Saturday, September 17, 2011

1st Circuit declines to reach Due Process issue in SONY v Tenenbaum, reverses & remands for further proceedings #law

In SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, in a 65-page decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to decide the issue of whether the jury's award of $22,500 per infringed work was unconstitutional under due process grounds, and remanded the case to Judge Gertner for further proceedings, on the ground that the lower court's ruling on the due process issue was premature.

The court held that under the doctrine of judicial restraint, the trial court is required to first decide the common law remittitur issues, a step with which Judge Gertner had dispensed.

The court noted the longstanding judicial doctrine that constitutional issues should not be reached if they are avoidable. The court gave a few examples of possible scenarios following a remittitur decision which would have dispensed with the need for the district court's decision of of the constitutional question.

(Ed. note. In layman's terms: the 1st Circuit hasn't decided whether the jury's award is excessive or not. Next step is for Judge Gertner to decide whether the jury's award is excessive on "common law", "remittitur" grounds, and if so, by how much. -R.B.)

(Ed. note. Numerous unrelated arguments which had been made by Tenenbaum were rejected. - R.B.)

September 16, 2011, opinion of US Court of Appeals for 1st Circuit

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Technology & Marketing Law Blog (Venkat Balasubramani)

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