In the early days of the RIAA lawsuits, it seemed like judges just took the RIAA's word on things, but that's long since changed as lawyers defending those accused have become more sophisticated -- often realizing that the RIAA research tactics were questionable, the evidence they had was quite flimsy and the system was guaranteed to accuse all sorts of innocent people without much support. As this has happened, judges have become increasingly skeptical of these RIAA lawsuits and those who haven't done anything wrong actually (finally) have a decent chance of pointing out that the RIAA's evidence is wrong. And, in fact, judges are increasingly pushing the RIAA to pay the legal fees
of the people they falsely accuse. In the latest such decision, a judge has smacked down the RIAA and ordered them to pay the legal fees
in the case of Tanya Andersen. You may recall that the RIAA had accused Andersen of copyright infringement a few years ago -- and then continued to pressure and intimidate her long after it became quite obvious that Andersen clearly was not guilty of what the RIAA was accusing her of doing. The RIAA eventually dropped the case, but Andersen wanted her legal fees paid (separately, she's also suing
the RIAA, claiming their investigation techniques are illegal).
The ruling from the judge on paying the legal fees is well worth reading, as it suggests yet another judge is sick and tired of the RIAA assuming that it can just throw up some flimsy evidence and then bully people into paying:
Copyright holders generally, and these plaintiffs specifically, should be deterred from prosecuting infringement claims as plaintiffs did in this case. Plaintiffs exerted a significant amount of control over the course of discovery, repeatedly and successfully seeking the court's assistance through an unusually extended and contentious period of discovery disputes. Nonetheless, after ample opportunity to develop their claims, they dismissed them at the point they were required to
produce evidence for the court's consideration of the merits..... this case provides too little assurance that a prosecuting party won't deem an infringement claim unsupportable until after the prevailing defendant has been forced to mount a considerable defense, and undergo all that entails, including the incurring of substantial attorney fees.