In case you didn't know, practically anything you read, listen to or watch at the movie theater is protected by US copyright laws. Breaking those laws by copying those items or using them without permission can lead to big legal problems, and possibly a lifetime of debt.
• A graduate student has to pay for illegal music downloads
• Copyright laws have sharp teeth to protect the owners of covered works
• It may take years, even a lifetime, to pay off a court judgment
Sometimes Loving Music isn't Worth It
For Joel Tenenbaum, the music began turning sour in 2005. That's when, as an undergraduate student, his parents received a notice directing them to call the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to arrange payment of $5,250 for pirated music downloaded to a computer in their home - by Tenenbaum, as it turned out.
According to Tenenbaum, the RIAA refused his offers to settle the case, and he heard nothing until 2007. That's when the RIAA filed a lawsuit against him for copyright infringement, asking for $4.5 million in damages. Ultimately, a jury determined that Tenenbaum, who's now in graduate school, had to pay RIAA $675,000, but a judge lowered the award to $67,500 because the original award was unconstitutionally excessive.
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