the New England region...

, and attended Goucher College
Goucher College
Goucher College is a private, co-educational, liberal arts college located in the northern Baltimore suburb of Towson in unincorporated Baltimore County, Maryland, on a 287 acre campus. The school has approximately 1,475 undergraduate students studying in 31 majors and six interdisciplinary...

 in Maryland, majoring in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

. He is currently pursuing doctoral studies in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 at Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

.

The court case


After first contacting him in 2005, the five record labels filed suit against Joel Tenenbaum in August 2007, accusing him of copyright infringement for the sharing of thirty-one music files from Kazaa
Kazaa
Kazaa Media Desktop started as a peer-to-peer file sharing application using the FastTrack protocol licensed by Joltid Ltd. and operated as Kazaa by Sharman Networks...

. The case went to trial in the last week of July 2009.

A few months before the trial, the court dismissed Tenenbaum's abuse of process
Abuse of process
Abuse of process is a cause of action in tort arising from one party making a malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process not justified by the underlying legal action.It is a common law intentional tort...

 claim again the plaintiffs, excluded four of his expert witnesses, and denied his motion to exclude all MediaSentry
MediaSentry
MediaSentry was a United States company that provided services to the music recording, motion picture, television, and software industries for locating and identifying IP addresses that are engaged in the use of online networks to share material in a manner said organizations claim is in violation...

 evidence, which could be used to link the file-sharing to his computer. Jurors who used social networks to obtain music were also excluded. Nesson, the defense counsel, claimed this was unfair as Tenenbaum no longer had a trial by a jury of peers. Further, 8 hours before the trial, Judge Gertner ruled that Tenenbaum could not present a fair use
Fair use
Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders...

 defense to the jury.

Nesson argued that Tenenbaum's situation was similar to the Napster
Napster
Napster is an online music store and a Best Buy company. It was originally founded as a pioneering peer-to-peer file sharing Internet service that emphasized sharing audio files that were typically digitally encoded music as MP3 format files...

 situation in 1999 and that he did not intend any harm nor understood the copyright laws. The plantiffs, however, claimed Tenenbaum repeatedly infringed copyright laws and that he had taken actions to evade the law.

During the trial, Tenenbaum answered "yes" to the plaintiff's counsel's question "Mr. Tenenbaum, on the stand now are you now admitting liability for downloading and distributing all 30 sound recordings that are at issue and listed on Exhibits 55 and 56 of the exhibits?" The next day, the jury was instructed that liability was no longer at issue; they only needed to determine an appropriate amount for damages.

On 31 July 2009, the jury awarded $675,000 to the music companies, taking a middle option between the minimum ($22,500 total) and the maximum ($4.5 million). Tenenbaum's lawyer Charles Nesson
Charles Nesson
Charles Rothwell Nesson is the William F. Weld Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society. He is author of Evidence, with Murray and Green, and has participated in several cases before the...

 had planned to appeal; if the verdict had stood, Tenenbaum had planned to file for bankruptcy.

On Friday, 9 July 2010, Judge Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court in Boston reduced Tenenbaum's fines to $67,500, holding that arbitrarily high statutory damages violate due process and are thus unconstitutional. On 21 July 2010, both parties filed notice to appeal the ruling. Oral arguments in the appeal were held in the First Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Maine* District of Massachusetts...

 on 4 April 2011.

The First Circuit rejected all of Tenenbaum's arguments and held on 16 September 2011 that the District Court had erred by ruling on the constitutionality of the jury award before considering whether the award should be reduced by the common law remittitur
Remittitur
A remittitur is a ruling by a judge lowering the amount of damages granted by a jury in a civil case. Usually, this is because the amount awarded exceeded the amount demanded...

. It vacated the reduction in damages, reinstated the original $675,000 award, and remanded to the District Court for reconsideration of the remittitur question by another judge, since Gertner retired. Gertner's retirement followed her appointment at Harvard Law, where she is now a colleague of Professor Nesson.

