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Musings On Tenenbaum Case

August 05, 2009

Some facts on the Joel Tenenbaum case, for those interested:

FACT: Tenenbaum was caught illegally downloading and distributing thousands of songs to millions of anonymous strangers using various p2p networks (including Napster, LimeWire, Morpheus, iMesh, AudioGalaxy, Kazaa and the like) since 1999. We brought legal action on a representative sample of 30 of those songs. Tenenbaum admitted that he knew that downloading and uploading music on these networks was illegal, but did it nonetheless.

FACT: After receiving our notice of claims against him, Mr. Tenenbaum pledged he would erase all unauthorized songs from his p2p shared folder. He did not. When asked why he didn’t remove the illegal songs, he indicated that he simply couldn’t bring himself to erase his music collection. In fact, he continued to heavily download and upload songs via p2p networks.  Evidence shows he persisted in the illegal activity as recently as May 2008 (three years after receiving notice of claims and two years after receiving a formal lawsuit).

FACT: Mr. Tenenbaum is a hard-core, habitual and unrepentant p2p abuser who has caused harm to the music community.  

FACT: After years of proactively dragging out his case by refusing to settle and filing obstructionist motions, Mr. Tenenbaum finally admitted to the illegal activity on the fourth day of trial in Boston.  

FACT: Tenenbaum admitted during his testimony that he lied about his illegal behavior in sworn depositions  and other statements, a felony under federal law.

FACT: Mr. Tenenbaum doesn’t take this seriously. He belatedly SAYS he believes that artists and music creators should be paid for their work, but he doesn’t apparently believe he should have to pay them. He even claims he was “joking” during settlement discussions when he demanded that we pay him thousands of dollars. In fact, even after a jury of his own peers ruled in favor of the record companies and rendered a decisive verdict against him, Mr. Tenenbaum still can’t admit that what he did was wrong.

FACT:  As much as he wants to make this into one, this is not a crusade against the RIAA or the laws that protect creators.  This is not about us. It’s about Joel Tenenbaum and his egregious illegal behavior which robs artists and music creators of the right to be paid for their work, and robs record companies of the ability to invest in new artists and bring new music to the public.

FACT:  Mr. Tenenbaum has put forth the defense that “his generation” has grown up learning that file-sharing isn’t wrong. This is a bogus argument. I’m a member of Tenenbaum’s generation. I was taught I shouldn’t take what doesn’t belong to me without permission. And even Mr. Tenenbaum’s own classmates at Goucher College in Maryland voted to ban illegal p2p networks on campus.  Young people who know right from wrong are not the exception to the rule.  According to a recent study by research firm NPD, for the first time ever, those households that have purchased music legally have now surpassed the number of households that acquire music illegally.

FACT: The best anti-piracy strategy is a thriving legal marketplace that gives music fans a wide variety of innovative options where they can get their favorite music in affordable, hassle-free ways. Because there are some people like Mr. Tenenbaum who believe music should be free, we’ve had to enforce our rights to protect all those hard-working individuals who create the music.

FACT: We do not want to be in court. We’d rather be investing in new artists and bringing great music to the public’s collective ears. But artists, musicians, music companies, and all the working-class folks who rely on the legitimate sale of music to make a living deserve to be paid for their work.  Because paying for music does not just benefit artists – it benefits the backup singers, session musicians, sound engineers, technicians, producers – everyone involved in the making of that product.

FACT:  We remain willing to settle this case, but Tenenbaum is so far insisting on filing more motions and appeals in order to continue to pursue his misguided mission to get music for free.

Nobody can argue that people don’t deserve to be paid for their hard work. But through all his illegal actions, Tenenbaum has argued exactly that. Despite all this, we remain open to settling, as we always are and have been.

Cara Duckworth