In the mid-2000s, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) went on a rather misguided witch-hunt, filing lawsuits against individual file-sharers seemingly at random, despite winning a combined nine-figure settlement from the main culprits: the peer-to-peer networks themselves, Napster and Kazaa.
Back in 2005, then-college student Joel Tenenbaum was busted for sharing 31 songs via Kazaa. In the seven years since, his case—one of only two of its kind to go to trial—has been decided and appealed countless times. Federal copyright law mandates a penalty in the range of $750 to $150,000 per infringement, so a jury in 2009 somehow decided upon $22,500 per infringement, saddling Tenenbaum with a $675,000 fine. It was then reduced to a total fine of $67,500 by a district court judge. And then an appeals court overturned that decision, reinstating the $675,000 fine.
Finally, the case was due to be tried in front of the Supreme Court this month. Except it wasn’t—because they decided it wasn’t worth their time. So, the fine sticks. For 31 songs.
[via New York Times]