Student Seeks New Trial in Music Downloading Case

Joel Tenenbaum was ordered to pay record labels $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs.

Joel Tenenbaum, ordered to pay $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing music, is seeking a new trial and reduced fine.
Steve Crowe · January 5, 2010

A Boston University grad student ordered to pay $675,000 to record labels for illegally downloading music has asked for a new trial and a reduction in damages.

In July 2009, Joel Tenenbaum, 25, was ordered to pay $22,500 for each of the 30 songs he shared on Napster and Kazaa back in 2004.

In a motion filed on Jan. 4, 2010, Tenenbaum’s lawyers say Judge Nancy Gertner came down too hard on Tenenbaum, adding that he is one of millions who have downloaded and shared music.

“The fact that digital media was DRM-free on Napster and Kazaa contributed substantially to their immense public appeal,” the filing states. “Encryption, by contrast, limited transferability and necessitated proprietary hardware and software to play the encrypted songs. The advent of iTunes did nothing to correct these deficiencies. The inconvenience of having songs only in an encrypted format was (and continues to be) altogether comparable to the inconveniences of having to buy a whole album to obtain a single song, or having to travel physically to a store instead of purchasing online.”

Tenenbaum’s lawyers argued during the trial that he should be ordered to pay as little as 99 cents for each song, which is about the same amount he would have paid to legally purchase the songs online.

A post on Tenenbaum’s blog,, reads, “Who could possibly think that a massive and entirely arbitrary verdict of $675,000 for sharing songs valued at (at most) $30 comports with any of our traditional notions of fairness and Due Process?”

Secure Your Free Pass to CEDIA EXPO 2019

Register before Sept. 2 to gain free access to the opening keynote, product training & education series as well as the show floor including Innovation Alley and much more. Don’t miss your chance. Sign up today.

  About the Author

Steve Crowe has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Steve at

Follow Steve on social media:
Twitter · LinkedIn · Google+

Steve also participates in these groups:
LinkedIn · Google+

View Steve Crowe's complete profile.

  Article Topics

News · Digital Media · Digital Rights · DRM · Legal · RIAA · All Topics
CE Pro Magazine

Read More Articles Like This… With A Free Subscription

CE Pro magazine is the resource you need to keep up-to-date on the latest products, techniques, designs and business practices. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!