Speaking of assholes being assholes, here’s the latest in the RIAA’s neverending quest to make overly draconian examples out of anyone caught enjoying some free music:
Yesterday marked the end of Joel Tenenbaum's court battle with the RIAA over 31 songs he illegally distributed on Kazaa. A federal judge denied his latest appeal, and now he's on the hook for $675,000. That's nearly $22,000 per song, plus some wholesale character assassination that has now been sealed with judge's rubber stamp.
And the moldy cherry on top is Judge Rya Zobel’s pontification following Tenenbaum’s defeat:
In short, there was ample evidence of willfulness and the need for deterrence based on Tenenbaum's blatant contempt of warnings and apparent disregard for the consequences of his actions. In spite of the overwhelming evidence from which the jury could conclude that Tenenbaum's activities were willful, the award of $22,500 per infringement not only was at the low end of the range – only 15% of the statutory maximum – for willful infringement, but was below the statutory maximum for non-willful infringement.
In other words: “Tenenbaum was a total inconsiderate brat for downloading those few songs without paying for them, and he should totally be thanking me on bended knee for not ruining his life as much as I could have. ’Cause I’m so lenient.” Because bankrupting a teenager with $675 thousand is just so much more reasonable than bankrupting him with $4.65 million instead.
Mario Aguilar at Gizmodo summarizes the case (much more civilly than I would) thus:
Regardless of what the maximum allowable penalty for a crime is, anything more than a slap on the wrist for Tenenbaum's actions would have been hugely disproportionate to the crime. As it stands, the RIAA has certainly made an example by ruining one kid's life financially and dragging his name through the mud. Although it's maybe not the one they intended.
With these RIAA fanatics, it thankfully never is.