On 31 October 2011 Attorneys for Tenenbaum filed a petition for a rehearing in the First Circuit Court of Appeals because "it is unconstitutional to instruct a jury that it can return an unconstitutionally excessive award. To instruct the jury that it may ascribe an award in a range of up to $4,500,000 against a noncommercial copyright infringer is punitive, excessive, not authorized by statute, and a denial of due process."

On 17 November 2011 The First Circuit Court of Appeals denied Tenenbaum request to rehear his case, which denies him another opportunity to argue his case against Sony BMG Music Entertainment before an expanded judicial panel.

Tenenbaum has claimed his infringement has actually benefitted the record labels that sued him, stating, "I often have bought music as a result of the free exploration I've done," he told TorrentFreak. "In that respect, I'm much like the average downloader, who actually spends more money on music than people who don't download at all."

31 songs

Copyright Owner Artist Recording Title Album Title
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment was a recorded music company, which was a 50–50 joint venture between the Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann AG...

Incubus
Incubus (band)
Incubus is an American rock band from Calabasas, California. The band was formed in 1991 by vocalist Brandon Boyd, lead guitarist Mike Einziger, and drummer Jose Pasillas while enrolled in high school and later expanded to include bassist Alex "Dirk Lance" Katunich, and Gavin "DJ Lyfe" Koppell;...

New Skin Science
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Green Day
Green Day
Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1987. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool...

Minority Warning
Arista Records
Arista Records
Arista was an American record label. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment and operated under the RCA Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis, who formerly worked for CBS Records...

Outkast
OutKast
Outkast is an American hip hop duo based in East Point, Georgia, consisting of Atlanta native André "André 3000" Benjamin and Savannah, Georgia-born Antwan "Big Boi" Patton. They were originally known as Two Shades Deep but later changed the group's name to OutKast...

Wheelz of Steel Atliens
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment was a recorded music company, which was a 50–50 joint venture between the Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann AG...

Incubus
Incubus (band)
Incubus is an American rock band from Calabasas, California. The band was formed in 1991 by vocalist Brandon Boyd, lead guitarist Mike Einziger, and drummer Jose Pasillas while enrolled in high school and later expanded to include bassist Alex "Dirk Lance" Katunich, and Gavin "DJ Lyfe" Koppell;...

Pardon Me Make Yourself
UMG Recordings Nirvana
Nirvana (band)
Nirvana was an American rock band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987...

Come As You Are Nevermind
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Green Day
Green Day
Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1987. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool...

When I Come Around Dookie
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Green Day
Green Day
Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1987. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool...

Nice Guys Finish Last Nimrod
UMG Recordings Nirvana
Nirvana (band)
Nirvana was an American rock band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987...

Heart Shaped Box In Utero
UMG Recordings Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction...

The Perfect Drug The Perfect Drug (EP)
UMG Recordings Blink-182
Blink-182
Blink-182 is an American rock band consisting of vocalist and bass guitarist Mark Hoppus, vocalist and guitarist Tom DeLonge, and drummer Travis Barker. They have sold over 27 million albums worldwide since forming in Poway, California in 1992...

Adam's Song Enema of the State
Enema of the State
Enema of the State is the third studio album by American pop punk band Blink-182. Recorded at various locations throughout California with producer Jerry Finn, the album was first released on June 1, 1999 in the United States on MCA Records...

UMG Recordings Limp Bizkit
Limp Bizkit
Limp Bizkit is an American rock band from Jacksonville, Florida. Formed in 1995, the group's lineup consists of Fred Durst , Wes Borland , Sam Rivers , John Otto and DJ Lethal . The band achieved mainstream success with their second studio album Significant Other, released in 1999...

Rearranged Significant Other
UMG Recordings Limp Bizkit
Limp Bizkit
Limp Bizkit is an American rock band from Jacksonville, Florida. Formed in 1995, the group's lineup consists of Fred Durst , Wes Borland , Sam Rivers , John Otto and DJ Lethal . The band achieved mainstream success with their second studio album Significant Other, released in 1999...

