Mass Law Blog

Tenenbaum Final Judgment

by | Dec 8, 2009

Update: Link to First Circuit’s Decision Rejecting Constitutional Grounds for Reducing Statutory Damages, issued September 16, 2011.


Final judgment in Sony v. Tenenbaum entered by Judge Nancy Gertner today.  The 30 day appeal clock starts to run.  Should be interesting to see what the First Circuit does with this one, although I suspect that the betting is heavy in favor of quick affirmance.

A few choice quotes from Judge Gertner’s opinion, which is provided in full below on

“the Court, deeply concerned by the rash of file-sharing lawsuits, the imbalance of resources between the parties, and the upheaval of norms of behavior brought on by the Internet, did everything in its power to permit Tenebaum to make his best case for fair use.…The Court did what it could to focus the issue, notwithstanding what can only be described as a truly chaotic defense.”

Tenenbaum “tailor[ed] his fair use defense to suggest a modest exception to copyright protections,” he “mounted a broadside attack that would excuse all file sharing for private enjoyment. It is a version of fair use so broad that it would swallow the copyright protections that Congress created, defying both statute and precedent.”

“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 injury to the copyright holder may be real, and even substantial, but, under the statute, the record companies do not even have to prove actual damage. “Repeatedly, as new developments have occurred in this country, it has been Congress that has fashioned the new rules that new technology made necessary.”  … It is a responsibility that Congress should not take lightly in the face of this litigation and the thousands of suits like it.”

The full opinion, below.

Tenenbaum Final Judgment

And Judge Gertner’s opinion rejecting Joel Tenenbaum’s fair use defense:

Sony v. Tenenbaum Fair Use Decision