Another file-swapping trial, another victory for the record companies. I love rooting for the underdog as much as anybody, but this is starting to look like a rout.
As I write this, a jury in Rhode Island is deciding how many millions in damages to award to the record companies in the Joel Tenenbaum file-sharing trial.
[ See more file-swapping funny business on InfoWorld: "Don't stop believing in the RIAA's capacity for evil" | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
This case was supposed pit Harvard's crack legal team against the record companies, with the prime objective being to challenge the Constitutionality of the RIAA's police-state tactics. Unfortunately, it was the legal arguments that cracked when Judge Nancy Gertner threw out Team Tenenbaum's argument that listening to music obtained via Kazaa constituted "fair use."
After that, their case turned to styrofoam -- literally. Defense attorney Charles Neeson took a piece of styrofoam and crumpled it to bits in front of the jury to demonstrate what happens to "albums" when they get distributed online. (And if that didn't work, he was going to try balloon animals. Just kidding, I think.)
Of course, it also doesn't help your case when the defendant is a complete knob. (See: Thomas-Rasset, Jammie.)
On the stand, Tenenbaum cheerfully admitted to using Kazaa to download the 30 songs he's being sued about, and hundreds more. That was enough for Judge Gertner, who reviewed the transcript last night and this morning declared him "guilty, guilty, guilty."
It's a bit like someone on trial for murder who says, "Yep, I shot that guy, it was me, eeyuck eeyuck." Unless insanity or self-defense are acceptable arguments in a copyright case, that's probably not the smartest strategy for victory.