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Williams v. Scribd, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of California

June 23, 2010, Decided; June 23, 2010, Filed

CASE NO. 09cv1836-LAB (WMc)

Opinion

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Larry Williams is a commodities trader who writes books and conducts seminars on the subject. He holds a copyright in many of his books. Defendant Scribd is a "social publishing" website that allows authors and other members of the public to upload written content. Scribd considers itself a "powerful tool that removes barriers between authors, publishers, and readers." (Consagra Decl. P 4.) Williams, however, considers it a copyright infringer. He alleges that a Scribd member who uses the alias "GalaxiaMia Guy" 1 uploaded onto the Scribd website, with Scribd's knowledge and assistance, hundreds of pages of Williams's copyrighted material, amounting to at least six of Williams's books. (FAC P 19.) He also alleges that Scribd was slow to remove the material  [*2] upon his request that it do so. Williams brings causes of action for copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and misappropriation of the right of publicity.

II. Procedural History

Williams filed his complaint on August 25, 2009, and Scribd moved to dismiss on November 30, 2009. Around the time that Williams's opposition brief was due, he filed an amended complaint. Three days later, with the motion to dismiss still on the Court's calendar and the legitimacy of the amended complaint in question, Williams filed an opposition brief. The amended complaint was in fact untimely under Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Court ordered Williams to obtain Scribd's consent to amend, or else persuade the Court that leave to amend should be granted. (Doc. No. 11.)

The Court subsequently granted Williams leave to amend, and gave Scribd the option of either withdrawing its pending motion to dismiss and filing a new one or explaining in its reply brief why the amended complaint still failed to state a claim. Scribd chose the latter course. It filed a reply brief  [*3] on February 13, 2010, and Williams filed a sur-reply on February 22, 2010.

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2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90496 *

LARRY WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, vs. SCRIBD, INC., a corporation; et al., Defendants.

CORE TERMS

infringing, website, copyright infringement, motion to dismiss, uploaded, alleges, contributory, vicarious, service provider, safe harbor, users, subscribers, summary judgment, expeditiously, argues, advertising, internet, emails, vicarious liability, amended complaint, financial benefit, misappropriation, friends, ability to control, right of publicity, actual knowledge, quotations, documents, qualifies, download