Supreme Court Lets Stand Student’s $675,000 Penalty For Downloading 30 Songs

Joel Tenenbaum

Photo: Joel Tenenbaum (CC)

That’s a penalty of $22,500 per song. Reports Mark Memmott on NPR:

the Supreme Court this morning let stand a $675,000 jury verdict against a 25-year-old Boston University student who downloaded 30 songs nearly a decade ago and then shared them with others on a peer-to-peer network.

The court denied Joel Tenenbaum’s “write of certiorari,” which means his appeal of a lower court’s ruling and the judgment were turned down.

Bloomberg News reminds us that: “The Recording Industry Association of America, acting on behalf of major record labels, sued more than 12,000 people and sent notices to thousands of others it claimed were illegally sharing music … Tenenbaum and a woman from Minnesota took their cases to trial, and both lost.”

Tenenbaum tells his side of the story at his Joel Fights Back website. He says he’s part of an effort to defend “the average Davids against the corporate Goliath.”

Wired says, “the significance of Monday’s action by the Supreme Court … appears to be minimal in the music-sharing context. The RIAA has abandoned its litigation campaign and instead is working with internet service providers to warn file sharers or kick them off the internet if they repeatedly engage in online copyright infringement.”…

Read More: NPR

29 Comments on "Supreme Court Lets Stand Student’s $675,000 Penalty For Downloading 30 Songs"

  1. Make him pay twice the value of each song Xs the number of people he shared with (if that’s even possible to ascertain). Whatever anyone thinks is fair is up for debate but I think most of us can agree that over a half million is a bit excessive.

    • Irish Potato Gun | May 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm |

       How about fuck the RIAA he should Joe Stack them.

      • He did something illegal, he should be punished, preferably with a punishment that fits the crime.

        • Makemyday | May 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm |

          its not illegal you bimbo, they are using him as an example. its impossible to keep data safe while its online. its illegal to waste the supreme courts time on trivial matters of a dying industry. Should we sue the scientists that figured out that asbestos causes cancer? no… you should be punished for being a naughty girl trying to get attention.

          • Ooh, nice, name-calling. That makes you look soooper smart and mature! (Hint: No it really doesn’t, it makes you like ignorant, childish, and unintelligent.) Also quite a few failures there. It is not “illegal” to “waste” the Supreme court’s time. It IS illegal to steal. And if I’m trying to get attention by leaving my opinion on a site, then what exactly are you doing?

            Troll. I bet if you were a musician, you wouldn’t appreciate people illegally downloading your music and sharing it with other people.  

          • Makemyday | May 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

            i am a musician bimbo, so dont assume anything.

          • Random Artist | May 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

            I think she knows she’s wrong by now……. At least I hope so…… I to feel like she’s either trolling everyone or she’s just a very arrogant and sheltered person. However, we could just be mistaking her ignorance for arrogance. Maybe she has no idea how the recording industry operates or how the artists (like myself) feel about the whole “piracy downloading copyright issue”. 

          • Makemyday | May 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

            i felt bad too but she does this a lot and with hot topics not things that easy to debate. sometimes the swords of logic just want to cut a slice you know? 

          • Makemyday | May 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

            you are the one trying to sound intelligent. i dont really care what you think of me, but you seem to care a whole lot about stupid laws and greedy record label executive who are the ones that make the money of the artists. trying to sound intelligent is arrogant and vain. i just say what i feel.

          • Makemyday | May 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |

            mature is another word for old and washed up, which is feel you are becoming rapidly 🙂 made my day 

          • Makemyday | May 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |

            im trying to draw the attention away from you towards ME. thats what i am doing.

          • Harryheck | May 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

            are you a troll, hired by a pr firm, representing the interests of the music industry.  nobody i know, young or old, expresses the way you feel about “illegal” music downloads.

        • Mr NoBody | May 22, 2012 at 12:06 am |

          What a load of crap. If that were really the case
          then there are quite a few bankers, CEO’s and politicians
          who haven’t received an even remotely fitting punishment.

          Keep telling yourself that garbage if that’s what you need
          to make this insane world livable for you. Just don’t expect
          everyone else to buy that garbage.

          • What a bunch of nonsense. It is illegal to steal. To download a song without paying for it is stealing as is sharing stolen goods. So apparently you’re a thief. Of course a thief would defend thievery. And your analogy is ridiculous. Crime of the banksters is a completely separate matter with its own complexities. The banksters should be punished but they won’t because our government is corrupt but that’s another issue. This issueis really quite simple – stealing is wrong, disseminating stolen shit is wrong, the end. 

