Joel Tenenbaum of Providence, R.I., now admits he illegally downloaded and distributed 30 songs six years ago.
What the 25-year-old Boston University graduate student couldn't have known was how much sharing music with his friends would cost him.
After facing trial for copyright infringement, a Boston jury ordered him to pay $675,000 to four record labels for illegally sharing music, the Associated Press reported.
Tenenbaum is only the second American to be taken to trial in such a case.
Tenenbaum tried to settle the case for $5,000, but the offer was rejected, Debbie Rosenbaum, a spokeswoman for Tenebaum's lawyer, Charles Nesson, told ABC News.
While Tenenbaum told the AP he was grateful that he wasn't ordered to pay millions in damages, he said he will have to file for bankruptcy if the verdict stands.
Nesson, a Harvard Law School professor, told the AP that he plans to appeal the decision because he was not allowed to argue the case based on fair use.
During the trial, Tim Reynolds, a lawyer for the recording labels, called Tenenbaum "a hardcore, habitual, long-term infringer who knew what he was doing was wrong."
Tenenbaum admitted to downloading and sharing songs by Nirvana, Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins and other artists.
So far, more than 30,000 other file sharers have settled in recent years for amounts ranging from $3,000 to $12,000.
In 2007, Jammie Thomas-Rasset of Minnesota was the first person to be sued by recording companies. She was ordered to pay a whopping $1.92 million to the labels.
Her attorney said Thomas-Rasset did not have the money to settle the case and contends that she still doesn't have the money for the damages she's being asked to pay. She has asked the federal court for a new trial.