A Former Kazaa User Has To Pay A $675,000 Fine For Sharing 31 Songs Back In 2005
Remember Kazaa? Yeah, you do. If you’re a fan of music and even just a little bit tech savvy, you no doubt had Kazaa running on your computer 24/7 back in the mid-2000s. Back before iTunes was as big as it is today when services like Spotify didn’t exist, Kazaa, Napster, and other peer-to-peer file-sharing services were the go-to services for music lovers. Sure, they were 100 percent illegal. But, for music fans, they were like a whole new world. Suddenly, you didn’t have to spend every last penny you had on music. You could download as much of it as you wanted—or, rather, as much of it as your computer could hold—directly from other people.
Again, though, services like Kazaa and Napster were technically illegal. So, at one point, the Recording Industry Association of America started filing lawsuits against some of the people who used them. One of the people who was hit with a lawsuit was college student Joel Tenenbaum, who was sued by the RIAA for copyright infringement for sharing 31 songs through Kazaa. And, somewhat surprisingly, the lawsuit they filed against him ended up getting taken all the way to trial in 2009 where he was hit with a $675,000 fine for his crime. It was later reduced to just 10 percent of that amount (that’s $67,500 for those of you who don’t have a calculator handy) but, after the RIAA took that decision to appeals court, it was again reinstated to $675,000. And, it was set to make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court this month for a final ruling. However, it seems the Supreme Court is too busy to hear the case right now, so they’ve decided to tell Tenenbaum that he’s on the hook for the $675,000 fine—no more appeals allowed.
Not for nothing, but doesn’t that seem a bit excessive? After all, if we’re being honest here, there were plenty of people out there using Kazaa. So, to force one kid out there who was randomly singled out by the RIAA to pay for everyone’s crimes seems crazy. It also serves absolutely no purpose. At this point, it’s not like Kazaa is where everyone is illegally downloading their music. So, Tenenbaum’s case isn’t going to deter people out there from file sharing. If anything, it’s going to make people hate the RIAA even more and find alternate ways to download music.
Basically, this entire case seems bogus. We don’t know what kind of life Tenenbaum is leading right now and how much he’s suffered as a result of the large fine. But, he shouldn’t be forced to pay back a fine for something that almost everyone with a cable modem and a PC was doing back in 2005. Especially when he was only sharing 31 songs and wasn’t making a major impact on the profits of the RIAA in the first place.