Admitted file-swapper begs Supreme Court for help

19 05 2012
“Joel Tenenbaum is a fine and courageous young man who has just received his doctorate in statistical physics,” begins Tenenbaum’s recent plea to the Supreme Court (PDF). He is also an admitted file-swapper. At trial, a jury of his peers decided that he should pay the record labels $675,000 in statutory damages.

Tenenbaum’s lawyer, well-known Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, wants the Supremes to understand that the industry’s “litigation assault” on people like Tenenbaum is “procedurally unfair and profoundly unethical.” Such damage awards, Nesson continues, seek to:

punish [Tenenbaum] beyond any rational measure of the damage he conceivably caused, not for the purpose of recovering compensation for actual damage caused by him, nor for the primary purpose of deterring him from further copyright infringement, but for the ulterior purpose of creating an urban legend so frightening to children using the Internet, and so frightening for parents and teachers of students using the Internet, that they will somehow reverse the tide of the digital future.

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