As previously discussed on this blog, last year the First Circuit held that the jury verdict for $675,000 in statutory damages against graduate student and file sharer Joel Tenenbaum should not have been reduced to $67,500 by District Court Judge Nancy Gertner on constitutional grounds. The case was remanded for consideration of Tenenbaum’s motion for remittitur, and, if that was denied, for fresh consideration of the constitutionality of the award.
In light of Judge Gertner’s retirement, the remanded case went to Judge Rya Zobel. Judge Zobel was not a sympathetic ear for Tenenbaum: she denied both the motion for remittitur and the constitutional challenge. She implied strongly that Tenenbaum was actually somewhat fortunate, in that the award was at the low end of the available statutory damages applicable to willful infringers, and even “below the statutory maximum for non-willful infringement.” Finding that Tenenbaum had infringed on a large scale after repeated notice, had destroyed evidence of his activities, and had admittedly lied in discovery, she concluded that there was “ample evidence of willfulness and the need for deterrence based on Tenenbaum’s blatant contempt of warnings and apparent disregard for the consequences of his actions.” The wording of the opinion leaves little doubt that even a larger jury award might well have withstood challenge.