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Criminal Productions, Inc. v. Gunderman

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

July 27, 2017

CRIMINAL PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DARRELL GUNDERMAN, et al., Defendants. Case / Dkt. Defendant Atty. Hours Atty. Fees Legal Assist. Hours Legal Assist. Fees Costs Total Defendant Statutory Damages Atty. Fees, Legal Assist. Fees, and Costs Total

          ORDER

          The Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Criminal Productions, Inc.'s sixteen nearly identical motions for default judgment in the above captioned cases. Plaintiff seeks default judgment against the following Defendants: Reina Marroquin, Greg Gordon Sr., Michael Stoker, Maria Hull, Collin Kelly, Phillip Pisciotta, Jeff Corder, Kueejin Eum, James Puckett, Liang Deng, Valerie Mosser, Joseph David Orndonez, Kristin White, Blessings Kambala, Liam McDonald, and Sarah Larson. These motions are noted on the Court's docket as follows: C16-729-RAJ, Dkt. # 88 (Marroquin), # 90 (Gordon Sr.); C16-1177-RAJ, Dkt. # 49 (Stoker), # 51 (Hull); C16-1272-RAJ, Dkt. # 62 (Kelly), # 64 (Pisciotta), # 66 (Corder), # 68 (Eum), # 70 (Puckett); C16-1352-RAJ, Dkt. # 66 (Deng), # 68 (Mosser), # 70 (Orndonez), # 72 (White), # 74 (Kambala); C16-1351-RAJ, Dkt. # 61 (McDonald), and Dkt. # 63 (Larson). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the motions and enters default judgment against Defendants.

         II. BACKGROUND

         These cases are among ten nearly identical actions filed between May 2016 and January 2017 alleging copyright infringement by various Doe Defendants who participated in BitTorrent “swarms.”

         The facts are straightforward. Plaintiff is a developer and producer of the motion picture Criminal. See, e.g., C16-729, Dkt. # 14 (Am. Compl.) ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff owns a registered copyright in Criminal, Registration No. PA 1-984-029. Id. ¶ 6. All Defendants-including those against whom Plaintiff seeks default judgment-are alleged to have participated in a peer-to-peer network using the BitTorrent protocol[1] to download and share Criminal. These Defendants are each alleged to have used or shared an IP address which was observed sharing Criminal.[2] Plaintiff has not authorized any Defendant to use an online media distribution system, including BitTorrent, to misappropriate, reproduce, or distribute Criminal to the public. See, e.g., C16-729, Dkt. # 14 (Am. Compl.) ¶ 46.

         The Court has entered an order of default for failure to answer, plead, or otherwise defend as to each of the Defendants against whom Plaintiff seeks default judgment. Id., Dkt. # 82 (Marroquin and Gordon Sr.); C16-1177, Dkt. # 38 (Hull), # 42 (Stoker); C16- 1272, Dkt. # 49 (Kelly, Pisciotta, Corder, Eum, and Puckett); C16-1352, Dkt. # 36 (Mosser and White), # 49 (Deng, Orndonez, and Kambala); C16-1351-RAJ, Dkt. # 42 (McDonald), Dkt. # 39 (Larson).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) authorizes a court to grant default judgment. Typically, default judgment is entered after the Clerk of Court has entered default under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), but district courts also have that authority. See Dreith v. Nu Image, Inc., 648 F.3d 779, 789 (9th Cir. 2011). The Court's role in considering a motion for default judgment is not ministerial. The Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as established fact, except facts related to the amount of damages. TeleVideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987). Where those facts establish a defendant's liability, the Court has discretion, not an obligation, to enter a default judgment. Alan Neuman Prods., Inc. v. Albright, 862 F.2d 1388, 1392 (9th Cir. 1988); Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). The plaintiff must provide evidence to support a claim for a particular sum of damages. TeleVideo Sys., 826 F.2d at 917-18; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2)(B). Where the plaintiff cannot prove that the sum he seeks is “a liquidated sum or capable of mathematical calculation, ” the Court must conduct a hearing or otherwise ensure that the damage award is appropriate. Davis v. Fendler, 650 F.2d 1154, 1161 (9th Cir. 1981).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Whether Plaintiff Has Proven Copyright Infringement

         Plaintiff must first prove the respective Defendants' liability. To establish copyright infringement, Plaintiff must show two elements: “(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of 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)).

         Plaintiff has alleged and shown its ownership of a valid and registered copyright in the Criminal film. See, e.g., C16-729, Dkt. # 14 (Am. Compl.) ¶¶ 1, 6; id., Dkt. # 15 at 2-3 (Certificate of Registration). This “is considered prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright.” Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. v. Microchip Tech. Inc., 307 F.3d 775, 781 (9th Cir. 2002); see also 17 U.S.C. § 410(c). As such, Plaintiff has established the first element.

         The Court also finds that Plaintiff has adequately alleged that each of the Defendants copied pieces of Criminal. Each of the relevant Amended Complaints specifically alleges that the relevant Defendants' IP addresses were observed copying pieces (or the entirety) of Criminal. The complaints also allege that the “physical make up and layout” of Defendants' residences and the security measures taken by Comcast IP make it unlikely that these IP addresses were hijacked by others. The complaints further allege that the infringing activity was not an isolated incident and would have diminished the bandwidth of Defendants' Internet connections such that they would likely have been aware that it was occurring. The Court must deem the facts in the Amended Complaints to be true for the purposes of establishing liability. See Derek Andrew, Inc. v. Poof Apparel Corp., 528 F.3d 696, 702 (9th Cir. 2008). As such, the Court must find that the second element has been met and that Plaintiff has established the Defendants' liability for copyright infringement.

         B. