ssor firesNov 17, 7:22 AM (ET)
back at song- swapp ing lawsu its
N (AP) - The music indus try' s court room campa ign again st peopl e who share songs
onlin e is comin g under count eratt ack.
rd Law Schoo l profe ssor has launc hed a const ituti onal assau lt again st a feder al copyr ight law at the
heart of the indus try' s aggre ssive strat egy, which has wrung payme nts from thous ands of
song- swapp ers since 2003.
ssor, Charl es Nesso, has come to the defen n se of a Bosto n Unive rsity gradu ate
stude nt targe ted in one of the music indus try' s lawsu its. By takin g on the case, Nesso n hopes to
chall enge the basis for the suit, and all other s like it.
n argue s that the Digit al Theft and Copyr Deter rence ight Damag of 1999 is uncon es Impro vemen t
Act stitu tiona l becau se it effec tivel y lets a priva te group - the Recor ding
Indus, or RIAA - carry try Assoc iatio n of Ameri ca out civil enfor cemen t of a crimi nal law. He also says
the music indus try group abuse d the legal proce ss by brand ishin g the prosp ects of lengt hy and costl y
lawsu its in an effor t to intim idate peopl e into settl ing cases out of court .
n, the found er of Harva rd's Berkm an Cente r for Inter net and Socie ty, said in an inter view that his goal is to
" turn the court s away from allow ing thems elves to be used like a low- grade colle ction agenc y.
n is best known for defen ding the man who leake d the Penta gon Paper s and for consu lting on the case again st
chemi cal compa nies that was depic ted in the film "A Civil Actio n." His chall enge again st the music
label s, made in U.S. Distr ict Court in Bosto n, is one of the most deter mined attem pts to derai l the
indus try' s flurr y of litig ation .
ative has gener ated more than 30, 000 compl aints again st peopl e accus ed of shari ng songs
onlin e. Only one case has gone to trial ; nearl y every one else settl ed out of court to avoid damag es and limit the
attor ney fees and legal costs that escal ate over time.
n inter vened after a feder al judge in Bosto n asked his offic e to repre sent Joel Tenen baum, who
was among dozen s of peopl e who appea red in court in RIAA cases witho ut legal help.
year- old Tenen baum is a gradu ate stude nt accus ed by the RIAA of downl oadin g at least seven songs
and makin g 816 music files avail able for distr ibuti on on the Kazaa file- shari ng netwo rk in 2004. He
offer ed to settl e the case for $ 500, but music compa nies rejec ted that, deman ding $ 12, 000.
al Theft Deter rence Act, the law at issue in the case, sets damag es of $750 to $ 30, 000 for each
infri ngeme nt, and as much as $ 150, 000 for a willf ul viola tion. That means Tenen baum could be force d to
pay $1 milli on if it is deter mined that his alleg ed actio ns were willf