Judge slashes "excessive" downloading fine tenfold

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Judge slashes "excessive" downloading fine tenfold

Student saves a packet on file sharing costs.

A Boston judge slashed a fine for downloading against a unicersity student tenfold, caling it "unconstitutionally excessive."

Student Joel Tenenbaum was last year ordered to pay four record companies US$675,000 after being found guilty of sharing 30 songs. Now US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner has cut that to US$67,500 and called the initial award " unconstitutionally excessive."

"Weighing all of these considerations, I conclude that the jury’s award of US$675,000 in statutory damages for Tenenbaum’s infringement of thirty copyrighted works is unconstitutionally excessive," she wrote.

"This award is far greater than necessary to serve the government’s legitimate interests in compensating copyright owners and deterring infringement. In fact, it bears no meaningful relationship to these objectives.”

As such the judge found that the award violated the defendant's constitutional rights due to its huge size and cut it, in line with other recent cases.

"With this decision, the court has substituted its judgment for that of 10 jurors as well as Congress," said the RIAA in a statement.

"The judge appropriately recognised the egregious conduct of the defendant, including lying to the court about his behaviour, but then erroneously dismisses the profound economic and artistic harm caused when hundreds of songs are illegally distributed for free to millions of strangers on file-sharing networks. We disagree with court's reasoning and analysis, and we will contest this ruling."

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