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SCOTUS Refuses To Hear Tenenbaum Appeal 420

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
quantr writes "The Supreme Court has declined to hear Joel Tenenbaum's appeal. A jury in 2009 ordered Tenenbaum, of Providence, R.I., to pay $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs. A federal judge called the penalty constitutionally excessive, but the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it at the request of the Recording Industry Association of America. Tenenbaum's attorney, Harvard law professor Charles Nesson, said he's disappointed the high court won't hear the case. But he said the 1st Circuit instructed a judge to consider reducing the award without deciding any constitutional challenge. Nesson said 'Tenenbaum is just entering the job market and can't pay the penalty.'"
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SCOTUS Refuses To Hear Tenenbaum Appeal

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  • by tomkost (944194) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:43PM (#40068501)
    They have failed us more so than the other branches of government. They should protect us from unreasonable laws, judgements and crimes. But they are now a rubber stamp for abuse. Sure, they throw us a bone every now an then (cops can't throw a GPS on your car anytime the feel like it), but for the most part, they confirm the abuse of the constitution and the ongoing pillaging of this country by the special interests with deep pockets.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:50PM (#40068569)

      Not really.
      Historically the Supreme Court has left decisions to the lower-level State and Circuit Courts, while they maintain a hands-off policy. They only hear a case where there is discrepancy (multiple union courts reaching opposite conclusions) in order to set an official precedent for the union judges.

      If anything I would say the Supreme Court and its lower branches have shown FAR more fidelity to the constitution than the other 2 branches, or the Member States, which often act as if the Constitution does not exist.

    • by sideslash (1865434) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:53PM (#40068613)
      I disagree. The legislative branch (i.e. Congress) is most at fault here. If you think the default solution to society's problems is for the judicial branch to override the laws of the land, you are asking for trouble. That's appropriate in a few cases, but it's better to blame those who wrote the bad laws in the first place.
      • by TheCarp (96830)

        But it doesn't help to blame the RIAA lawyers.... oh wait...did you mean the people who passed the bad laws?

      • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:29PM (#40069099)

        If you think the default solution to society's problems is for the judicial branch to override the laws of the land, you are asking for trouble.

        Given that the vast majority of new laws are blatantly unconstitutional, that's precisely what I would expect the judicial branch to be doing.

        • I'm sorry friend but frankly the SCOTUS has been crippled since they let FDR mangle the commerce clause to keep him from simply stuffing the court with enough votes to get what he wanted. Honestly i wish they had stuck to their guns because at least then SCOTUS wouldn't have this air of impartiality when there are so many blatantly unconstitutional rulings on the books from previous courts it would probably take them a couple of decades just to fix the mess that the previous courts allowed.

          So I'm sorry friend but once they let the commerce clause be "anything you want it to be" things have just gone downhill. Now you have justices like Thomas getting bribed through his wife, Scalia taking trips with the VP, the impartiality is simply not there.

          • by Eskarel (565631) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @02:16AM (#40073633)

            The commerce clause isn't "anything you want it to be", it's just a massively powerful constitutional clause. Perhaps one which the founders didn't anticipate being massively powerful, but one that was written that way none the less

            When the founders wrote the constitution, the US was, for all intents and purposes a federation of states, largely speaking the states were independent and the federal government was essentially the arbiter of disagreements between them. That was fine and dandy back then because that's how things actually were, there were very few multinational or even interstate corporations in existence and to most people the neighboring state may as well have been make believe because they'd never see it.

            The world has changed, interstate companies and even international companies are now the norm. Pretty much every commercial transaction you take part in is interstate, and so the commerce clause applies to pretty much everything you do.

            It's sort of one of those problems facing most federations(including the EU for all that it was formed in the last few decades). The model works great when states are largely independent, but it falls down very quickly when they're not as you end up in this situation whereby either the arbitration powers of the federal government become all encompassing or the federal government can't do its job due to extensive restrictions. In reality it's probably time for a lot of countries to take a fresh look at their constitutions and make a judgement as to what should actually be the domain of the states and how exactly that's all going to work now that states aren't, for all intents and purposes, independent countries. How do you regulate Goldman Sachs? Which state or local government controls them? Do we regulate them where their corporate office is(City of New York)? Where the client lives? Where the transaction took place? Which level of government is closes to Goldman Sachs? To the Mississippi River? To Microsoft, or Google, or Apple, or your bank? Perhaps unfortunately there is very little that can still be effectively regulated by the states, let alone local government.

