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CHICAGO � Two Oklahoma City attorneys are the first lawyers to win a federal court order forcing record companies to pay legal fees in a case brought against a woman and her daughter for infringing on copyrights while downloading music on the Internet. Sole practitioners Marilyn Barringer-Thomson, who was the lead attorney on the case, and Warren Henson won payment of $68,685 for their work on behalf of Deborah and Amanda Foster, who were sued by Capitol Records Inc., UMG Recordings and other music companies in 2004. The companies agreed to dismiss the lawsuit last July after it was shown that Foster didn’t own a computer, though her daughter may have downloaded the music. Capitol Record et al. vs. Debbie Foster, No. 04-1569 (W.D. Okla.). U.S. District Judge Lee West in the Western District of Oklahoma this week brushed aside arguments by the record companies, which have brought hundreds of such lawsuits nationwide, that Foster wouldn’t have incurred the fees if she had cooperated with their copyright infringement investigation. “The defendant was entitled to litigate the claims the plaintiffs chose to bring against her and, as the prevailing party on those claims, she is entitled to recover the reasonable attorneys’ fees,” West said in her order. Although the attorneys had sought $114,363, Barringer-Thomson said in an interview that they were “happy” with the outcome. She’s also seeking legal fees in a similar Oklahoma case and is representing some Oklahoma State University students who have been sued by the record companies. “Short of litigation there must be a better way for the artists and labels to get this out to the public,” said Barringer-Thomson, who faulted the industry for broadly suing the owners of Internet accounts as opposed to pinpointing the people who may have used the accounts to download music. Richard Gabriel, an attorney at Holme, Roberts & Owen who represents the record companies, declined to comment and referred calls to the Recording Industry Association of America, which is coordinating the lawsuits. “We respectfully believe that this ruling is in error and is an isolated occurrence,” said association spokeswoman Cara Duckworth, pointing to five other cases in which fees were denied. The association did win a default judgment against the daughter Amanda.

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