A federal judge is awarding Tanya Andersen, who defeated the Recording Industry Association of America's file sharing lawsuit, $108,000 in legal fees to compensate for defending herself against the RIAA.
The award, made public Wedesday by U.S. District Judge James A. Redden of Oregon, marks the second time that a target of the RIAA who beat a lawsuit was awarded attorney's fees. In August, a federal judge ordered the RIAA to pay $68,685 in litigation costs to two Oklahoma women whose case was dismissed.
Whether RIAA defendants who successfully defend such suits are automatically entitled to legal fees is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The dispute is whether judges must award fees to a prevailing party under the Copyright Act.
Judge Redden ruled (.pdf) that RIAA's arguments against legal fees were "misplaced."
"An award of attorney's fees to the prevailing party are 'the rule rather than the exception' under the Copyright Act, and 'should be awarded routinely,'" Redden wrote.
The RIAA dropped the case against Andersen last year after concluding her hard drive didn't contain purloined music tracks. The RIAA initially claimed a Kazaa shared directory that linked to her internet-protocol address was unlawfully distributing thousands of songs.
In response to the lawsuit against her, Andersen has countersued the RIAA in a case seeking class-action status to represent what her attorneys say is thousands of persons wrongly sued by the RIAA. That case has been dismissed three times, and its fourth try is pending.
Andersen attorney Lory Lybeck requested $300,000 and the RIAA suggested $30,000 was more appropriate. The award is upwards of $190 a hour.
The RIAA has sued more than 20,000 people for copyright infringement.