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Boston Judge Cuts Penalty In Song-Sharing Case

A federal judge has drastically trimmed a $675,000 verdict against a Boston University graduate student who was found guilty of illegally downloading and sharing songs online.

Judge Nancy Gertner on Friday cut a jury's damage award against Joel Tenenbaum, of Providence, to $67,500, saying it was "unconstitutionally excessive" and "wholly out-of-proportion."

Tenenbaum was sued by music companies who said he violated copyright rules. He admitted downloading songs between 1999 and 2007. The jury found him guilty and assessed the damage award last July.

Tenenbaum calls the ruling a victory, but says it is still far from reasonable.

"Still, I don't have $70,000," he said, "and $2,000 a song still seems a bit nuts to me when you can buy them for 99 cents on iTunes."

His lawyers appealed, calling the award "severe" and "oppressive."

Gertner said the reduced penalty is still severe enough to deter illegal file-sharing and adequately compensate the companies.

A spokeswoman for the plaintiffs did not immediately return calls for comment.

This program aired on July 9, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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