The Recording Industry Association of America, which has been papering the country with lawsuits against suspected filesharers over the past couple of years, is seeing the costly downside to its new revenue stream. On Monday, a judge ruled that the organization has to pay about $70,000 to an Oklahoma woman who was incorrectly slapped with a copyright-infringement lawsuit:
The RIAA’s suit against Deborah Foster began in November 2004, when it claimed evidence that an IP address associated with her Internet service provider account was engaging in illegal file sharing. Foster repeatedly asserted she had no knowledge of such activity, and in 2005, the RIAA expanded its complaint to include her adult daughter, Amanda. Because Amanda failed to defend herself against the complaint, the RIAA won a judgment against her by default.
The RIAA continued to pursue its claims against Deborah Foster until U.S. District Judge Lee West in Oklahoma City dismissed them last July. The judge went on to find Foster was eligible for attorneys fees, but the RIAA called for further proceedings to determine the amount.
Foster requested $105,680.75, but the judge concluded in a lengthy 14-page analysis of her itemized expenses and other billing materials that she was eligible only for $68,685.23.
This case is the first time that the RIAA has had to pay an incorrectly targeted person’s legal fees, but we imagine that this decision will set a precedent for other people who get caught in the organization’s crosshairs and want to fight back. What next, then? We’re guessing that the next move for the RIAA is a series of “The More You Know”-style PSAs hosted by the likes of JoJo and Katharine McPhee.