Boston student must pay RIAA $675K for 30 songs, Obama administration approves

The Obama administration supports the ruling that a Massachussetts student must pay $675,000 in damages to the RIAA for filesharing 30 songs. (via @seanbonner)


  1. That’s $22,500 per song. Most road musicians don’t make that in a year. The message here is that education does not pay.

  2. Unfortunately, when we all supported Obama, we forgot one very important thing: The Democrats receive huge support from the entertainment industry. Wasn’t one of Obama’s early appointments to the Justice Department a former lawyer for the RIAA?

    Don’t expect any help from the Dems. And, we all know that the Republicans stand strong with any corporation.

  3. Brazil is at least on the right side of the copyright wars but I don’t know how I’d make a living there.

  4. I’m not sure which is more appropriate:

    Plus ca CHANGE, plus c’est la meme chose.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

  5. Well, although I disagree with the verdict and the premise of the case, I think the executive branch should stick with executering and the judicial branch should stick with judiciratering.

  6. Paywalls keep the riff-raff out.
    I personally would like to be charged so much to view boingboing that I was the only one looking.
    I would like a peephole and a slot for linden dollars.
    Copyright cartels are medieval barons and I want into the castle.
    I would like copyright laws that only allowed me and only me to view things after all art is born in the mind of the viewer.
    Keep the poor ignorant is a noble motto for journalism.

  7. It’s safe to assume that Joel Tenenbaum doesn’t have $675,000 any more than Jammie Thomas-Rasset has $1,900,000. These judgments will never be paid.

    So what happens to Joel Tenenbaum and Jammie Thomas-Rasset? Do they declare bankruptcy? Are judgments exempt from bankruptcy protection? Does this mean for the rest of their lives they will have to live in the financial shadows, never owning anything in their names, never having a job without their wages being garnished?

    That’s justice with a capital F, isn’t it.

    1. It’s a civil judgement so I think it isn’t an exception to bankruptcy debt discharging. I think fines and restitution from criminal judgements are the only ones excepted. Most of the other exceptions are things like child support or money owed to the government. But, IANAL and all of that.

      A better understanding is important before going all melodramatic. FUD does no one any good.

      1. I think you’re right on this one. The only post-bankruptcy repayments I’ve ever heard of were ones that were criminal proceedings (embezzlement, for instance) or where back-taxes were owed, or child support. I have a hunch that – unless the proceedings ARE criminal – they just have to file bankruptcy and the debt will either be eliminated or significantly reduced. But, as you said, IANAL.

        Just because you’ve filed bankruptcy doesn’t mean you’ll never be extended credit. I’ve had a few friends who’ve had to file bankruptcy, and they said that getting car loans was much easier after the fact than it was before, since the lender knew they had no or little debt (post debt-restructuring). That might also differ state-to-state.

  8. let us not forget: it was bill clinton who signed the dmca. as a matter of fact, excepting bush, i don’t think any self-respecting republican would sign or back a bill like that. so, it’s no surprise that obama likes the dmca: the dems are all about more government controls. (no, i’m an independent. yes, i voted for obama. yes, i’m feeling like that was a mistake. no, i don’t think i had any other choice).

  9. Honestly, I don’t remember Obama being pro-copyright reform during the election. In fact, I distinctly remember thinking to myself that he was far more on the side of the entertainment industry.

    Sometimes I think that people just assumed he supported their position because they desperately wanted to believe it.

  10. Limited sympathy.

    I have no love for the RIAA, and I think the fine is excessive verging upon “unusual”.

    On the other hand, I have no great love for intellectual-property piracy either. Someone has to pay for creativity or none of us get the benefits thereof. If you want to work on alternative ways to fund artists, great, but freeloading isn’t an answer no matter how you slice it.

    If you’re staging a deliberate protest, fine, but remember that civil disobedience is meaningless without the willingness to accept the penalty in order to make your case that the law is being unjust. If you aren’t operating in that mode, we’re back to “ignorantia nihil excusat”; copyright does exist and ignoring it won’t make it go away.

    Unfortunately, we have a lot more inactivists than activists these days, and clueful activists are rarer still. True innovators, of course, are one in a million.

    1. On the other hand, I have no great love for intellectual-property piracy either. Someone has to pay for creativity or none of us get the benefits thereof. If you want to work on alternative ways to fund artists, great, but freeloading isn’t an answer no matter how you slice it.

      And loaded sentences don’t make good arguments.

      There are some artists that are suffering since the internet made it easy to piracy. There are many artists that are doing much better.

      My band for example is in the process of recording our debut album. It’s going to cost us more money then we’ll ever likely get out of it (or would have even if it wasn’t possible to download the songs free from the internet). However we’ll be putting it online (I plan on creating a torrent for it the first day I’ve got a mastered copy in my hand). I’m going to be actively encouraging people from all over Australia and hopefully the world to download it.

