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Inc. v. Fox

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 26, 2018

ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CLEO FOX, Defendant.

          OPINION

          John A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiffs, ME2 Productions, Inc., motion for entry of default judgment. (Dk. No. 15.) The plaintiff brought this action against Cleo Fox for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 101. The plaintiff alleges Fox violated its copyright to the film Mechanic: Resurrection by using BitTorrent, a file-sharing system, to illegally copy and distribute the film. The plaintiff served Fox with the amended complaint on July 17, 2017. After Fox failed to file responsive pleadings, the plaintiff moved for entry of default. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 55(a), the Clerk entered default on November 3, 2017. The plaintiff now moves for default judgment. The Court held a hearing on the motion on March 26, 2018.

         I. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

         Under Rule 55(b), when a defendant defaults, he admits the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Thus, in reviewing a motion for default judgment, courts accept plaintiffs' well-pleaded allegations regarding liability as true. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001). Courts must then determine whether the allegations support the relief sought. Id.

         To establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must show (1) the plaintiff owns a valid copyright, and (2) the defendant copied constituent original elements of the work. ME2 Prods., Inc. v. Ahmed, __ F.Supp.3d __, 2018 WL 585547, at *2 (W.D. Va. Jan. 29, 2018) (citing Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991)). Here, the plaintiff pleads the elements of infringement by alleging that it owned a valid copyright, and that the defendant copied and distributed the copyrighted material through a BitTorrent network.[1]

         The Court now turns to the appropriate relief in this case. The plaintiff requests a permanent injunction prohibiting future infringement, $6, 000 in statutory damages, and $5, 120 in costs and attorney's fees.

         II. INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

         The Copyright Act authorizes courts to grant injunctions as they deem reasonable to prevent copyright infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 502(a). A permanent injunction is "appropriate when the nature of the infringement prevents an adequate remedy at law, and...a threat of continuing infringement exists." Ahmed, 2018 WL 585547, at *2.

         Here, the plaintiff adequately pled a claim for copyright infringement, and the record lacks any indication the defendant will abstain from future infringement. Accordingly, the Court grants the plaintiffs request for a permanent injunction.

         III. STATUTORY DAMAGES

         In lieu of actual damages and profits, the Copyright Act authorizes plaintiffs to recover statutory damages between $750 and $30, 000 per work, "as the court considers just." 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1). Where plaintiffs prove willful infringement, courts may award up to $150, 000. 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2). Courts have broad discretion within the statutory range. Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe, No. TDC-15-3185, 2018 WL 329041, at *1 (D. Md. Jan. 5, 2018). In determining statutory damages, courts have considered a variety of factors, including:

(1) whether the defendant was the original provider of the infringed content to its distribution network; (2) whether, and how much, the defendant profited or saved in connection with the infringement; (3) the plaintiffs actual losses; (4) the deterrent effect of statutory damages; and (5) the defendant's willfulness and intent in infringing the plaintiffs protected content.

Id. at *2.

         Here, the plaintiff does not allege that the defendant was the original user who made the film available to others. See Malibu Media, LLC v. [Redacted], No. CCB-15-1700, 2016 WL 245235, at *2 (D. Md. Jan. 21, 2016) (finding "no evidence suggesting the defendant was the original 'seed' or provider of the protected content on the BitTorrent network"). Nor does the plaintiff allege the defendant received any specific ...


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