            That's not to say the court isn't corrupt and partial(though I'd suggest that has more to do with the process of picking judges than anything else, Supreme Court appointments are not based on merit, but on politics, so unsurprisingly Supreme Court Justices are political creatures), but the explosion of the commerce clause isn't really a result of that.

            • Then explain how a man growing wheat on his own land to feed his own chickens is covered under INTERSTATE COMMERCE. Go ahead and try, I dare you. It was THAT ruling that FDR pushed through that turned the commerce clause from being just a normal clause into "anything you want it to be" and it is only in the last few years that they have even attempted to reign it in at all.

              But go ahead and try to say its not unconstitutional, because i have seen some real doozys trying to weasel word their way through that ruling and they simply can't. FDR wanted power he didn't have, he did an ass pull with the commerce clause and told the court "Rule my way or I'll stack the court until I get my way" and they basically laid down. That was the end of the impartial supreme court friend, it died on that day.

      • There's plenty of blame to go around for all involved.

        The Legislative branch deserves the blame for crafting these shitty laws in the first place.

        The Judicial branch deserves the blame for letting these shitty laws stand. (Hint: Their job was supposed to be more than just running trials and turning lawyers into the new priesthood)

        The executive branch deserves the blame for enforcing these shitty laws.

        That was supposed to to be the whole point of "checks and balances." To use a metaphor from my own family,

        • by jamstar7 (694492) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:52PM (#40070153)

          The Legislative branch deserves the blame for crafting these shitty laws in the first place.

          The lobbyists deserve blame for writing these shitty laws. The legislature deserves blame for rubberstamping them. The executive branch deserves blame for not vetoing them.

      • That's actually how it often works in my country (Canada). Dumb assed politicians make bad laws, and judges make rulings that challenge them. (or invalidate them until re-established by a higher court or after remedies).

        Judges in my country aren't elected assholes with agendas and constituents to serve, though. Most of them are pretty fair and this is how unfair laws get fixed, here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      The Supreme Court's job is not to protect you from the democratic system. If you don't like the current set of laws, running around like an over-caffeinated teabagger shouting "Unconstitutional! Unconstitutional!" isn't going to help.

      What constitutes unconstitutional is relatively narrowly defined. Tenenbaum violated laws that have been on the books, in one shape or form, for centuries and are expressly blessed by the constitution. He did so knowingly, willingly, and unnecessarily. He may possibly have b

      • by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:59PM (#40068721) Journal

        You want to change things, get more active in your democratic system

        Fuck you. The system is rigged to prevent any change by average people and you know it. Money buys you access, access buys you laws. Period.

        You want to change things? Hit the streets.

        • by mdarksbane (587589) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:07PM (#40068805)

          Because hitting the streets has been so effective.

          Groups of people have money. You think the NRA is funded by gun industry big wigs? Ha. It's funded by the 40-50% of the country who owns guns. Combined action generates money, and gets your cause access.

          How many people download songs? They may have been idiot teenagers and college students to start, but they're growing up, getting jobs, starting companies. Go get involved and maybe you'll have a lobby useful enough to write some legislation.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:20PM (#40068985)

            Groups of people have money. You think the NRA is funded by gun industry big wigs?

            Yes, it is, and you're depressingly naive to think otherwise. What, did you just fail to notice that any time some law comes up restricting or banning the importation of foreign guns or ammunition for domestic sale, the NRA doesn't give a damn? They're in the pocket of American arms manufacturers. They don't care how high the price of ammunition gets for the consumer as long as there's a protectionist market on it.

            • by mdarksbane (587589) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:31PM (#40069123)

              Ok, screw the NRA. Buckeye Firearms. Funded almost entirely by individual donations. Run by a volunteer who has to read briefs for his day job in between committee meetings. Has completely rewritten Ohio concealed carry laws over the last ten years.

