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When in trouble save your ass first and don't try to be a hero

2009 December 9
by stefann

Apparently that’s the lesson to be learned from the recent verdict in the RIAA vs. Joel Tanenbaum lawsuit.  Sad, but true.

As reported by ComputerWorld in Judge affirms $675k verdict in RIAA music piracy case:

[U.S. District Court Judge] Gertner said the court would have been willing to consider Tenenbaum’s fair use defense in the case but concluded that the manner in which the arguments were presented by the defense counsel made it all but impossible for her to do so.

“Rather than tailoring his fair use defense to suggest a modest exception to copyright protections, Tenenbaum’s defense mounted a broadside attack that would excuse all file sharing for private enjoyment,” the judge wrote in a 38-page decision. Such a broad definition of fair use would “swallow” all copyright protections, Gertner said.

So, had Tenenbaum’s defense team narrowed its fair use argument to Tenenbaum’s own activity rather than “mount[ing] a broadside attack that would excuse all file sharing for private enjoyment,” she would have been willing to consider the argument.  Seems to me that Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson was defending Tanenbaum more on ideological grounds than trying to save his student ass.  A very Hardvard-esque thing to do perhaps, but a tough lesson to learn.

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