The defendant in an illegal music downloading case has won her legal fees, and opponents of the record industry's slew of copyright lawsuits are hoping they've set a precedent.
Yesterday, Oklahoma District Court Judge Lee R. West found that Deborah Foster was entitled to $68,685.23 in attorneys’ fees from Capitol Records, which sued her in 2004 for alleged copyright violation. The label later added the defendant’s adult daughter as co-defendant. While Capitol won a default judgment against the daughter, it dropped its case against Deborah Foster after she declined an out of court settlement.
According to Variety, “In the thousands of suits the industry has brought against allegedly illegal downloaders, five other defendants have sought recovery of attorneys’ fees. None succeeded, according to the RIAA.”
Ray Beckerman, an attorney who spoke to Variety, said the case would be viewed as a “landmark” not only because of Foster’’s recovery of fees, but also for the court’s finding that “the RIAA’s theory for trying to pin liability on a parent is marginal.”
With the door open to recovering fees, he said, both defendants and lawyers may respond to future RIAA suits more combatively. Bloggers today have largely echoed Beckerman’s hope, though some were inclined to see Foster’s victory as modest.
“Score (a little) one for the little guys,” one blogger wrote.