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Inc. v. Ahmed

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division

January 29, 2018

ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MOHAMED AHMED, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge.

         In this copyright infringement action, plaintiff ME2 Productions, Inc. ("ME2") moves for default judgment against defendants Mohamed Ahmed, Marisol Amaya, Daud Jan, and Robin Stultz, pursuant to Rule 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated, the motions will be granted.

         Background

         In reviewing motions for default judgment, the court accepts the plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations as to liability as true. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001).

         ME2, a Nevada corporation that holds the copyright to the film "Mechanic: Resurrection, " alleges that the defendants violated its copyright by using BitTorrent to copy and distribute the film. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-13, 22-24, Docket No. 12. BitTorrent allows an initial file provider "to share a file with a torrent network." Id. ¶ 18. The users who join the network can then distribute an entire file by each downloading a different bit of data. Id. Plaintiff identified the defendants through the IP addresses used when infringing activity occurred. Id. ¶ 22.

         On June 30, 2017, plaintiff filed an amended complaint against the defendants for willfully violating the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. After properly serving the defendants and not receiving a response, plaintiff moved for entry of default against Ahmed, Amaya, Jan, and Stultz. Pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Clerk entered default against each of those defendants. Plaintiff has now moved for default judgment against them, and the matter is ripe for disposition.

         Standard of Review

         Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes a two-step process for obtaining a default judgment. Jefferson v. Briner, Inc.. 461 F.Supp.2d 430, 433 (E.D. Va. 2006). First, "the [C]lerk must enter the party's default." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Second, a party may move the court for default judgment under Rule 55(b).

         In reviewing a motion for default judgment, the court views all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true for purposes of liability. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6) ("An allegation-other than one relating to the amount of damages-is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied."); see also Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780 ("The defendant, by his default, admits the plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations of fact.") (internal citation omitted)). Consequently, in the default judgment context, "the appropriate inquiry is whether or not the face of the pleadings supports the default judgment and the causes of action therein." Anderson v. Found, for Advancement, Educ. & Emp't of Am. Indians. 187 F.3d 628 (4th Cir. Aug. 10, 1999) (unpublished table opinion).

         If the facts alleged in the complaint establish liability, then the court must determine the appropriate amount of damages. Ryan. 253 F.3d at 780-81. The court may make a determination as to the amount of damages without a hearing if the record contains sufficient evidence to support the award. Anderson v. Found, for Advancement, Educ. & Employment of Am. Indians, 155 F.3d 500, 507 (4th Cir. 1998) (noting that "in some circumstances a district court entering a default judgment may award damages ascertainable from the pleadings without holding a hearing"); Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Capital Restoration & Painting Co., 919 F.Supp.2d 680, 684 (D. Md. 2013) (finding that the court need not conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine damages and "may rely instead on affidavits or documentary evidence in the record to determine the appropriate sum").

         Discussion

         To establish copyright infringement, "two elements must be proven: (1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original." Feist Publ'ns. Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991). For purposes of a default judgment, the court believes that plaintiff has established both elements. Plaintiff has alleged that it owned a valid copyright, and that the copyrighted material was copied and distributed from the defendants' IP addresses using BitTorrent. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-12, 18, 22, Ex. A, B.

         Accordingly, the court will now turn to the appropriate relief in this case. Plaintiff requests an injunction prohibiting further infringement of "Mechanic: Resurrection, " statutory damages in the amount of $6, 000 per defendant, and costs and attorney's fees.

         I. ...


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