            • by rahvin112 (446269) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:38PM (#40069235)

              You're way off into hyperbole. The OP is right, the vast majority of the NRA's funding comes from members. Those members are people that own and use guns. Just because you don't know any NRA members doesn't mean they aren't all around you. The NRA is actually one of the largest member organizations in the US, dwarfed only by the AARP. I personally know half a dozen members, and let me tell you they are all rabid anti gun control.

              I don't support the NRA (or some of their positions) but I agree with them that in general gun control is a bad thing. And as a person that lives in the western US I can tell you very affirmatively that outside most major metro areas the people that are members of the NRA are more common than those that aren't. This is particularly true the more rural the area is. It doesn't help that the NRA appeals to those that believe the yuppies in the cities are trying to tell them how to live their lives.

            • What, did you just fail to notice that any time some law comes up restricting or banning the importation of foreign guns or ammunition for domestic sale, the NRA doesn't give a damn? They're in the pocket of American arms manufacturers. They don't care how high the price of ammunition gets for the consumer as long as there's a protectionist market on it.

              Hmm, would that be like the "assault weapon ban" that Clinton put into place? The one that outlawed a great many foreign-made firearms while specifically e

          • Because hitting the streets has been so effective.

            Groups of people have money. You think the NRA is funded by gun industry big wigs? Ha. It's funded by the 40-50% of the country who owns guns. Combined action generates money, and gets your cause access.

            How many people download songs? They may have been idiot teenagers and college students to start, but they're growing up, getting jobs, starting companies. Go get involved and maybe you'll have a lobby useful enough to write some legislation.

            You propose to utilize a system (lobbying) that is in itself the cause of all the problems in the US legislature? Don't you know that the little guy will be always outgunned, if the guns you use is money?

            Lobbying is corruption, and it always help the privileged ones against the common interest. It's the way to destroy a level field.

        • by KingSkippus (799657) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:09PM (#40068829) Homepage Journal

          The system is rigged to prevent any change by average people and you know it. Money buys you access, access buys you laws. Period.

          It is rigged. How do you think it got that way? Because people didn't care.

          Is it beyond all hope? Depends. What are you going to do to change it?

          Oh, right. Nothing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mhajicek (1582795)
            There is nothing any reasonable person can do to change it, unless you have a miracle plan that you'd care to share. At his point, one cannot attain significant public office without "playing the game". The media is controlled, the voting machines are controlled, and the lawmakers are controlled. The time for working within the system has passed.
            • by Sarten-X (1102295)

              So play the game, then... Go get your name on the ballot, and run for public office. Stick to your morals, refuse corruption, and play the politics game. Stand in awe as someone disagrees with you, and accuses you of rigging the polls. Hang your head as your opponent parades around that big mistake from college, and try to talk your way avoid talking to that longtime friend who's now asking you out to lunch to catch up and discuss that upcoming bill...

              The real political game is more complicated than any con

              • by Shadow99_1 (86250) <theshadow99@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:22PM (#40069765)

                The 'game' of politics is corruption. It's also in knowing the right people and presenting the 'correct' image. Not religious? Not going to get elected in the US (this is statistically true even other non-religious people won't vote for you which makes no sense, and it can actually keep you from getting on the ballot). Not a democrat or republican? Then not much chance to get on the ballot for any state or federal offices in many states. Local office? County office? Probably, but you don't have much authority at those levels.

          • by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:04PM (#40069547) Journal

            The system is rigged to prevent any change by average people and you know it. Money buys you access, access buys you laws. Period.

            It is rigged. How do you think it got that way?

            By a problem in the design of the US election system combined with having a large country. The primary problem in the design is that there's a first-past-the-post election system combined with simple plurality voting. This leads to very heavy strategic voting ("Don't vote for a third party or your vote is wasted") locking in a bi-partisan situation (and, through "Attitudes follows behavior", mentality). A secondary problem is the use of campaign contributions for the main thrust of political campaigning; this leads to politicians being dependent on contributors to make the cut.

            This means that for areas where people do not strongly care, the parties will not risk offending the contributors, as that may lead to the loss of the next election.

            Having a large country strongly compounds that. If you have a country of three million people, an industry can spend 2 million in lobbying to do something that takes one dollar from each citizen, and make a million - 50% return on investment. In a country with 300 million, they can spend 200 million for the same law and get the same return on investment.

            An individual citizen's relative voice scales the opposite way.

            This makes a 100x difference in size into a 10,000x difference in relative influence. There's a couple of factors that bring these relative factors back a little bit - primarily, the time of politicians are limited, so you can't apply 100x more lobbying expense effectively in convincing people, and people get demotivated by being such a small cog, so the people that *do* have motivation have more access than they proportionally should. Also, much of the money goes to advertising, and that has some proportionality to the number of people reached; though there is a large fixed base.

            But overall, these things taken together makes it hard to get influence. Things have to really enrage people to get them blocked if there's "bipartisan support".

            Because people didn't care.

            People didn't care because they feel like they have no chance of actually changing things - and unless there's work to fix the system, they're often right.

            Is it beyond all hope? Depends. What are you going to do to change it?

            Oh, right. Nothing.

            I try to convince people that they need to hit the hydra at the base: Election reform. By informing people about it. (I can't vote in the US, and my care for the US internal politics is to a large degree compassion - I think the US people deserve a system of government that isn't unduly influenced by corporations.)

          • by SeaFox (739806)

            The system is rigged to prevent any change by average people and you know it. Money buys you access, access buys you laws. Period.

            It is rigged. How do you think it got that way? Because people didn't care.

            By "people" you mean the ones in power who didn't have the moral fiber to refuse the lobbyists' money to start with because they were elected to represent their constituents and not corporations. But they didn't care, it was just the entire basis of their jobs.

        • by SuperTechnoNerd (964528) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:06PM (#40069569)
          If someone stole and destroyed my $20,0000 car, and I sued him for 4.7 Million, do you think a court would award me such damages? No, the would laugh me out of court.. So how is it that 30 songs is worth over a half a million? And this is fair and reasonable? Some one please explain it to me..

          The man is correct: "Money buys you access, access buys you laws."
          • by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:15PM (#40069685)

            If someone stole and destroyed my $20,0000 car, and I sued him for 4.7 Million, do you think a court would award me such damages? No, the would laugh me out of court.. So how is it that 30 songs is worth over a half a million? And this is fair and reasonable? Some one please explain it to me..

            To bring the money into perspective, in the widely reported Apple vs. Psystar, Psystar was ordered to pay $30,000 for making about 800 illegal copies of MacOS X for commercial gain. I think the software was sold for $129 a piece at that time. So $675,000 for an unknown number of copies of 30 songs that can be bought for $0.99 each seems a bit exaggerated in comparison.

        • I agree with you. The "system" is designed to fail. Just a distraction to make people believe they live in a democracy, when in fact they live in a plutocracy.

          But just go to the streets is not enough to change that. It is necessary to kill the plutocrats as the French did a few years ago in a certain French Revolution.
      • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:11PM (#40068859)

        What constitutes unconstitutional is relatively narrowly defined. Tenenbaum violated laws that have been on the books, in one shape or form, for centuries and are expressly blessed by the constitution. He did so knowingly, willingly, and unnecessarily

        He's not upset because he thinks the law is unconstitutional. He's upset that the penalty was $600k+ for downloading 30 songs for personal use. Common sense would tell you that is unreasonable and might go against the 8th amendment against "excessive fines."

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          People need to understand the points of this case before trying to discuss it.

          When the plaintiff replies "yes" when asked "Mr. Tenenbaum, on the stand now are you now admitting liability for downloading and distributing all 30 sound recordings that are at issue and listed on Exhibits 55 and 56 of the exhibits?", the distribution liability becomes the biggest dick in his ass.

          This was never about downloading for personal use.

          It's also interesting to note that the original Judge who tried to rule on the consti

          • It's also interesting to note that the original Judge who tried to rule on the constitutionality of the monetary award is now retired and is a colleague of Tenenbaums defence attorney...

            Not that unusual, though. Boston has more law schools (and more universities) per square mile than any other place in the world. For a big town, it's an awfully small town here.

      • While I agree with you in principle, there's a fair argument that this case *does* fall under those limited protections. It's fairly well established that there are constitutional limits on statutory damages to prevent abuse, and there are reasonable arguments that this case falls beyond that. No reason not to work both angles.

      • The Supreme Court's job is not to protect you from the democratic system.

        I now understand why the Court refused cert on Citizens United.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:15PM (#40068911)

        constitutional mandate

        There is no constitutional mandate for a copyright system. The constitution expressly allows such a system, but there is no requirement that congress create such a thing, nor is there any requirement that it look like our copyright system.

      • by medv4380 (1604309) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:23PM (#40069027)

        Eight Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

        It is clearly not "narrowly" defined. Excessive is an abstract concept which is intended for the Supreme Court to define since $100 would be excessive when the amendment was written but a $100 now would be reasonable.
        Tenenbaum being aware that a large fine maybe imposed is irrelevant.
        The suffering of others is irrelevant.
        The Supreme Court's job is in fact to protect you from the democratic republic that we have. It is un-American to think otherwise. The entire system is intended as a System of Checks and Balances to protect the People, or did you fail your High School Government and Civics classes. The Hypocrisy of a Nat like you lecturing other about how the US Government works is Sickening, and that you would be willing to exerciser their right to vote and yet be so ignorant of how the system is supposed to work.
        The only reason that the Supreme Court shouldn't have listened to it has to do with why they've never come out with a clear ruling dealing with the patent mess, and that is that they've clearly stated that they want the Legislature to fix the mess.

    • by Jerry (6400) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:18PM (#40068957)

      You can understand now how all those "Trips for judges" paid off for the RIAA and other corporate slim.

      It's an old report, and things have gotten MUCH worse, but from the 2000 report on the Tripsforjudges website:
      "The framers and attenders to our judicial system have taken many steps to help foster the notion of the integrity of its judges. Some relate to smoke and mirrors --the high bench, the black robe, the "all rise" custom when the judge enters the room. Some, like life tenure for federal judges, the codes of conduct promulgated for all judges, are intended to create the climate for integrity.

      All of those steps become meaningless when private interests are allowed to wine and dine judges at fancy resorts under the pretext of "educating" them about complicated issues. If an actual party to a case took the judge to a resort, all expenses paid, shortly before the case was heard, it would not matter what they talked about. Even if all they discussed were their prostate problems, the judge and the party would be perceived to be acting improperly. The conduct is no less reprehensible when an interest group substitutes for the party to the case, and the format for discussion is seminars on environmental policy, or law and economics, or the "takings clause" of the Constitution."

      Greed and corruption by our elected officials are destroying the infrastructure and liberties of this country. When the votes of millions can be negated by a "campaign donation" of millions voting because useless. The John Edwards court case illustrates the kinds of folks who are running for office these days, and the corporate donations are making it impossible for any without corporate funding to get elected.

      All three branches of our system are corrupted and broken, and thus the "checks and balances" are broken as well. Both political parties are cesspools of greed. It is essentially impossible for a citizen to redress grievances, and those using civil disobedience to do so have a Socialist agenda as their goal, not the restoration of Constitutional principles, and all that really needs to be done is to shut down corporate (private or public, or 5013c) influence in politics.

  • That the court doesn't even see that there's a constitutional issue here underscores just how out of touch this court is. Probably better not to get a decision, as it would almost certainly be in favor of the RIAA and extremely punative rewards.

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      Just out of curiosity, are you arguing that the fine is just too excessive, or are you also arguing that there shouldn't be a fine at all?

    • Re:Clueless court (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elbonia (2452474) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:58PM (#40068703)
      He admitted to copying and sharing hundreds of songs according to the article. His defense was that the U.S. Copyright Act is unconstitutional which is obviously a ridiculous and a desperate act which is why the court didn't listen to it.

      The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. ------Article I, Section 8, Clause 8

      What is exactly is there to listen to when the Constitution makes it clear Congress has the power to enforce copyright?

