There is no question that this reduced award is still severe, even harsh. It not only adequately compensates the plaintiffs for the relatively minor harm that Tenenbaum caused them; it sends a strong message that those who exploit peer-to-peer networks to unlawfully download and distribute copyrighted works run the risk of incurring substantial damages awards. Tenenbaum’s behavior, after all, was hardly exemplary. The jury found that he not only violated the law, but did so willfully.Judge Gertner's opinion thus differs significantly from that of Judge Michael Davis in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case, which reduced an award of copyright statutory damages on common law remittitur (i.e., non-constitutional) grounds.
Reducing the jury’s $675,000 award, however, also sends another no less important message: The Due Process Clause does not merely protect large corporations, like BMW and State Farm, from grossly excessive punitive awards. It also protects ordinary people like Joel Tenenbaum.
Keep in mind that while the reduced award of $67,500 -- $2,250 multiplied by the 30 songs on which the record labels sought damages -- is certainly better from Tenenbaum's perspective than $675,000, he could have easily settled long ago for $4,000. And he has told the Boston Globe that the lower amount is still "unpayable to me."
I'll have additional analysis once I've had the chance to read the entire opinion.
Order on motion for new trial/remittitur in Joel Tenenbaum case