Federal Judge Conflicted over Copyright Verdict

Paul Lilly

Upholding the law and agreeing with the law in principal are two different things, and sometimes they conflict. Just ask District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, who approved a $675,000 fine against a Boston student for illegal file sharing, but made clear that she was concerned about the fairness of current copyright laws, TGDaily reports.

The judge took issue with the "astronomical" penalties available to music companies, and though she ultimately ruled in their favor, she offered up some legal advice that may be applicable to the next file sharer who lands in court.

"The Court was prepared to consider a more expansive fair use argument than other courts have credited - perhaps one supported by facts specific to this individual and this unique period of rapid technological change," Gertner said in her ruling. But she went on to say that the defense took it too far by attempting to apply fair use to pretty much any circumstance.

Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University student, was found guilty earlier this year of illegally sharing 800 copyrighted songs and ordered to pay $22,500 for each. The law actually allows for up to $150,000 per track.

Image Credit: Flickr Joe Gratz

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