No Surprise: Fair Use Rejected As Tenenbaum Defense
from the let-this-be-over-with-quickly dept
Not only that, but it appears that even Judge Gertner (who originally approached Nesson about representing Tenenbaum, but had to scold him multiple times and threaten sanctions) seems to recognize that if Nesson and Tenenbaum had thought it out, there might actually have been ways to make a fair use claim stick. But, instead they failed to make a compelling case and (as Gertner says): "propose[d] a fair use defense so broad that it would swallow the copyright protections that Congress has created." So what would such a fair use defense entail?
To be sure, this Court can envision certain circumstances in which a defendant sued for file-sharing could assert a plausible fair use defense. Indeed, an amicus brief previously filed in this consolidated action by the Berkman Center at the Harvard Law School (on which Defendant's counsel was a signatory) outlined some of those circumstances--for example, the defendant who 'deleted the MP3 files after sampling them, or created MP3 files exclusively for space-shifting purposes from audio CDs they had previously purchased.' The Court can also envision a fair use defense for a defendant who shared files during a period of time before the law concerning file-sharing was clear and paid outlets were readily available.As with the Jammie Thomas case, it makes you wonder how things would have been different with better legal counsel. Either way, unless there are any major developments, we're unlikely to talk about the day-to-day events of this trial until a ruling is made.
The advent of the internet in the late 1990s threw a number of norms into disarray, offering sudden access to a wealth of digitized media and giving the veneer of privacy or anonymity to acts that had public consequences. At the beginning of this period, both law and technology were unsettled. A defendant who shared files online during this interregnum but later shifted to paid outlets once the law became clear and authorized sources available would present a strong case for fair use. It might matter, too, who the defendant shared files with--his friends, or the world--as well as how many copyrighted works, and for how long.
But the Defendant has offered no facts to suggest that he fits within these categories. He is accused of sharing hundreds of songs over a number of years, far beyond the infancy of this new technology or any legal uncertainty.