Archives: Statutory Damages

Written by: Susan Neuberger Weller

A federal jury in New York has found Agence France-Presse and Getty Images Inc. willful in their infringement of Daniel Morel’s copyrights in eight photographs of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and ordered them to pay damages of $1.2 million. The court had already found AFP  liable for direct copyright infringement on summary judgment, but sent to the jury for disposition the issue of whether Getty’s affirmative defenses vitiated any liability for infringement. The jury was also asked to decide whether any infringement by either Defendant was willful. In addition, the jury awarded Morel $20,000 after finding that the two Defendants also violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Continue Reading Willful Infringement of Copyright in Haitian Earthquake Photographs Cost AFP and Getty $1.2 Million

Written by: Susan Neuberger Weller

 The Tenebaum copyright infringement file sharing case, about which we first reported in an earlier blog, reached another milestone this week when the First Circuit upheld the jury’s $675, 000 damages award. Tenenbaum had been found liable for illegally downloading 30 songs and a jury awarded statutory damages of $22, 500 for each song infringed. The award was appealed on grounds that it was so large that it violated Tenenbaum’s constitutional right to due process of law.

 The court analyzed the function and purpose for statutory damages under the Copyright Act, which are to provide “reparation for injury” and  “to discourage wrongful conduct.” The court rejected Tenebaum’s argument that the amount of the award violated due process because it was not tied to the actual injury that he caused, stating that such an argument disregarded the intended deterrent effect of statutory damages. Moreover, the award of $22, 500 per song was only 15% of the maximum award possible for willful copyright infringement and even less than the maximum award for non-willful violations. Accordingly, the court held that the jury’s award did not violate the Constitutional right to due process and the judgment was affirmed.

Unless this decision is appealed to the US Supreme Court, this dispute is concluded. It is unlikely the Court would review any such appeal since review of similar cases have previously been declined.

Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

Following up on my post on the subject, I had the opportunity to speak with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN regarding Song BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum. In the brief interview, I explain the background of the case and why Tenenbaum ended up being ordered to pay such a hefty price for the songs he copied. Continue Reading Video Interview: Discussing Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum with LXBN TV

Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

The August 23, 2012 decision in Song BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, the most recent in this extended litigation, leaves no doubt that individuals who download music and distribute it without proper authorization through peer-to-peer file sharing sites are subject to liability for copyright infringement and payment of substantial statutory damages for doing so. This case began in 2007, when a graduate student, Joel Tenenbaum, was sued by a number of record labels for downloading and distributing 30 songs using file-sharing services like Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa and LimeWire. After a five-day trial in 2009, the jury found Tenenbaum liable for infringing the copyrights in the 30 songs and awarded statutory damages of $22, 500 for each song. After an appeal and remand, the verdict and damages award was allowed to stand, and Mr. Tenenbaum currently owes $675,000 in statutory damages. So how did the jury come up with the $22, 500 as the amount of damages for downloading and distributing one song? Continue Reading Are You Willing to Pay $22,500 to Download A Song?