Innocent Man Seeks Legal Fees From RIAA

    March 26, 2008

A man falsely accused of file sharing by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is asking the U.S. Supreme Court if the RIAA will have to pay his legal fees.

"This case is about the ability of an innocent defendant accused of copyright infringement to defend himself in court, litigate his defenses, and, if successful, recover his attorney’s fees to the same extent as a prevailing plaintiff would under the same circumstances," argued Cliff Thompson of San Antonio, Tex. in his petition.

The RIAA filed a suit against Thompson in 2004, but later dropped the case. The RIAA then went after Thompson’s adult daughter alleging she was the one at fault. Thompson said he spent about $7,500 to defend himself.

The RIAA normally goes after individuals after tracking a users IP address to uploading activity on a peer-to-peer site. Frequently the user that is linked to the IP address is not the one violating copyright law.

So far the RIAA has sued more than 20,000 people for copyright infringement. Most of the cases are settled out of court for $3,000 to $4,000. The courts have ordered the RIAA to pay attorney fees in two cases where the defendants were falsely accused.