When I heard the clerk announce that the jury in the Joel Tenenbaum case had awarded $22,500 per infringed work, I immediately thought: "Uh oh. Did they screw up? Did they really mean to award $22,500 total -- which happens to be the minimum statutory damages award of $750 per work, multiplied by the 30 works at issue?" (Others had similar thoughts.)
But my concerns were quickly put to rest. First, Judge Nancy Gertner clearly stated that the award was $22,500 per work, and asked the jury whether that was correct. The jury collectively responded, "Yes." Shortly afterwards, I spoke with one of the jurors. While I didn't ask him directly about the "mistake" theory (given the jury's response to Judge Gertner's inquiry, I no longer considered it plausible), it was clear from that conversation that the amount the jury intended to award was indeed $22,500 per work. For example, the juror mentioned that the final number was the result of "true compromise," i.e., higher than some people wanted, but lower than others' preference. Had the jury awarded the minimum of $750 per work, that would have represented a total victory/defeat -- not a "compromise."
But the strongest evidence that the jury did indeed intend to award $22,500 per work -- not $22,500 total -- comes from the verdict form itself. The form clearly indicates that the jury awarded $22,500 for each of the 30 separate songs.
Sony v. Joel Tenenbaum Verdict Form
And with that, I think we can put the "mistake" theory of the verdict to rest.