      • He admitted to copying and sharing hundreds of songs according to the article. His defense was that the U.S. Copyright Act is unconstitutional which is obviously a ridiculous and a desperate act which is why the court didn't listen to it.

        The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. ------Article I, Section 8, Clause 8

        What is exactly is there to listen to when the Constitution makes it clear Congress has the power to enforce copyright?

        Music is neither Science, nor is it useful. Are you sure you weren't looking for a different passage?

        • Music is neither Science, nor is it useful. Are you sure you weren't looking for a different passage?

          I don't think you understant what the word useful can mean. Music has a use. It can be used to provide enjoyment.

          being of use or service; serving some purpose; advantageous, helpful, or of good effect: a useful member of society.

          of practical use, as for doing work; producing material results; supplying common needs: the useful arts; useful work.

          • Music is neither Science, nor is it useful. Are you sure you weren't looking for a different passage?

            On the contrary, music is science. Or, was, under the definition of the term "science" in use when the Constitution was drafted. From the Latin "scientia" or "knowledge, "science" included any literary or artistic works by authors, in contrast to the "useful arts" which included utilitarian constructions by inventors.

      • Re:Clueless court (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:06PM (#40068799) Journal

        What is exactly is there to listen to when the Constitution makes it clear Congress has the power to enforce copyright?

        Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

        That's what there is to listen to. Unless you're arguing that the Copyright Clause supercedes the Bill of Rights. In that case, why should the 5th and 6th amendments apply either? Are you sure you want to go down this road?

        • "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

          No kidding.

          Lets do a little math. According to Florida statues (random state for the purposes of argument), fines are roughly equivalent at a rate of 1 year/$10,000 (averaged various penalties). That is to say that in the state of Florida, you can be sentenced to either a year in jail, or a $10,000 dollar fine on average, based on the crime. The other common sentencing standard is $500, or two mo

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        is a financial death sentence really a reasonable punishment? This is worse than many violent criminals get and he will likely live off the grid now and not pay any taxes so the US Gov also loses.
  • Oil the ol' gun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:45PM (#40068515)

    Owing ~$700,000 is like a life sentence of servitude towards RIAA and its CEO/managers.

    It will take the rest of this man's life to earn the money & pay it off. And slaves have a right to terminate their masters in order to regain their natural right to freedom. IMHO. "From time to time the Tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is freedom's natural fertilizer." - Thomas Jefferson

     

    • Slavery is against the law. It stinks that the recording industry can claim absurd penalties like this, but Tenenbaum can at least get a court to declare bankruptcy and move on with his life. (IANAL, somebody correct me if I'm wrong.)
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Instead of murder I just suggest he move out of the country.

      While it might make for nice theatrics, advocating murder because you disagree with the outcome of a court case is not right.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        A couple of points:
        1) Murder is generally the only way to get real change accomplished. Look at how America's Founders went about changing things, successfully: a bunch of people were killed. That's what happens in revolutionary wars. However, this is an extremely risky path to take; if you succeed, you're a "freedom fighter", "revolutionary", and become a "Founding Father", revered for centuries afterward. If you fail, however, you're a "terrorist", a "separatist", a "traitor", and you get executed for

  • The lawyers got their "cause" and Mr. Tenenbaum got screwed.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@uberm00. n e t> on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:52PM (#40068597) Homepage Journal

    'Tenenbaum is just entering the job market and can't pay the penalty.'

    That's what garnishments-for-life are for. Talk to some divorced fathers.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Fathers generally have to pay for 18 years, not life. Also that money pays for their children needs, not some recording execs vacations.

      • At least in Arizona, a divorced woman over 50 can get "spousal maintenance" for the rest of her life, not revisable due to circumstances (e.g. unemployment of the ex-husband, including retirement or disability.) Which might explain some of the 70-something greeters at Wal-Mart.
        • At least in Arizona, a divorced woman over 50 can get "spousal maintenance" for the rest of her life, not revisable due to circumstances (e.g. unemployment of the ex-husband, including retirement or disability.) Which might explain some of the 70-something greeters at Wal-Mart.