Leech Three Dollar Bill, Y'all$
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Linkin Park
Linkin Park
Linkin Park is an American rock band from Agoura Hills, California. Formed in 1996, the band rose to international fame with their debut album, Hybrid Theory, which was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2005 and multi-platinum in several other countries...

Crawling Hybrid Theory
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Deftones
Deftones
Deftones are an American alternative metal band from Sacramento, California, founded in 1988. The band consists of Chino Moreno , Stephen Carpenter , Chi Cheng , Frank Delgado , and Abe Cunningham . Currently Sergio Vega is standing in on bass while Cheng recovers from a car accident...

Be Quiet And Drive Around The Fur
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment was a recorded music company, which was a 50–50 joint venture between the Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann AG...

The Fugees
The Fugees
Fugees were a Haitian American hip hop group who rose to fame in the mid-1990s. Their repertoire included elements of Hip hop, soul and Caribbean music, particularly reggae. The members of the group were rapper/singer/producer Wyclef Jean, rapper/singer/producer Lauryn Hill, and rapper Pras Michel...

Killing Me Softly The Score
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk, hip hop and psychedelic rock...

Californication Californication
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk, hip hop and psychedelic rock...

By The Way By The Way
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk, hip hop and psychedelic rock...

My Friends One Hot Minute
UMG Recordings Beck
Beck
Beck Hansen is an American musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known by the stage name Beck...

Loser Mellow Gold
Virgin Records America Smashing Pumpkins Bullet With Butterfly Wings Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness
Interscope Records
Interscope Records
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that currently operates as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-History:...

Eminem
Eminem
Marshall Bruce Mathers III , better known by his stage name Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor. Eminem's popularity brought his group project, D12, to mainstream recognition...

My Name Is The Slim Shady
Interscope Records
Interscope Records
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that currently operates as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-History:...

Eminem
Eminem
Marshall Bruce Mathers III , better known by his stage name Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor. Eminem's popularity brought his group project, D12, to mainstream recognition...

Drug Ballad The Marshall Mathers (EP)
Interscope Records
Interscope Records
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that currently operates as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-History:...

Eminem
Eminem
Marshall Bruce Mathers III , better known by his stage name Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor. Eminem's popularity brought his group project, D12, to mainstream recognition...

Cleaning Out My Closet Eminem Show
UMG Recordings Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys are an American hip hop trio from New York City. The group consists of Mike D who plays the drums, MCA who plays the bass, and Ad-Rock who plays the guitar....

(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party) Licensed To Ill
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

The Ramones The KKK Took My Baby Away Pleasant Dreams
UMG Recordings Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet is an American stoner rock band. Hailing from Red Bank, New Jersey, the group was founded by Dave Wyndorf , John McBain and Tim Cronin...

Look To Your Orb For The Warning Dopes To Infinity
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment was a recorded music company, which was a 50–50 joint venture between the Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann AG...

Aerosmith
Aerosmith
Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many...

Pink Nine Lives
Arista Records
Arista Records
Arista was an American record label. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment and operated under the RCA Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis, who formerly worked for CBS Records...

Outkast
OutKast
Outkast is an American hip hop duo based in East Point, Georgia, consisting of Atlanta native André "André 3000" Benjamin and Savannah, Georgia-born Antwan "Big Boi" Patton. They were originally known as Two Shades Deep but later changed the group's name to OutKast...

Rosa Parks Aquemini
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment was a recorded music company, which was a 50–50 joint venture between the Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann AG...

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1991, the group's line-up consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk...

Guerrilla Radio Battle Of Los Angeles
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

Goo Goo Dolls
Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls are a Grammy-nominated American rock band formed in 1986 in Buffalo, New York, by vocalist and guitarist John Rzeznik and vocalist and bass guitarist Robby Takac. Since the end of 1994, Mike Malinin has been the band's drummer, a position previously held by George Tutuska...

Iris Dizzy Up The Girl
UMG Recordings Aerosmith
Aerosmith
Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many...

Water Song/Janie's Got A Gun Pump

External links