On September 8, 2003, the recording industry sued 261 American music fans for sharing songs on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks, kicking off an unprecedented legal campaign against its own customers. The recording industry has now filed, settled, or threatened, legal actions against well over 20,000 individuals, and there is no end in sight. While the strategy of forcing ordinary music fans to pay thousands of dollars that they do not have to settle RIAA-member lawsuits is itself troubling, many innocent individuals are also being caught in the crossfire.
Along with defending P2P software developers and their right to innovate, EFF has been fighting for a better way forward that gets artists paid without fans getting sued, which you can find more about on our Let the Music Play campaign page. Below, we've provided a collection of resources that may be useful to music fans caught up in the RIAA lawsuit campaign and the lawyers who defend them. You can also learn more about how EFF has helped music fans stand up to the RIAA's overreaching claims in court. If you have been sued or need actual legal advice, consider contacting EFF or www.subpoenadefense.org -- we may be able to refer you to a lawyer or provide other assistance.
Capitol v. Foster
Debbie Foster, a single mom who was improperly sued by the RIAA back in 2004 for file sharing, not only got the lawsuit dismissed but also won back her attorneys' fees. The court's decision is one of the first in the country to award fees to a defendant in an RIAA case over music sharing on the Internet. EFF and several other groups filed an amicus brief supporting Ms Foster's motion. View Case Page
The RIAA has been making the erroneous argument that P2P users violate copyright holders' distribution right. While P2P users might violate other rights, this claim would twist the Copyright Act if accepted by courts and create dangerous consequences far beyond file sharing. EFF has filed amicus briefs in several cases on this point.
Learn more: "Transmission + Reproduction != Distribution" February 27, 2006