The English-language news network "Russia Today" has broadcast a report on the Joel Tenenbaum case. I can only believe the correspondent earned her stripes at the Communist-era Pravda, where propaganda substituted for facts and balance. The report is truly, deeply awful, a vile goop of falsehoods and one-sided mischaracterizations.
To mention just a few:
The anchor says Tenenbaum could "end up paying millions of dollars for downloading seven songs." False. Even by Tenenbaum's own propaganda (which itself ignores most of the relevant facts), the maximum possible award of statutory damages is about $1 million -- not "millions." And the plaintiffs allege that he both downloaded and uploaded songs. And it is not certain how many songs on which the labels will seek damages among the approximately 800 he had in his shared folder. And in the first Jammie Thomas trial, the labels did not ask for a specific amount, instead leaving the award within the discretion of the jury (as bound by the statute). (I explain this all in greater detail here.)
The reporter gives us three choices on how to characterize Tenenbaum: "A hero of our time, a victim, or a criminal?" How about: "A copyright infringer"? This is a civil case; no one has charged him with being a criminal.
The following Chyron runs through most of the piece: "STUDENT CITES NASTY PRACTICE IN U.S. PRIVACY OR PIRACY TRIAL." I'm not exactly sure what that even means, but it sure doesn't sound like something a fair-minded news organization would broadcast.
Tenenbaum tells the reporter that his "life is derailed because of this," and the reporter says the case could bankrupt him and his family. But Tenenbaum could have easily settled long ago for $4,000 -- which would have been the smart thing to do, especially since both he and his counsel have admitted that he used a p2p network to download and "share" songs without permission (and Judge Gertner knows about this admission as well). If his "life is derailed," it is only because he has chosen to engage a quixotic fight to change copyright law and make himself a martyr.
The reporter says, "He and his team just want this nightmare to end." Easy: stop dragging out the inevitable with "frivolous" motions and settle.
But worst of all: where is the comment from the labels? Did they get a chance to explain why Tenenbaum is liable for infringement, and should have to pay? Or why piracy harms the industry? Or to respond to the tales of woe recounted by Tenenbaum and his mother? If so, there's no evidence of it.
Nice work, comrade.