          Correction: a divorced person over 50 can get spousal maintenance for the rest of his or her life... provided they were married for a sufficiently long time and one of them was a stay-at-home caretaker who gave up career and/or education to take care of the other's children. The statutes are gender-neutral. That the person receiving alimony tends to be female is a result of the gender wage gap and institutionalized sexism that says that women are the ones who give up careers to stay home with kids. Hopefull

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:55PM (#40068653)

    Looking for facts on the original infractions, I googled and found this [businessweek.com]. An excerpt:

    Suing Tenenbaum were Sony Corp. (6758) and its Arista Records, Warner Music Group’s Warner Bros. and Atlantic labels and Vivendi SA’s (VIV) Universal Music Group. They said he made songs available on various sites including Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa and LimeWire, distributing songs to millions of other people. He continued after being sent a letter from the record companies, and blamed sisters, houseguests and even burglars, the companies said.

    “Tenenbaum undertook these actions even though he was fully aware that they were illegal,” the record companies said. “In fact, his own father warned him that individuals were being sued for such conduct but he did not stop.”

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:53PM (#40069403)

      Looking for facts on the original infractions, I googled and found this. An excerpt:

      Suing Tenenbaum were Sony Corp. (6758) and its Arista Records, Warner Music Group's Warner Bros. and Atlantic labels and Vivendi SA's (VIV) Universal Music Group. They said he...

      You realize you are quoting the plantif, right? Those aren't "facts" those are the words chosen by a multi-million dollar PR company to make the guy look as least sympathetic as possible. They even tried to make him look like a bad son disobeying his father, it is hard to get more manipulative than that.

    • ...you expect us to feel bad for Sony, the company that knowingly sent malware to its customers? You expect us to feel bad for any of the recording industry companies, who do everything they can to deny payment to the artists whose music they distribute?

      Maybe you have not noticed, but he was a college student who downloaded some music. You expect us not to have sympathy for him? He is starting out in life with as much debt as someone who bought three houses, and that is for sharing just a few hours of
  • On the bright side, this method creates destitute and angry people who have their hostile intentions directed toward the recording industry. Hopefully there won't need to be so many of them created before the natural outcome ensues. Hopefully I won't be the next one.
  • by 0x537461746943 (781157) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:02PM (#40068761)
    That fine is way out of line from what a person could ever pay back. I can't even save enough for my 3 kids to go to college let alone 675,000. I can understand they would want some amount of penalty but that is way out of line. Hmmm.... I wonder how much the judges get every year salary. Maybe that is the disconnect. They think the person can just save for 5 years and pay it back. We need a part of the government that is working for the people to look for punishments that are way out of line for the crime. Why don't we have a part of government that does this? They would have to not be allowed to accept third party donations of any kind. Congress is supposed to be doing this job but based on verdicts like this it is obvious they are failing us.
    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      Can this ridiculous debt be wiped out in bankruptcy, or is it exempted from bankruptcy proceedings? Even having to deal with a bankruptcy on your credit report for 7 years is pretty harsh for the violation he's found guilty of, but having your wages garnished for life is beyond the pale. Of course, that's what they were hoping for. They needed a poster-boy so nobody would ever reject a settlement offer and go to trial again. Spreading fear was their mission.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:03PM (#40068777)
    The jury awarded the ridiculous damages. You should be asking what is wrong with ordinary Americans that they can so easily be persuaded that inordinate punishments are acceptable. At least in Europe such things can be challenged under human rights legislation, which is presumably one reason why the media companies* in the UK are anti-EU; it has some weird idea that law should be on the side of ordinary people.

    *(Barclay Brothers, Murdochs, Rothermeres.)

  • by overshoot (39700) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:08PM (#40068817)

    Tenenbaum is just entering the job market and can't pay the penalty

    Surely he has organs he could sell.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:29PM (#40069103)

    Seeing as how the value was placed on the content that was distributed, all he has to do is make a material trade of something of similar value. Create 30 original recordings that have not been distributed to anyone at all and hand them over as fair trade value. As these are original and have not been distributed at all they would actually have higher value thant he songs he was found to have distributed as those songs were already available to many people.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson

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