$675,000 music piracy fee stands, as Supreme Court passes on case


Last week we reported that the Supreme Court of the United States had been asked to take up the case of Joel Tenenbaum, who owes Sony BMG Music Entertainment a thunderous $675,000 in damages for uploading 30 songs to a bundle of peer-to-peer file-sharing networks when he was a student at Boston University. And now we’ve found out that, well, that’s just not gonna happen.

Today, SCOTUS denied (pdf) Tenenbaum’s “write of certiorani,” which means that his request to appeal previous court decisions before the Court was turned down. SCOTUS supplied no reason for the denial.

Tenenbaum’s failure comes after nearly 10 years of fighting against the $675,000 fine. In the original lawsuit, brought forth by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on behalf of a number of labels, the jury had set the price of Tenebaum’s piracy at $22,500 for each song — a fairly modest price, considering the Copyright Act allows for damages to range from $750 all the way up to $150,000.

An appellate court judge later hacked Tenenbaum’s fine down to just $67,500, or $2,250 for each of the 30 uploaded songs, deciding that the Copyright Act’s allowance of such high fines were “unconstitutionally excessive.” Then, last year, another court reinstated the original fine.

The Obama administration had argued against U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner’s decision to reduce Tenebaum’s fine, saying that she had gone too far in questioning the constitutionality of U.S. copyright law. Reducing the maximum $150,000 fee allowed by the Copyright Act would have nullified it’s intended purpose, the administration argued, saying that such a high cost was necessary to deter people from pirating music and movies.

As Wired reports, the RIAA has consistently argued that judges do not have the right to reduce copyright infringement damages. Had the Supreme Court taken up Tenebaum’s request for an appeal, we may have found out whether or not that was true. Now, not so much.

The RIAA has sued more than 12,000 people for illegally sharing music. Only two of those have ever gone to trial, with the rest settled out of court. However, the RIAA  has recently shifted its anti-piracy tactics. Rather than sue everybody who uploads or downloads a song, the RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have begun to work with Internet service providers to develop a system that they hope will deter illegal file sharing by threatening to disrupt users Internet access and bandwidth speeds. That plan, commonly known as “six strikes,” was originally set to launch by this July, but has since been pushed back indefinitely due to lack of consensus among interested parties.


Brian Eno sets out to change music (again) with Bloom: 10 World

We always felt that Bloom was a musical system that could be developed further -- it was as if we’d built a CD player and only ever released one CD. For this release, we’ve created ten new worlds, starting with a reimagined version of…
Movies & TV

From 'GLOW' to 'Haunting of Hill House,' these are the best Netflix Originals

Netflix's stable of content has grown quickly, and the streaming service now boasts dozens of shows produced in-house. Looking for the cream of the crop? These are our picks for the best Netflix Original series.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Home Theater

Plex amps up its music offerings with tight integration with Tidal

Plex may not be the first platform you think of for music streaming, but that may be about to change. The popular media server has added Tidal to its growing list of features, letting Plex users integrate their collections with Tidal's.
Smart Home

Apple Music hits the Amazon Echo. Is the cold war over?

It's about time. Amazon and Apple seem to have called a truce as Amazon agrees to add Apple Music to an ever-growing line of streaming music services on its Echo smart speakers that includes competitors like Spotify.

Enthusiast alert: Get up to 67% off Polk Audio speakers at Adorama

Any time is a good time to upgrade your home theater sound system, which makes Adorama's Polk LSI Blowout Weekend Sale particularly tempting. Adorama has discounts up to 67 percent on Polk Audio's top-of-the-line LSiM Series for…
Home Theater

An acclaimed Apple analyst says the new AirPods are coming in 2019

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.

You may soon be able to listen to your own songs on Spotify’s Android app

If you love Spotify's streaming, but also have a large collection of niche music, then it can be hard to marry your two passions. Thankfully, Spotify appears to be testing the ability to import local songs to its Android app.

Block out the sun and drown out the haters with Bose’s new AR sunglasses

Bose has announced its quirkiest listening device yet, a pair of headphone-integrated sunglasses that allow you to meander the brightest places with your favorite tunes in tow. Called the Frames, the glasses will sport 3.5 hours of battery.
Home Theater

Spotify Wrapped reveals rad facts about your musical tastes and habits

The website may be a bit tough to find at first, but Spotify Wrapped tells you awesome facts about your year in listening. From how many minutes you spent jamming out to your top artists, and beyond, there's a lot to dig into.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.

From Paul McCartney to Mariah Carey, this is the best holiday music

Whether you're a fan of classic jazz standards or modern R&B masterpieces, there's something for everyone on our playlist of the best holiday music. Pour some eggnog and curl up by the fire, this one is sure to get you in the holiday…
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.