RIAA Should Pay Victim's Legal Costs in Baseless Suit
San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with the American Association of Law Libraries, the ACLU, and Public Citizen, filed a brief with an Oklahoma district court Thursday, strongly urging a judge to award the innocent target of a file-sharing lawsuit the cost of her attorney's fees in battling the baseless allegations of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The RIAA sued Deborah Foster in November of 2004, accusing her of illegally downloading copyrighted material. Foster denied the allegations and fought back in court, and the case was dismissed. But many others who are falsely accused accept settlement offers from the RIAA because the cost of settling the case is less than what they might spend defending themselves.
"The RIAA has forced many innocent Americans through an expensive and emotionally draining process to clear their names. Some, understandably, just give up," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Deborah Foster fought a brave battle against unjust charges, and she deserves to have her attorney's fees reimbursed."
So far, the RIAA has sued over 18,000 individuals for allegedly sharing music over the Internet. But the industry uses slapdash investigative methods to find its targets, and so innocent people as well as guilty ones can find themselves entangled in an expensive and draining process. One recent victim was a woman who didn't even own a computer. Another lawsuit target was deceased. If Ms. Foster is awarded attorney's fees, it will encourage future innocent victims to stand up for themselves in court.
"Innocent victims of meritless lawsuits have the right to fight back," said Schultz. "The RIAA needs to know that it can't continue its sloppy campaign without regard to the people ensnared by it."
The amicus brief was filed in the western district of Oklahoma with the assistance of attorney A. Laurie Koller of Carr & Carr.
For the full amicus brief:
For more on the RIAA's lawsuits:
Electronic Frontier Foundation