United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division
Melinda Scott, Pro Se Plaintiff.
Carlson, Pro Se Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Jones, United States District Judge.
plaintiff in this case, proceeding pro se, seeks injunctive
relief and damages for copyright infringement. Because she
has not satisfied the preregistration requirement for an
infringement suit, I will grant the defendant's Motion to
Dismiss and deny the plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment and Motion to Strike.
plaintiff claims that the defendant is distributing videos
that belong to the plaintiff's business without her
consent, and that the defendant is distributing videos
containing the logo of the plaintiff's company. She asks
the court to order the defendant to remove all of her videos
from YouTube - the internet video-sharing service - and to
prohibit him from distributing any written material that
belongs to her or her business. She seeks damages in the
amount of $750 per video, per day that it was published, as
well as damages for any additional copyright infringements
occurring between the date her Complaint was filed and a
future hearing in this case.
plaintiff has moved for “Summary Judgment on the
Pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) and Rule 56.” Mot. for
Summ. J. 1, ECF No. 14. The defendant has filed a Motion to
Dismiss. The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for
decision. The plaintiff also filed a Motion to
Strike in response to the defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
I will treat this motion as the plaintiff's brief in
opposition to the Motion to Dismiss.
Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 501(b), grants a copyright
owner the right to sue for infringement. A copyright
infringement action thus arises under federal law for
purposes of the federal question jurisdiction statute, see 28
U.S.C. § 1331, and Congress also separately provided for
federal jurisdiction over intellectual property cases, 28
U.S.C. § 1338(a).
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of a complaint. . . .” Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A motion
to dismiss “does not resolve contests surrounding the
facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin,
980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). In ruling on a motion to
dismiss, the court must regard as true all of the factual
allegations contained in the complaint, Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), and must view those
facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 406 (2002).
Where the plaintiff is proceeding without a lawyer, the court
has an obligation to construe the complaint liberally.
See Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir.
defendant argues, among other things, that the Complaint must
be dismissed because the plaintiff did not register her
copyrights as required to recover statutory damages under 17
U.S.C. § 412. The plaintiff responds that whether she
preregistered her work is irrelevant because she is seeking
statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. §§ 504 and 501.
She asserts that she is entitled to relief under 17 U.S.C.
§§ 106A(a) and 412.
Copyright Act generally provides that “no civil action
for infringement of the copyright in any United States work
shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of
the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this
title.” 17 U.S.C. § 411(a). The Supreme Court held
in 2010 that this “registration requirement is a
precondition to filing a claim that does not restrict a
federal court's subject-matter jurisdiction.”
Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 559 U.S. 154, 157
(2010). Nevertheless, the registration requirement is an
element of a cause of action for infringement that must be
pleaded and proved by the plaintiff. See Fourth Estate
Pub. Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.Com, LLC, 856 F.3d
1338, 1342 (11th Cir. 2017); Airframe Sys., Inc. v. L-3
Commc'ns Corp., 658 F.3d 100, 105 (1st Cir. 2011).
is no exception to the preregistration requirement for
infringement suits seeking statutory damages under 17 U.S.C.
§ 504. That section of the Copyright Act simply sets
forth the damages to which a successful plaintiff may be
entitled. Section 501 explicitly states that a copyright
owner's right to relief is “subject to ...