Disabled single mother Tanya Andersen has won over $100,000 in legal fees after fighting the false accusation that she illegally shared music files.
Andersen's lawyers were awarded costs and interest by a US Federal Court. The Recording Industry Association of America had reportedly offered $30,000 then $60,000 before being ordered to settle the full amount.
The RIAA alleged four years ago that Andersen and her eight year-old daughter were downloading gangster rap songs to their home computer.
The woman offered to let investigators examine her PC but they declined and said they would prosecute unless paid several thousand dollars.
"'You're going to have to pay us, or this won't go away,'" she claims she was told, according to an interview in Business Week.
Eventually Andersen was served with papers and the court case began. She was defended on a no-win no-fee basis by Seattle lawyer Lory Lybeck.
"I said to myself, either she's a good actor and a good liar, or what they have done to her is really crummy," said Lybeck.
During the case Andersen submitted her PC to the music industry legal team for analysis. After the analysis was complete the RIAA refused to release the report, but was forced to by the court. It stated that there was no evidence of piracy.
The court gave the RIAA until 1 June last year to produce evidence to back up its case. When the deadline came the RIAA dropped the case and promised no more action.
However, Andersen was so incensed that she launched a legal case of her own against the record companies and the investigators they use.
"The RIAA is fighting very hard to make sure that [Andersen's case] never reaches a jury," said Heidi Li Feldman, a professor at Georgetown University's law school. "The minute this reaches a jury, they will have to think about settling."
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