RIAA loses in file sharing case
7/13/2006 3:10:41 PM, by Eric Bangeman
Mothers. You've got to love them. They give birth to us, feed us, clothe us, teach us to chew with our mouths closed, and go to bat for us against the RIAA. Sometimes they win (PDF).
An Oklahoma mother, Debbie Foster, was accused by the RIAA of copyright infringement back in November 2004, and her daughter Amanda was added to the complaint in July 2005. According to the RIAA, the Internet account paid for by Debbie Foster was used for file sharing, with an unspecified number of songs downloaded.
The music group offered to settle the case for US$5,000, but Foster decided to take her chances in court. She requested that the RIAA provide specifics such as the dates of the alleged downloading and the files involved. The RIAA failed to provide the requested information and Foster filed a motion for summary judgment. In turn, the RIAA decided to cut its losses and asked the court to withdraw its case. The court approved the RIAA's request, but named Foster the winner and awarded her attorneys fees over the RIAA's objections.
In his opinion, Judge Lee R. West wrote, "because this Court finds that the plaintiffs' voluntary dismissal with prejudice services as a complete adjudication of the issues set forth in their complaint and acts as a bar to further action on their claims, the court concludes the matter has been finally adjudicated in the defendant's favor... [which] represents a judicially sanctioned material alteration in the legal relationship between Deborah Foster and the plaintiffs. Ms. Foster is therefore the prevailing party for purposes of the Copyright Act."
Debbie Foster is not the only mother to stand up to the RIAA. A 42-year-old disabled, single mother from Oregon, Tanya Anderson, is currently fighting the RIAA's file-sharing allegations. She denies downloading hip-hop over Kazaa and decided to fight back after being contacted by the Settlement Support Center. There is also the case of Patricia Santangelo, a divorced mother of five living in New York. Her case is currently headed for trial in the US District Court of the Southern District of New York, after a motion to dismiss was denied.
We contacted the RIAA for comment on the case, but it declined to comment on the specifics of the case.