      Then a few months later we’re aiming to go on tour around Australia. Hopefully the album will be on a few people’s ipods. Hopefully we’ll have a small fanbase in each place we visit.

      Most likely this is unrealistic, but far more realistic than if we’d just sent the cd to a few local bands in each place that we liked (and again we probably wouldn’t know about these bands if it wasn’t for the ability to listen to music for nothing).

      Again hopefully we’ll have a small fanbase in each place, this fan base will convince a few friends combined with a couple of local acts we like (again found via the internet) we might have a decent turn out at each gig.

      Now for me, the financial incentive is barely something I register. For me it’s all about having people like and enjoy the music I play. However, in a world where people pay massive amounts of money for publicity. Why in the world would you get outraged over free publicity?

    2. Um, there’s a name on the masthead that would disagree with you. Or are you asserting that Cory is living in an alternate universe?

      Even with rampant piracy, smart pirates pay for the stuff they like in the hope more will be forthcoming. This means price signals are actually a *better* measure than they have ever been before, assuming decent availability. Yes, this is a change to a “tip” compensation scheme that takes some adjustment, but it’s a lot better than buying blind. What is the benefit to displeasing your customer?

    3. Someone has to pay for creativity or none of us get the benefits thereof.

      Now that this student is paying enough for all of us, can we consider our debt settled and just enjoy the benefits?

  11. LOAN: “Let’s see here Ms. Thomas-Rasset, you want to buy a Hundai.”
    RASSET: “That’s right.”
    LOAN: “I see here you’ve pay $1,500 in rent… ok $500 on your credit card… $1,900,000 debt to the RIAA… a Sears card…”
    RASSET: “ummm. yes…”
    LOAN: “Wait a minute! What’s that?”
    RASSET: “I can explain…”
    LOAN: “Ms. Rasset you can’t get anything past us. I noticed that the $500 on your credit card is over a year old. We’ll have to take that into account.”
    RASSET: “You got me. Can’t fool you guys…”

  12. This infuriates me to no end. All I can think is “Hulk smash”.

    This is why I pirate. Free stuff is neat, but it’s my moral duty to pirate as much as I can and spread it as far as I can. While I would respect a limited and fixed copyright which respects the rights of artists and the needs of the public, this has gone too far for moderate response. I can’t take Cory’s middle of the road approach. I just want to tear it down and watch it burn.

  13. Awesome! Ruin the kid for life financially over a copyright issue. Criminals get out of prison eventually. This kid will not.

    Nobody got hurt, nobody died.

    The crime is worth $30 at iTunes, of which, the record companies profit, and the artist’s take is what?

    Bankruptcy doesn’t get you out of everything, like fines and court judgments. It might not work here.

  14. Thanks, VP Biden. That’s one campaign promise that you’ve kept. Good show, old man, good show.

    (BTW, Biden has always been pro-corporation in terms of copyright issues; look it up).

  15. The amount of cash commanded by US courts in damages has by far exceeded the limits of reason. The RIAA goons just use what is already there – they are not responsible for one of the failures of the legal system (there are more), the government or the society.

    This is the main reason for many citizens to not trust their legal system or the government anymore. But worse, the RIAA goons want to superimpose those failures on other countries abusing the ACTA “treaty”.

    Germany has also only 2 big political parties – and we are in dire need of change, too. The main difference is that we do not have someone like Obama (i.e. someone selling the same bullshit as they had before as “change you can believe in”), but I think we are better off this way. At least in the next years the pirate party can gather more followers.

    Greetings, LX

  16. I’m so glad now that I voted for Obama – NOT.

    It became clear what his attitude was when he started hiring RIAA lawyers for the Justice Department, clearer when he championed the Secret ACTA “Copyright” treaty which should destroy net neutrality (among other things) and crystal clear when his “Healthcare Reform Bill” rewarded the Health Insurance Cartel is should have reformed with Mandatory Insurance giving them > $80 Billion per year new business.

    We have all been had. Obama is not our President – he is President of Corporate America!

    1. I kinda thought it became clear when AIPAC threw their support behind him. Off-topic, I know, but it this last race blew my mind. All he had was rhetoric and people’s need to believe. I’ve never before witnessed such transparent mass delusion.

  17. *PLEASE* people, write an email on It takes the same amount of time as writing a comment on BoingBoing.

    If we even get the volume up, this will at least register on the radar. The fact that they don’t even have online rights or privacy says they don’t even see any bandwidth on this.

    I’m not saying it will fix everything, but 10K+ emails will bring it up on the agenda.

  18. @Aloisius.Way to remember. Obama was not “pro-copyright” so to speak, before he was elected. In fact, on of the reasons that Biden was picked to be his running mate (by the party, btw) was because of his strong, well known stance on Copyright laws. He was picked to get all the Rights-holders behind Obama. I almost didn’t vote for Obama because of it….then I saw Sarah Palin and had to pick the lesser of two evils.

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