By Jonathan Zavin of Loeb & Loeb LLP
S.D. New York, April 7, 2011
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11, 2010, the court granted summary judgment to plaintiff record companies on
their claims against defendants for secondary copyright infringement.
Defendants were affiliated with the LimeWire online file-sharing network, and
the court found that they had induced hundreds if not thousands of users of
LimeWire to use the system to infringe plaintiffs' copyrights.
litigation is now in the damages phase, with a trial on damages scheduled for
May 2, 2011.
10, 2011, the court held that plaintiffs are entitled to a single statutory
damage award from defendants for each "work" infringed, notwithstanding that
many individual direct infringers may have infringed that particular work on
the LimeWire system.
decision, the court addressed the defendants' assertion that plaintiffs are
precluded from recovering a statutory damage award from defendants with respect
to 104 sound recordings for which plaintiffs have already recovered a statutory
damage award from an individual direct infringer with whom defendants are
jointly and severally liable. The court stated that there is little guidance on
this issue because the issue of whether a plaintiff should be precluded from recovering
a statutory damage award from a secondarily liable inducer, with respect to
those sound recordings for which that plaintiff has already obtained a judgment
against an individual direct infringer, "has never been addressed."
504 of the Copyright Act provides that a copyright owner may elect to recover
"an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action,
with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable
individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and
severally." The court held that this language "does not speak to the issue of
whether an award in one action precludes an award in a later action.
Specifically, Section 504 does not state that a copyright owner is limited to a
single statutory damage award for each work, no matter how many actions the
owner brings. Rather, the language, 'all infringements involved in this
action,' is included in Section 504 to make clear that a plaintiff copyright
owner may obtain only one statutory damage award per work in any one action,
regardless of the number of times that a particular work is infringed."
to the court, Section 504 speaks about limiting statutory awards based on
infringements involved in "this action"; it does not speak to precluding
statutory awards across different actions. "The statute does not state that an
award of statutory damages against a defendant in one action has an effect on a
statutory award against a different defendant in a different action."
court also stated that with respect to those 104 works for which plaintiffs
have recovered a statutory damage award from a direct infringer, it will be
permissible for the fact-finder to consider that plaintiffs have already
recovered from a direct infringer for some portion of the infringement that
defendants induced, because defendants are jointly and severally liable with
those direct infringers.
For more information, please contact Jonathan Zavin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 212.407.4161. Circular
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