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Federal judge finds student liable in music file-sharing case

[JURIST] A federal judge ruled Thursday night that Boston University graduate student Joel Tenenbaum [defense website] is liable for illegally downloading music. Four record companies, including Sony BMG and Warner Brothers [corporate websites], brought suit against Tenenbaum in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website], accusing him of illegally downloading 30 songs [complaint, PDF] in violation of copyright laws. Tenenbaum admitted to downloading hundreds of songs, and Judge Nancy Gertner directed the jury to consider only the amount of damages [Boston Globe report]. The jury began deliberations Friday. Tenenbaum faces a fine [AP report] of $750 to $30,000 per infringement, or as much as $150,000 if the infringement is found to have been willful.

In the only other file-sharing case to go to trial, Jammie Thomas-Rasset was found liable and fined $192 million last month [JURIST report]. The suit against Tenenbaum may be the last to be brought to trial, as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) [organization website] in December decided to discontinue pursuing [JURIST report] those accused of illegal file-sharing in court. The RIAA has indicated that it will work with internet service providers to identify and then deny service to those who infringe copyrights. The RIAA has also sent letters [press release] to thousands of individuals with an offer to settle infringement claims out of court.

11:30 PM ET - The jury ordered Tenenbaum to pay $675,000.

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