Sony v. Tenenbaum

Joel Tenenbaum was a college student sued by a group of major record labels in its litigation campaign against file-sharers.  Tenenbaum was found liable for infringing the copyrights in 30 songs and the jury awarded the record companies $675,000 in statutory damages.  Following the jury’s verdict, the district court judge reduced the damages award to $67,500, citing constitutional concerns and basic fairness. The record companies appealed to the First Circuit. We agreed with the district court’s decision and with the help of attorneys at the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, filed an amicus brief on EFF’s behalf urging affirmance of the reduced award. We argued that the trial court was correct to try to ensure that damages in copyright infringement cases bear a reasonable relationship to actual harm and urged the First Circuit to apply Supreme Court precedent to hold that statutory damage awards should be reviewed to ensure they are not grossly excessive.