RIAA Has to Pay Debbie Foster’s Attorneys Fees

In a recent case in Oklahoma, Capitol Records v. Debbie Foster, the court has granted the defendant’s motion for attorneys fees to be imposed against the RIAA. The court held that Ms. Foster is to receive her “reasonable attorney’s fees”. This is a significant decision, especially considering the increasing number of lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against individuals accused of copyright infringement.

Judge Lee R. West, in his 9-page decision(pdf), did not specify the amount to be awarded. However, he held that the RIAA can have “discovery” on the reasonableness issue, and also ruled that Ms. Foster can later supplement her application for additional fees. Her initial application at last count sought approximately $55,000 in legal fees and disbursements.

This case is particularly noteworthy because several organizations, including the ACLU, Public Citizen, EFF, the American Association of Law Libraries, and the ACLU Oklahoma Foundation, filed an amicus brief on Ms. Foster’s behalf. They argued to the judge that a substantial attorneys fee award was needed to discourage the RIAA’s “driftnet” litigation strategy.

The RIAA has been criticized for its strategy of filing lawsuits against large numbers of individuals accused of copyright infringement, often without strong evidence. This approach has been compared to a “driftnet” – casting a wide net and hoping to catch a few fish. Critics argue that this approach is both unfair and ineffective, as it targets many innocent individuals and does little to deter copyright infringement.

Ms. Foster’s case is just one example of the many individuals who have been caught up in the RIAA’s driftnet. She was accused of sharing music files online, but she denied the allegations and fought back against the RIAA’s lawsuit. She argued that she had never even heard of some of the songs she was accused of sharing, and that the evidence against her was weak.

In the end, the court agreed with Ms. Foster and granted her motion for attorneys fees to be imposed against the RIAA. This is a significant victory, as it sends a message to the RIAA and other copyright holders that they cannot simply file lawsuits without strong evidence and expect to get away with it.

It also highlights the importance of organizations like the ACLU, Public Citizen, and EFF in defending the rights of individuals accused of copyright infringement. These organizations play a vital role in ensuring that individuals have access to legal representation and are not bullied into settling lawsuits that they cannot afford.

Overall, the decision in Capitol Records v. Debbie Foster is a positive development for those who have been targeted by the RIAA’s driftnet. It reinforces the idea that individuals have the right to defend themselves against baseless accusations and that attorneys fees can be awarded in cases where copyright holders have acted unfairly.