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Court Reinstates $675,000 In Damages For Illegal Music Downloads

A federal appeals court has reinstated a $675,000 judgment against a Boston University student who illegally downloaded and shared songs on the Internet.

In 2009, a jury in Boston awarded $675,000 to the Recording Industry Association of America, representing four record labels, in a lawsuit filed against Joel Tenenbaum.

A judge later reduced the award to $67,500, finding the original penalty for sharing 31 songs "unconstitutionally excessive."

In his appeal, Tenenbaum sought to overturn the penalty. But the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the full award in a ruling Friday.

"We're dumbstruck," Tenenbaum told WBUR Monday. "It's amazing that the court system can hand down a decision like this with a straight face."

Tenenbaum's lawyers argue that federal copyright laws and the Digital Theft Deterrence Act were not meant to target consumers. Lawyers representing the recording industry argue that the economic impact of illegal downloading is much greater than the sharing of one song.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on September 19, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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