Supremes refuse to touch file-sharing case

The US Supreme Court has refused to touch a filesharing case where a student was fined $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs on the internet.

Joel Tenenbaum, 28, of Providence, Rhode Island, said he still hopes that a federal judge will reduce the amount.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Tenenbaum said he still could not understand how the US justice sytem would uphold a six-figure damages amount for downloading 30 songs on a file-sharing system that everybody used.

A jury in 2009 ordered Tenenbaum to pay $675,000, after the RIAA sued him on behalf of four record labels.

A federal judge called the penalty unconstitutionally excessive and reduced the award to $67,500. But the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals later reinstated it.

The 1st Circuit said a new judge assigned to the case could reduce the award again, but the record labels would then be entitled to a new trial.

Tenenbaum said he doesn’t have the money to pay the judgement because he has been a student for six years.

His argument is that the US Copyright Act is unconstitutional and that Congress did not intend the law to impose liability or damages when the copyright infringements amount to “consumer copying.”

During the trial, Tenenbaum admitted he downloaded music from Green Day, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and others.

His lawyer suggested the damages should be as little as 99 cents per song, about the same amount Tenenbaum would have to pay for a legal online song purchase.

However, Big Content argued that illegal downloading hurt the recording industry by reducing income and profits and since Tenenbaum was a “hardcore” copyright infringer he should help keep Big Content executives in swimming pools and the odd Rolex or two for Christmas.

The association said it offered to settle the case for $5,000.