SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT v. TENENBAUM
660 F.3d 487 (2011)
SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants/Cross-Appellees,
Joel TENENBAUM, Defendant, Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Nos. 10-1883, 10-1947, 10-2052.
United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.
Decided September 16, 2011.
Heard April 4, 2011.
Paul D. Clement, with whom Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, Erin E. Murphy, King & Spalding, LLP, Timothy M. Reynolds, Eve G. Burton, Holme, Roberts & Owen, LLP, Matthew J. Oppenheim, and Jennifer L. Pariser were on brief, for plaintiffs-appellants.
Julie A. Ahrens, with whom Anthony T. Falzone, Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society, Michael Barclay, Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Jason M. Schultz, Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, were on brief for Electronic Frontier Foundation, amicus curiae.
Before LYNCH, Chief Judge, TORRUELLA and THOMPSON, Circuit Judges.
LYNCH, Chief Judge.
Plaintiffs, the recording companies Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Brothers Records Inc., Arista Records LLC, Atlantic Recording Corporation, and UMG Recordings, Inc. (together, "Sony"), brought this action for statutory damages and injunctive relief under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. Sony argued that the defendant, Joel Tenenbaum, willfully infringed the copyrights of thirty music recordings by using file-sharing software to download and distribute those recordings without authorization from the copyright owners.
The district court entered judgment against Tenenbaum as to liability. The jury found that Tenenbaum's infringement of the copyrights at issue was willful and awarded Sony statutory damages of $22,500 for each infringed recording, an award within the statutory range of $750 to $150,000 per infringement that Congress established for willful conduct. See 17 U.S.C. § 504(c).
Upon Tenenbaum's motion for a new trial or remittitur, the district court skipped over the question of remittitur and reached a constitutional issue. It reduced the damage award by a factor of ten, reasoning that the award was excessive in violation of Tenenbaum's due process rights. See Sony BMG Music Entm't v. Tenenbaum, 721 F.Supp.2d 85 (D.Mass. 2010).
The parties have cross-appealed. Sony argues the district court erred, for a number of reasons, in reducing the jury's award of damages and seeks reinstatement of the full award. It defends the liability and willfulness determinations.
Tenenbaum challenges both liability and damages. He challenges the Copyright Act's constitutionality and the applicability of the Copyright Act and its statutory damages provision to his conduct. Tenenbaum also argues that the district court committed various errors that require a new trial, and that a further reduction of the damage award is required by the due process clause.
The United States, intervening to defend the constitutionality of the Copyright Act, argues that the district court erred in bypassing the question of common law remittitur to reach a constitutional issue.