A law professor at Harvard University has filed a counterclaim against the Recording Industry Association of America, arguing that a statute it is using to sue Joel Tenenbaum, a student at Boston University, is unconstitutional, Computerworld reports.
The RIAA had sued Mr. Tenenbaum for violating the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 — by allegedly copying and distributing copyrighted songs. But according to the law professor, Charles Nesson, that criminal statute cannot be applied to a civil case in federal court.
Mr. Nesson is challenging both the RIAA’s use of the law and the law itself. It gives the RIAA prosecutorial authority and “unbridled discretion” to sue millions of people, he argues, according to Computerworld.
This challenge to the RIAA, the magazine says, is broader than many recent ones that focus on the group’s means of gathering evidence against alleged pirates. —Sara Lipka