Last summer, a Boston University graduate student was ordered to pay $670,000 in damages for illegally downloading 30 songs. Yesterday, US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner said that was ludicrous and reduced it to $67,000. Thank God.
Even that reduced number, she wrote in her decision, is "severe, even harsh." She hopes the reduced damages will serve a dual purpose: showing downloaders that illegal file sharing will have significant financial consequences, but also sending a message that the constitution protects ordinary people from excessive punishment just as much as it protects record companies and their copyright claims.