The case of Sony v. Tenenbaum is rushing to a swift end (as expected) as Judge Nancy Gertner granted the record labels’ motion for a directed verdict on the issue of copyright infringement last night. Tenenbaum is now liable for infringing all 30 songs at issue. All that will be left to the jury is to determine the size of the damage award and whether the infringement was willful.
Judge Gertner’s change of heart came after she had a chance to review the transcript of Thursday’s testimony by Joel Tenenbaum. During direct examination, Tenenbaum was asked a simple question by the labels’ counsel: “on the stand now, are you admitting liability for downloading and distributing all 30 sound recordings that are at issue and listed on Exhibits 55 and 56 of the exhibits?” His simple “yes” answer was enough to hand the labels a victory on the question of liability.
“Notwithstanding the protestations of Tenenbaum’s counsel, Tenenbaum’s statement plainly admits liability on both downloading and distributing, does so in the very language of the statute (no ‘making available’ ambiguity) and does so with respect to each and every sound recording at issue here,” wrote Judge Gertner.
If the jury concludes that the infringement was willful, he could be forced to pay damages up to $150,000 per song (that’s $4.5 million). The decision was scheduled to be made today, we’ll bring you more as it happens.