Monday, July 16, 2007

Judge Awards $68,685.23 in Attorneys Fees Against RIAA in Capitol v. Foster

In Capitol v. Foster, in Oklahoma, the Court has order the RIAA to pay the defendant Debbie Foster $68,685.23 in attorneys rees and costs.

This is the first attorneys fee award, of which we are aware, against the RIAA.

Ms. Foster was represented by Marilyn Barringer-Thomson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

July 16, 2007, Order and Decision Directing RIAA to Pay $68,685.23 in Attorneys Fees*

Related stories:

-RIAA "Reconsideration" Motion and "Reasonableness Inquiry" Cause Capitol v. Foster Fees to Double From $55k to $114k
-Judge Denies RIAA "Reconsideration" Motion in Capitol v. Foster, Calls Plaintiffs' Counsel "Disingenuous", Motives "Questionable"
-In Capitol v. Foster, Court Directs RIAA to Turn Over Attorney Billing Records to Ms. Foster's Lawyer, Rules that Documents Are Confidential
-Judge Grants Debbie Foster's Attorneys Fees Motion in Capitol v. Foster

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation


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Keywords: digital copyright online law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs

14 comments:

pepper said...

Is this a good settlement? Does this cover her expenses?

Ray Beckerman said...

Personally I think it was way too low.

AMD FanBoi said...

What I observed is that the judge seemed to use almost any excuse to take away everything he felt he possibly could. He LOVED the RIAA expert, and DISMISSED the Defendant's expert.

Where I feel this judge is the most wrong is when he calls this "a simple case" that doesn't deserve high fees. This is, in actuality, a very novel case of the sort that has never yet gone to trial. A whole lot of original work had to happen here, and THE JUDGE IS WRONG to have said otherwise!

Can this be appealed?

QuantumG said...

Well, congrats anyway.

Hopefully we'll see a lot of these soon.

Iggy said...

I don't know...I've been pretty pleased with Judge West's ruling in this case...he was thorough and fair. I was also unsure why the bill doubled for discovery on the hours.

All in all I think the last 7 days have brought 3 pieces of great news (really low judgement, denial of ex-parte subpena's, and this).

I couldn't post without mentioning how funny the "had they agreed with us that they were liable from the start they wouldn't have incurred any legal fees refuting it so they shouldn't get them reimbursed" argument is. Sometimes I wonder how these lawyers got into college, let alone law school.

Iggy said...

Bad news from my alma mater though...only 2 students decided to fight:

http://media.www.thejusticeonline.com/media/storage/paper573/news/2007/07/12/News/Two-Students.Sued.For.Illegal.Downloading-2923248.shtml

-Igor

Jadeic said...

On the face of it Foster still owes her attorney the balance of $114,636.18 less $68,685.23 - please let this not be so.

This document contains detailed and complex interpretations of the rules governing the settlement of reasonable fees that go way beyond my knowledge on the subject. I simply have to accept the rulings as correct but I do agree with amd faboi that the overall vibe is one that supports the plaintiff at almost very turn. He is right too that this case involved much original work and by no means falls into the 'simple' category. I particularly take objection to the inference that runs throughout that the defendants costs would have been considerably less if she had simply rolled over and played ball with the RIAA's claims of copyright infringement.

However, methinks that this little exercise may yet come back to slap the RIAA across the face if they ever try to substantiate their own reasonable expense claims. Or perhaps more pertinently the RIAA may well use the same arguments to challenge their own attorney's bill when presented - now that would be nice. For example, although I quote a different case here, how does an apparent $375 per hour rate for counsel's travel time, in the attempt by the RIAA to bill Gustave Lindor Jr. in their contempt of court motion, sit with the ruling in this case that $175 per hour is reasonable in calculating Ms. Barringer-Thomson's expenses?

I doubt that this can be appealed after such a detailed ruling but the cynic in me suggests that it more likely that the RIAA will do the appealing against such outrageously unreasonable fees - if only to further delay actually paying out!

Dan said...

It's the block billing that hurt them in getting the fees that they asked for. I've never seen that hold up to significant challenge. And really, with todays billing software there's not a good excuse for it. Sucks though -- I'd like to have seen full costs awarded.

I think that the standard has been set now, and future defendants probably won't have to pay a dream team anywhere near $500/hr in legal fees to fight this. Hopefully this will make this sort of an action much easier to defend against.

I do think it's crazy that the plaintiffs claim that Ms. Foster inflated the costs by refusing to settle.

Matthew said...

How long before the RIAA files yet another protest to drag this thing out even more?

Foster's lawyer must have good hourly rates. I thought the fees amount seemed low.

R. C. said...

I don't think the judge favored the RIAA expert, he favored the details and precision presented in the report.

Based on what I read in the document it appears that for once, the RIAA got someone competent who did a complete and thorough analysis. On the flip side, Ms. Foster's expert was lax in his critique of billing, which made it appear to the judge to be a half-baked job.
Hey, before you go for my neck, read -> This is just what I'm interpreting from reading the document, I don't know how detailed either analysis actually was.

But I do think some of the charges were overblown. I'd hate to have to pay my lawyer $1.50 per page for printouts. A lawyer should charge a premium for their expertise, not their printer paper.

On a final note, this strikes me as absolutely amazing:
When they want money from someone, the RIAA totally ignores detailed analysis and common sense, they for the wallet and they go for it hard.

But when it's time for them to pay out, all of a sudden someone pops up who can point out every unnecessary item, every unit price that is too high.

Perhaps they should have their billing expert look at their OWN claims, and see if it's fair to ask for $700 per song plus all sorts of fees.

StephenH said...

This is sad. The judge did not award her full attorney costs. I find this tragic, and the RIAA should not be able to get away with this. If this is appealable, I would suggest that she appeal.

Ray Beckerman said...

Yes it was inconsistent of Judge West to call it "simple" when he himself has observed that the RIAA's legal theory was brand new and "untested".

Ray Beckerman said...

Iggy said...

I don't know...I've been pretty pleased with Judge West's ruling in this case...he was thorough and fair. I was also unsure why the bill doubled for discovery on the hours.

All in all I think the last 7 days have brought 3 pieces of great news (really low judgement, denial of ex-parte subpena's, and this).

I couldn't post without mentioning how funny the "had they agreed with us that they were liable from the start they wouldn't have incurred any legal fees refuting it so they shouldn't get them reimbursed" argument is. Sometimes I wonder how these lawyers got into college, let alone law school.


1. All in all the Capitol v. Foster case is a landmark case FOR THE DEFENDANTS.

2. Yes I agree that there's been a lot of good news lately.

3. Now if Judge Karas dismisses the complaint in Barker, and Judge Trager grants the in limine motion to exclude Jacobson, we will be at the beginning of the end of the RIAA's war of oppression.

Ray Beckerman said...

Dan said...

I do think it's crazy that the plaintiffs claim that Ms. Foster inflated the costs by refusing to settle.


They say a lot of crazy things.