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Fine shaved in illegal music downloading case

BOSTON - A federal judge has drastically trimmed a $675,000 verdict against a Boston University graduate student who was found guilty of illegally downloading and sharing songs online.

Judge Nancy Gertner on Friday cut a jury's damage award against Joel Tenenbaum of Providence, R.I., to $67,500, saying it was "unconstitutionally excessive" and "wholly out of proportion."

Tenenbaum was sued by music companies who said he violated copyright rules. He admitted downloading songs between 1999 and 2007. The jury found him guilty and assessed the damage award last July.

His lawyers appealed, calling the award "severe" and "oppressive." Gertner said the reduced penalty is still severe enough to deter illegal file-sharing and adequately compensate the companies.

A spokeswoman for the plaintiffs did not immediately return calls for comment.

Tenenbaum said Friday he was happy Gertner recognized the award is unconstitutional. - AP

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