The End of the Line

Friday, July 26, 2013


In the early 2000s, the Recording Industry Association of America began sending pre-lawsuit letters to thousands of people accused of illegally sharing music files. Most of the people who received those letters decided to settle for a few thousand dollars rather than going to court.  One of the people who didn't settle, is still in court today. OTM producer Chris Neary tells the story of Joel Tenenbaum and the $675,000 judgement against him.

Beck - Defriended


Judge Nancy Gertner, Charles Nesson, Ben Sheffner and Joel Tenenbaum


Chris Neary

Comments [5]


I am looking for more information about law. I have already looked at and some other sites. Do you know where I can find more info? I am hopeless with law so I need to understand it in its most basic form.

Jan. 24 2014 04:31 PM
B Truesdale from California

Thank you for doing a piece on piracy and copyright infringement.

I hoped to hear something about Getty Images, a company that typically demands thousands from small users for inadvertent unlicensed use of stock photos.

These pictures may have no identification or watermarks. People click and copy them onto their websites.

When my husband, an old-fashioned small-town veterinarian cherished by our community for nearly 40 years, was finally convinced to modernize and get on the web, a friend and fellow Kiwanis member prepared a small website for him.

Unknowingly, she included a Getty Images photo of a dog and cat.
Getty Images never sent a “soft” cease and desist letter. Just a demand for $1,175. A lot of money, but maybe not enough to justify hiring a lawyer and putting up a fight. It’s been happening for years. His case number is 1357624.

Interesting that Getty operates so effectively and lucratively under the radar.

I’m attaching a link that explains what they do.

Jul. 29 2013 01:55 PM

While I don't agree with the large fines imposed on the filesharers, I have to wonder if "paying what the damages are" is really a good principle, as well. For example, let's say that I steal something priced at $10 from a store. The store bought it for $5 and marked it up to $10. Let's say that they catch me. They drag me into court. They pay lawyers. Should I merely have to pay a fine of $5 (the cost of the loss to them)? If that's the case, then it would always be "worth it" to steal - afterall, I'm going to get away with it more than 90% of the time. And the other 10% of the time, I only have to pay $5 (the wholesale cost). This means I can expect to pay $5 in fines for every $100 worth of merchandise that I steal. (Plus, the store ends up having to spend a lot of time and money procecuting me, so they have a strong disincentive to ever attempt to prosecute anyone. At best, they "earn" $5 in fines but spend a lot more in time and money attempting to prosecute me.) Like I said before - the fines seem excessive, but it should also be mentioned that there are flaws in comparing "losses" to "the size of the fine" as if they should be 1:1. I don't know if it's correct, but I had heard a long time ago that stores go for a 7:1 ratio of fines to losses (so if you get caught stealing $10 worth of merchandise, you have to pay a $70 fine).

Jul. 28 2013 05:27 PM
Lambert Heenan from The Bronx

When did you record this story? It ended up with a throwaway comment about "a Chicago law firm" which was suing people over downloading of porn films. That surely is the infamous Prenda Law which has been eviscerated, as Popehat says, by the courts. This band of lawyers had been shown the door because of its dubious practices, and you should perhaps update your copyright story to reflect this.

Even Wikipedia is up to speed on the story...
and arstechnica

Jul. 28 2013 11:11 AM
Deepack Forshure from Mumbai, Indiana

The judgement is out of whack, but it's really so, so sad. Music should be free. So should legal representation and food and shelter. Poor little Joel.

Jul. 28 2013 10:41 AM

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