Obama Administration Chooses Side in File Sharing Debate

Team Obama looks a lot like the Bush Administration, at least in its position on fines imposed under the federal Copyright Act. David Kravets reports for Wired that the Justice Department has weighed in on the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) file sharing lawsuits, and the news isn’t good for music-downloading college students and other defendants. The government supports damages of up to $150,000 per music track, echoing the former administration’s views. 

The Justice Department’s intervention responds to a counterclaim by former Boston University student and RIAA target Joel Tenenbaum, who challenged the Copyright Act’s constitutionality, claiming that the excessive nature of the RIAA’s fines amounts to an abuse of civil and criminal legal processes.

According to Kravets, the government’s position should surprise no one, since former RIAA lawyers litter the top jobs in Obama’s Justice Department, including Associate Attorney General Tom Perelli.

Since 2003 the RIAA has sued over 30,000 citizens under the Copyright Act, including students, grandparents, mothers, children, and even the dead.

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