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The Thompsons Film, LLC v. Kappen

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

September 3, 2014

THE THOMPSONS FILM, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ROSS KAPPEN, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AS AGAINST HAYES, KAPPEN, MAXWELL, AND URENA

THOMAS O. RICE, District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgments and Permanent Injunctions against Defendants Hayes, Kappen, Maxwell, and Urena (ECF No. 108). This matter was submitted for consideration without oral argument. The Court has reviewed the motion and the record and files herein and is fully informed.

FACTS[1]

This is an action concerning alleged copyright infringement of a motion picture. Plaintiff The Thompsons Film, LLC, is a limited liability company that produced the motion picture at issue in this matter, The Thompsons. Defendants are identified as having at least one of the following roles: 1) BitTorrent users or peers whose computers are collectively interconnected and used for illegally copying and distributing Plaintiff's motion picture; 2) contributing to the infringement of Plaintiff's copyright by others; 3) permitting, facilitating, and/or promoting the use of the internet access identified by the IP address for the infringing of Plaintiff's exclusive rights under the Copyright Act by others.

BitTorrent is an interactive peer-to-peer file transfer technology protocol. Peer-to-peer networks, in their most common form, are computer systems enabling users to make files stored on each user's computer available for copying by other users, to search for files stored on other users' computers, and to transfer exact copies of the files from one computer to another via the internet. The complaint alleges that Plaintiff has recorded each Defendant identified (through his or her IP address) as actually copying and publishing Plaintiff's motion picture via BitTorrent, as Plaintiff's investigator has downloaded the motion picture from each Defendant. Plaintiff alleges that, upon information and belief, each Defendant was a willing and knowing participant in the file transfer "swarm" at issue and engaged in such participation for the purpose of infringing Plaintiff's copyright.

Plaintiff sued Defendants, claiming copyright infringement, contributory infringement, and indirect infringement of copyright. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint requests damages of $30, 000 from each Defendant pursuant to 17 U.S.C. ยง 504(c)(1) for its claims of infringement and contributory infringement, and damages of not more than the statutory minimum of $750.00 on its indirect infringement claim. Plaintiff also requests entry of permanent injunctions enjoining each Defendant from directly, contributorily or indirectly infringing Plaintiff's rights in Plaintiff's motion picture, and reasonable costs and attorney fees.

The Clerk of Court has entered orders of default for all Defendants named in the instant motion. Despite being properly served, as of the date of this Order, the Non-Appearing Defendants have not filed an answer or moved to set aside their default. Plaintiff now moves for default judgment seeking the relief requested in its First Amended Complaint.

DISCUSSION

Motions for entry of default judgment are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b). Rule 55(b)(1) provides that the Clerk of Court may enter default judgment when the plaintiff's claim "is for a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). When the value of the claim cannot be readily determined, or when the claim is for non-monetary relief, the plaintiff must move the court for entry of default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). In such circumstances, the court has broad discretion to marshal any evidence necessary in order to calculate an appropriate award. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2)(A)-(D). At the default judgment stage, well-pleaded factual allegations are considered admitted and are sufficient to establish a defendant's liability, but allegations regarding the amount of damages must be proven. Geddes v. United Fin. Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977); Microsoft Corp. v. Lopez, 2009 WL 959219 (W.D.Wash. 2009). The court must ensure that the amount of damages is reasonable and demonstrated by the evidence. See Fed. R. CIv. P. 55(b); Getty Images (US), Inc. v. Virtual Clinics, 2014 WL 358412 (W.D.Wash. 2014).

The entry of default judgment under Rule 55(b) is "an extreme measure." Cmty. Dental Servs. v. Tani, 282 F.3d 1164, 1170 (9th Cir. 2002). "As a general rule, default judgments are disfavored; cases should be decided upon their merits whenever reasonably possible." Westchester Fire Ins. Co. v. Mendez, 585 F.3d 1183, 1189 (9th Cir. 2009). In determining whether to enter default judgment, a court should consider the following factors: "(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff; (2) the merits of the plaintiff's substantive claim; (3) the sufficiency of the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake in the action; (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect; and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits." Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72; see also United States v. VanDenburgh, 249 F.Appx. 664, 665 (2007).

The Court considers each of the factors in turn.

1. Possibility of Prejudice to Plaintiff

Despite having been properly served, the Non-Appearing Defendants have failed to plead or otherwise defend. As a result, Plaintiff's claims against them cannot move forward on the merits, and Plaintiff's ability to obtain effective relief has been ...


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