Student forced to pay $675,000 for illegal downloads

In July, a federal jury in Boston ordered Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University graduate student from Providence, R.I., to pay four record labels $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs.

Isn’t that a pretty big price tag for 30 songs? I think so.

But now it is getting worse for Tenenbaum. Now he is being forced to destroy the songs he obtained illegally.


He was also ordered not to take part in copyright violations in the future.


Of course, that isn’t the worst part. The record companies wanted U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner to impose and even harsher punishment on Tenenbaum for allegedly “encouraging people to visit a Swedish Web site where they can illegally download the songs he was sued for sharing,” according to an Associated Press report.

Luckily Gertner didn’t do anything about the Web site, primarily because Tenebaum said he didn’t have anything to do with the site and because, well, censoring Tenebaum’s criticism of the record companies would have been a huge violation of his First Amendment rights.

See, the record companies, who make millions from artists using their music to share their thoughts and opinions about everything under the sun, don’t understand what it means to have freedom of speech.

Weird, right?

I think so.

The record companies need to give it a rest. Sure, illegally downloading music isn’t right, but they need to focus there efforts elsewhere instead of going after some small fish that downloaded 30 songs.

But more importantly, it bothers me that the record companies are worried about criticism. Grow some thicker skin and do some studying of the U.S. Constitution.

What did they really win by suing this kid? They got some money, and they made him lose the songs he stole.

I bet the record company executives sleep better at night now.

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About toddvogts 773 Articles
My name is Todd Vogts. I am an assistant professor of media. I like the color green, riding my motorcycle, and being with my family and friends. A good book is a perfect companion for me any time, and I'm a published author and journalist. Visit my website at and follow me on Twitter at