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Joel Tenenbaum 675,000 Dollar Fine Upheld in Latest Round With The RIAA

by on24 August 2012 2975 times

Joel Tenenbaum, the guys who was hit with a $675,000 bill for sharing 30 songs though the Kazaa network has had a major setback (again). After being found guilty of infringement back in 2009 the courts ruled that he owed the RIAA (Recording Industry Artists of America) cartel $22,500 per track which amounted to 675,000 in damages. We have talked about the interesting math that the MPAA and RIAA use (which is starting to trickle over into other areas), but still could not find out how they arrived at this figure for their original request for “statutory damages”.

In order to hit $22,500 in damaged per track that single shared file would have to have been downloaded from Tenenbaum about 16,000 times if we use the high-end price for songs on iTunes in 2009. If we use the lower $0.99 that jumps to 22,700 downloads. Even taking the length of time that the RIAA claims for infringement, 1999 – 2007, that means 4-6 downloads per day of each of the 30 songs which is not realistic. The number is not only unrealistic, but illustrates that the RIAA just does not get the world in which they operate. The court system still buys into these figures though and the judge in the case said that Tenenbaum should be thankful that he did not have to pay more.

Tenenbaum did dig his own grave and probably should have tried a little more to strike a deal with Sony (and to stop after the second threat maybe..), but we do find it interesting that the court only used testimony from the music industry for the damage that the industry faces from piracy. They appeared to reject the fact that Sony Music Group continues to earn a significant profit from music sales and at the time the suit was filed they were trying very hard to fight the rise of digital distribution. Now they have embraced it (if somewhat late to the party) and it is costing them for their reluctance to get on the wagon. The original evidence presented it contrary to what they are doing today. In their original testimony they claimed it would be cost ineffective to provide a blanket license for digital distribution “quoting testimony by a representative from Universal Music Group which suggested the grant of a such a license would result in the record companies losing complete control over their assets and drive them out of business”. Oddly enough this is what they are doing with most titles now. Considering sites like Zune and Rhapsody that provide an all-you-can eat type of access for a very low rate we cannot believe that anyone can really believe that it is not possible to offer music for a lower price than $.99 per track.

In the end it is all about the profit as the RIAA clearly stated in their claims that their “primary source of revenue stems from their exclusive rights to copy and distribute the musical works of their contracted artists”. The majority of that money goes to the record companies and not to the artists. This why they reject the digital medium as there is less control, lower profits and a higher potential for artists to escape the highly restrictive contracts that the industry requires. We already know that it is one of the reasons the RIAA teamed up with the MPAA to get rid of Megaupload and it is also the reason that both cartels are embarking on a new campaign against anyone sharing any type of media files… in some cases even if it is a file that the MPPA or RIAA do not even have rights to.

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Last modified on 24 August 2012
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