By Adam Lewin
Damages Reinstated by First Circuit in Tenenbaum / RIAA Suit
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reinstated a $675,000 jury verdict entered against Joel Tenenbaum for copyright infringement of 30 sound recordings accomplished using file-sharing software. At trial, the jury determined that Tenenbaum was guilty of willful infringement and awarded the plaintiff record companies statutory damages of $22,500 for each song as permitted under 17 U.S.C. § 104(c). Judge Nancy Gertner of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts reduced that amount by a factor of ten to $67,500, holding that anything more would be unconstitutionally excessive. The First Circuit reinstated the original jury verdict because Judge Gertner had failed to consider a motion for remittitur prior to reaching the constitutional issues. The case has been remanded to the District of Massachusetts for reconsideration of the motion for remittitur.
FCC Publishes New Net Neutrality Rules
When the FCC attempted to enforce its net neutrality rules, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that it had not adequately established its regulatory authority to promulgate them in the first place. Ars Technica reports that the FCC has finalized new net neutrality rules in response to this ruling and published them in the Federal Register. Verizon and MetroPCS are expected to renew their challenges to this set of regulations, with the support of some Congressional Republicans, who have vowed to overrule the new rules by legislation.
Senate Antitrust Panel Holds Hearings on Google with Chairman Eric Schmidt
As the New York Times reports, a Senate antitrust panel heard testimony last week from Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt. Because of its size and dominance in online search, Google has come under antitrust scrutiny. Perhaps motivated by complaints from Google’s competitors, the Senate panel focused on whether Google was leveraging its power in search to promote its newer or less popular products by artificially ranking them higher. Schmidt, for his part, emphasized that Google is faced with intense competition in many of its products, including search, and that it maintains its market position by offering superior products rather than through anticompetitive behavior. Google has outlined its positions in its “Guide to the Senate Judiciary Hearing.”
Righthaven May Face Bankruptcy
So-called copyright troll Righthaven’s model of buying rights to sue from copyright holders is under siege. Earlier in the summer, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada dismissed a Righthaven suit, holding that one cannot acquire “a bare right to sue” without any ownership rights in a copyright. Citizen Media Law Project reports that in separate litigation, Righthaven was defeated and ordered to pay attorneys fees of approximately $34,000. But it is now asking for a stay of judgment pending appeal, lest it fall into bankruptcy. Ars Technica speculates that the copyright troll business model may have been doomed from the beginning.