Report: DOJ Says File-Sharing Verdict Is Constitutional
January 22, 2010 at 4:21 AM (PT)
The DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE agrees with the RIAA that a $675,000 copyright judgment handed down by a BOSTON Federal Court against file-sharing defendant JOEL TENENBAUM poses no constitutional problems, reports MEDIAPOST.COM, which writes the OBAMA administration argues that any damages that fall within the range set by Congress ($750 to $150,000 per infringement) are lawful, even though TENENBAUM didn't have a profit motive when he shared 30 tracks.
"There exist situations in which actual damages are hard to quantify," the DOJ wrote in its brief. "In establishing the range, Congress took into account the need to deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe they will go unnoticed. The harms Congress sought to address, moreover, are not negated merely because an infringer does not seek commercial gain."
The case still could allow the judges to reduce the award, as the DOJ only addresses whether large damage awards are constitutional. This brief says that trial judges have the discretion to reduce damages to the statutory minimum -- which in TENENBAUM's case, would be $22,000.