Attorney fees cued up for RIAA

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An Oklahoma district judge has awarded almost $70,000 in legal fees to a woman whom the RIAA sued for unlawfully downloading copyrighted music before dropping the complaint in July 2006 to focus on her daughter.

The order, issued July 16 by Judge Lee West, marks the first time the RIAA has been ordered to pay legal fees to an accused file-sharer.

The judgment for $68,685.23 affirms the court's April decision to grant Deborah Foster attorney fees under Section 505 of the U.S. Copyright Act. After the court awarded fees, the RIAA asked for time to conduct discovery on the reasonableness of the size of the award.

Upon review, West declined to grant the $105,680.75 that Foster was seeking but authorized an award much larger than the one the plaintiffs said was reasonable.

In doing so, the judge rejected RIAA arguments that Foster sought compensation for legal work "not properly compensable, time that is improperly block billed and work that is excessive, unreasonable and duplicative."

Foster submitted billings for 466.15 hours of attorney time and 34.9 hours of paralegal time.

The RIAA has acknowledged that Foster was sued because she maintained the ISP account used by her daughter to download unauthorized music. The group said Tuesday that it is disappointed with the decision but that the case is not representative of the results in its broad litigation campaign against file-sharing.

"We respectfully believe that this ruling is in error and is an isolated occurrence," RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth said. "In the handful of cases where the person engaging in the illegal activity in the household is not the person responsible for the ISP account, we look to gather the facts quickly and do our best to identify the appropriate defendant."

Eriq Gardner is a senior staff writer for The Hollywood Reporter, ESQ.
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