Former Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum's $675,000 fine for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs will stand, says a Massachusetts court. US District Judge Rya W. Zobel has denied Tenenbaum's request for a new jury trial, and said that the fine — which had already been reduced once previously, only to be reinstated — was appropriately determined by the jury and would not be lowered. The original jury awarded damages of $22,500 per song; Zobel points out that the amount falls on the low end of the spectrum for willful infringement, which ranges up to $150,000 per song. It actually falls below the maximum for non-willful infringement as well, which can reach up to $30,000 per song.
Even though the amount is not considered excessive under the US Copyright Act and neither judge nor jury think the fine is disproportionate to the offense, it's the largest standing amount for damages awarded in a music-downloading case thus far. Jammie Thomas-Rasset, another of a select few individuals whose cases have made it to trial, was originally fined $1.5 million for downloading and sharing 24 songs. The amount has since been reduced to $54,000, but her case is still in court and as such the fine could still change. Both cases have stretched on for years and will likely go on for some time to come, but in hindsight, it seems the better decision may have been to settle out of court.