Tenenbaum Fined $675,000 for Sharing 30 Works

After the judge simply told the jury to decide on a fine, and not asking them to consider the validity of evidence presented by the copyright industry among other things, the Jury found that Tenenbaum be fined $675,000 for sharing 30 songs.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Rewinding a little, during the original trial of Jammie Thomas, Thomas was fined $222,000 for sharing 24 songs. This is $9,250 per work. Here in the Tenenbaum case, a jury fined Tenenbaum $675,000 for sharing 30 works – that’s $22,500 per work. Tenenbaum got fine nearly 2.5 times Thomas’ fine.

With such a huge difference – let alone Thomas’ later fine of $1.92 Million for sharing 24 songs, it immediately raises the question of what kind of measuring stick is being used for infringement. It’s more likely that the fine is little more than guesswork. Added to this, there’s no distinction between commercial infringement and non-commercial infringement in the United States.

The differences in the fine should make it even more clearer that it is critically important that the plaintiff must show actual damages caused, not to mention have a clear-cut foolproof method of actually gathering evidence against someone legally. As the defence has already argued in the Thomas case, given that a song could be bought for just over a dollar, the damages award is stratospheric compared to actual damages – in other words, if 1 download is 1 lost sale, it’s insane to consider any damages above 14 bucks per work. As of yet, the only thing closest to evidence of damage caused was assumptions and guesswork done by the copyright industry.

How is it constitutional that one person could be fined $222,000 while another person, for a very similar act, be fined over 3 times the amount anyway? Given that the awards are purely subjective, it isn’t hard to see just how fishy the whole system is – especially given that this is well in the territory of non-commercial use.

Of course, there are reasons why some outside the US see the whole legal and political system in the US as little more than a servant to the corporate world. Who knows, for some, this may be another sign of this. Either way, the copyright system is bound to draw international scepticism.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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