          • Faulty Start | May 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |

            “What a bunch of nonsense. It is illegal to steal. To download a song without paying for it is stealing as is sharing stolen goods. So apparently you’re a thief.”
            You are not stealing anything when you download a song. You are downloading a copy of a copy of a copy etc.. Which is given to you freely by another individual.

            If I make a clone of your car (a perfect copy) and then make copies of that copy and distribute them freely. I have not taken anything from you, hence no one is stealing. You are not sharing stolen goods either because the original owner still has the original songs.

            Your argument does not make sense in a digital world Bobbie Jean. 

          •  No, moron, it’s copyright infringement… totally different.

            Or should I say “totes” just so you understand?

          • WTFCrazyGirl | May 22, 2012 at 10:05 am |

            WTF is wrong with your brain women! ?


          • Makemyday | May 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |

            i think she has a personality disorder. spliting 

          • Makemyday | May 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

            stfu you dont know what you are talking about.  the data is on a a medium that is very impossible to restrict. If anything the major record labels are stealing from us, using the internet to try to distribute something they want guarded, they contradict each other. You must think you are an artist that one day you will make it big selling your copy righted garbage. You are stealing our time with your stupid comments. The concert is the true work for musicians, the recorded music is merely a tool for marketing. Now you can fight against progress and be trampled or you can join us and calm down and download some relaxing tracks. If he were stealing a cd from someone, thats something physical and collectible a digital track on the internet is not material. You dont see the greed of the recording companies but you seem to understand the need for punishment as if you are a criminal justice expert. I read this site, and everytime you post its double face palm. You should go read fox news and forget about this alternative news site.  But this music battle is a lots cause just like the war on drugs. SOME LAWS ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN SO THEY CAN BE CORRECTED TO FIT THE TIMES. These judges are bribed and sometimes plain ignorant of technology not unlike yourself. If artists dont want their music distributed, they should not release it, period. trying to stop people from downloading is like trying to block the sun with a pin. And intimidating people with legal action is draconian and resembles the mafia and their pathetic efforts to survive off innocent people. Its just so obvious the right answer here that I feel like you are trolling us with your indifference. Music is becoming an art form again, instead of a hypnotic money making tool. There will be other ways to make money, dont worry people are capable, they just wont be making it off digital music recording. And here is the key to all this. Musicians are making money off merchandise, like t shirts, posters, hats  and whatever they can market via the draw their music creates and of course OFF CONCERTS!!! where the real musical work is done. Trying to make profits straight off recordings is actually stealing from their fans if you stop and think about it, its something for nothing because anyone can record music these days for very little money. Get over yourself and your outdated views, you are pissing me off for no reason. Go comment on some less defined like all the bizarre articles you find on this site. And by the way I pay for pandora one service , not for the individual songs, but for the extra bandwidth needed to stream song in high quality, that wastes electricity from extra processing, they in turn pay the artist accordingly, for using their songs to profit.

  2. According to Joel’s link, cited above, there were only 7 songs in question, downloaded when he was 16.  

  3. MoralDrift | May 22, 2012 at 1:46 am |

    go ahead and add another file to the pile, “Deliberate Miscarriage of Justice”

  4. Apathesis | May 22, 2012 at 6:51 am |

    BU is all over the news recently…  Deaths, rapes, rapes, hazing, etc…

  5. Everything digital is free on the internet. Period. 

    Enforcing any type of law against that or otherwise is like trying to fight “terrorism”, IT WONT WORK!

  6. Lifobryan | May 22, 2012 at 10:10 am |

    I hope that he at least downloaded cool music. It would suck if he had to pay $22,500 per song for Milli Vanilli.

  7. Imsmarterthanyou | May 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |

    How can people say that downloading is stealing. I have downloaded many things but after I was done it was still online. I never removed the data i just copied it. 

  8. So, a teenager uploads 30 songs.  The record labels may have lost a few hundred dollars in sales.  For that, the kid is owes $675,000. 

    When a bunch of adult bankers tank the national economy causing untold human suffering to many innocent 3rd parties, nothing happens to them.  

    That’s American justice for ya.  

  9. Colony Room | May 23, 2012 at 12:49 am |

    Simply, i don’t see why government must protect this kind of an institution.
    Let music be free. I hope the record industry fizzles soon! Twwbabp

Comments are closed.