Recent copyright infringement litigation involving major parties such as the television show South Park and the rock group Green Day has resulted in substantial awards of attorney fees for the defendants. In the case involving Green Day, the plaintiff, an independent artist, was ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in fees and costs to the defendants. Similarly, in the case involving South Park, a viral video copyright owner was ordered to pay more than $30,000. Despite these large awards, the plaintiffs in these cases did not act frivolously or capriciously in bringing these actions.
The necessity of informing clients of potential cost in litigating an action is now compounded by the likelihood of paying the defendant’s attorney fees. This possible liability also affects the value of the potential case. Lawyers must be sensitive to these considerations in order to protect both themselves and the client.