Illegal Downloading Costs Grad Student $675,000

The Boston University student could have been hit with a much higher fine.

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A Boston University graduate student must pay $675,000 to four music companies for illegally downloading and distributing more than two dozen songs, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

The federal jury's orders were made public Friday, just one day after the student, Joel Tenenbaum, admitted to the illegal downloading. But things could have been a lot worse for Tenenbaum: The jury could have forced the 25-year-old physics student to pay upwards of $4 million. In a June lawsuit, a woman was ordered to pay nearly $2 million for downloading 24 songs.

"I'm thankful that it wasn't much bigger, that it wasn't millions," Tenenbaum said, adding that he plans to appeal the decision but will file for bankruptcy protection if the order stands.

In a written statement, the Recording Industry Association of America (the organization that sued Tenenbaum) said it was happy with the trial's outcome. "We appreciate that Mr. Tenenbaum finally acknowledged that artists and music companies deserve to be paid for their work. We only wish he had done so sooner rather than lie about his illegal behavior."