U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, the federal judge who presided over the recent file-sharing lawsuit against graduate student Joel Tenenbaum by the RIAA has called on the US Congress to reform the copyright law.
In a decision issued Monday, Judge Gertner stated “As this court has previously noted, it is very, very concerned that there is a deep potential for injustice in the Copyright Act as it is currently written. It urges — no implores — Congress to amend the statute to reflect the realities of file sharing… there is something wrong with a law that routinely threatens teenagers and students with astronomical penalties for an activity whose implications they may not have fully understood.”
The US Copyright Law currently provides for damages ranging from $750 to $150,000 per infringement, and this summer, a Boston jury under Ms. Gertner found Tenenbaum guilty of using peer-to-peer software to share 30 recordings and ordered him to pay $22,500 per track, i.e. a total of $675,000.
So there you have it. A judge noting that the law is an ass.
Meanwhile, in an interesting development, it transpires that the Canadian recording companies that lobbied so hard for stiffer penalties may owe royalties of perhaps billions to song-writers and artists for using songs in albums and compilations. See Prof. Michael Geist’s blog: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4596/135/