Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

February 15, 2017

LHF PRODUCTIONS, INC, Plaintiff,
v.
DOE 1, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART LHF'S MOTIONS FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I.INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff LHF Productions, Inc.'s (“LHF”) Motion for Default Judgment Against Lauren Burks (Dkt. #71), Motion for Default Judgment against William Aely (Dkt. #73), Motion for Default Judgment Against Tamika Greene (Dkt. #75), Motion for Default Judgment Against Curtis Stout (Dkt. #77), Motion for Default Judgment Against Donald Smith (Dkt. #79), Motion for Default Judgment Against Lucy Gathu (Dkt. #81), Motion for Default Judgment Against Douglas Cottrell (Dkt. #83), and Motion for Default Judgment Against David Alvarez Jr. (Dkt. #85). Having reviewed the relevant briefing and the remainder of the record, LHF's motions for default judgment (Dkts. #71, #73, #75, #77, #79, #81, #83, and #85) are GRANTED IN PART for the reasons discussed below.

         II. BACKGROUND

         LHF's motions for default judgment are just a portion of more than fifty default judgment motions filed by LHF in ten of sixteen related cases before the Court.[1] All sixteen cases assert the same cause of action. LHF alleges that close to two hundred named defendants unlawfully infringed its exclusive copyright to the motion picture London Has Fallen, which it developed and produced, by copying and distributing the film over the Internet through a peer-to-peer network using the BitTorrent protocol. Plaintiff uncovered the identities of the alleged infringers after serving several internet service providers (“ISP”s) with subpoenas issued by the Court. Amended complaints identifying the alleged infringers were subsequently filed.

         Defendants Burks, Aely, Greene, Stout, Smith, Gathu, Cottrell, and Alvarez (collectively “Defendants”) are named in the same Amended Complaint because, given the unique identifier associated with a particular digital copy of London Has Fallen, along with the timeframe when the internet protocol address associated with a named Defendant accessed that unique identifier, LHF alleges the named Defendants were all part of the same “swarm” of users that reproduced, distributed, displayed, and/or performed the copyrighted work. Dkt. #14 ¶¶ 10, 30-36, 41, 46. According to LHF, “[t]he temporal proximity of the observed acts of each Defendant, together with the known propensity of BitTorrent participants to actively exchange files continuously for hours and even days, makes it possible that Defendants either directly exchanged the motion picture with each other, or did so through intermediaries . . . .” Id. ¶ 36.

         In the instant action, Defendants did not respond to LHF's Amended Complaint. The Court entered default against Defendants after they failed to respond to LHF's Amended Complaint. See Dkts. #46, #47, #61, #62, #63, #64, #69, and #70. LHF's motions for default judgment against Defendants are now before the Court.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Based on this Court's Order of Default and pursuant to Rule 55(a), the Court has the authority to enter a default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). However, prior to entering default judgment, the Court must determine whether the well-pleaded allegations of a plaintiff's complaint establish a defendant's liability. Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). In making this determination, courts must accept the well-pleaded allegations of a complaint, except those related to damage amounts, as established fact. Televideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987). If those facts establish liability the court may, but has no obligation to, enter a default judgment against a defendant. Alan Neuman Prods. Inc. v. Albright, 862 F.2d 1388, 1392 (9th Cir. 1988) (“Clearly, the decision to enter a default judgment is discretionary.”). Plaintiffs must provide the court with evidence to establish the propriety of a particular sum of damages sought. Televideo, 826 F.2d at 917-18.

         A. Liability Determination.

         The allegations in LHF's Amended Complaint establish Defendants' liability for copyright infringement. To establish copyright infringement, LHF must demonstrate ownership of a valid copyright and that Defendants copied “constituent elements of the work that are original.” L.A. Printex Indus., Inc. v. Aeropostale, Inc., 676 F.3d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991)). Here, LHF alleges it owns the exclusive copyright to the motion picture London Has Fallen. Dkt. #14 ¶¶ 5-9. LHF also alleges that Defendants all participated in the same “swarm” that unlawfully copied and/or distributed the same digital copy of London Has Fallen. Id. ¶¶ 10, 30-36, 41, 46. Because Defendants did not respond to LHF's complaint, the Court must accept the allegations in LHF's Amended Complaint as true. See Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 8(b)(6). Accordingly, LHF has established Defendants' liability.

         B. Default Judgment is Warranted.

         The Court must next determine whether to exercise discretion to enter a default judgment. Courts consider the following factors in making this determination:

“(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff, (2) the merits of 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, 782 F.2d at 1471-72.

         The majority of these factors weigh in favor of granting default judgment against Defendants. LHF may be prejudiced without the entry of default judgment as it will be left without a legal remedy. See Landstar Ranger, Inc. v. Parth Enters, Inc., 725 F.Supp.2d 916, 920 (C.D. Cal. 2010) (finding plaintiff would suffer prejudice where denying default judgment would leave plaintiff without remedy). LHF's Amended Complaint is also sufficient, and Defendants did not present any evidence or argument to the contrary. Additionally, the Court finds there is a low probability that default against Defendants was due to excusable neglect; Defendants were given ample opportunity to respond to the filings in this matter between the time they were served with LHF's Amended Complaint and when LHF filed its motions for default judgment. Finally, although there is a strong policy favoring decisions on the merits, the Court may consider Defendants' failure to respond to LHF's Amended Complaint and its subsequent motions as an admission that LHF's motions have merit. See Local Civil Rule 7(b)(2) (“[I]f a party fails to file papers in opposition to a motion, such failure may be considered by the court as an admission that the motion has merit.”).

         However, the Court acknowledges that a dispute concerning the material facts alleged by LHF may arise. See Qotd Film Inv. Ltd. v. Starr, No. C16-0371RSL, 2016 WL 5817027, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 5, 2016) (acknowledging that dispute concerning material facts may arise in BitTorrent infringement cases). The Court also acknowledges that the amount at stake is not, as LHF contends, modest - LHF seeks enhanced statutory damages in the amount of $2, 500 along with between $2, 284 and $2, 400 in attorneys' fees, and between $93.53 and $148.53 in costs, for each named Defendant in this matter. See Dkts. #71 at 5-6, #72 ¶¶ 11-12, #73 at 5-6, #74 ¶¶ 11-12, #75 at 5-6, #76 ¶¶11-12, #77 at 5-6, #78 ¶¶ 11-12, #79 at 5-6, #80 ¶¶ 11-12, #81 at 5-6, #82 ¶¶ 11-12, #83 at 5-6, #84 ¶¶ 11-12, #85 at 5-6, and #86 at ¶¶ 11-12. Notwithstanding these considerations, the Eitel factors weigh in favor of granting default judgment against Defendants.

         C. Appropriate Relief.

         The Court next considers what relief to grant LHF. LHF seeks the following three categories of relief from each defendant: (1) permanent injunctive relief; (2) statutory damages; and (3) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.