$675,000 or $67,500? Supreme Court Won't Weigh In
The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear the appeal of a graduate student who was ordered to pay $675,000 for violating copyright through the sharing of 30 music recordings on an Internet peer-to-peer network. The High Court declined the petition to have the case argued before it, thus, allowing the lower court's ruling to stand.
The case brought against Joel Tenenbaum by the Recording Industry Association of America was part of the RIAA's much reported attempt to crack down on illegal file sharing by taking to court a few specific individuals it claimed had been caught doing it. Mr. Tenenbaum's trial resulted in a $675,000 verdict against him.
The judge reduced the amount to one-tenth, $67,500, stating that the six-figure jury award was unconstitutionally excessive. However, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that and reinstated the jury's dollar figure, stating that the Constitution was not the rationale by which the award should have been reduced but, rather, the judge should have considered reducing the verdict under what's known as "remittitur." That's a judicial discretion to reduce an award the judge deems to be excessive. If a judge uses remittitur, the winning party has the choice to either accept that reduced award or retry the case.
Under the ruling of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, the case now goes back to the District Court where the judge could consider remittitur.
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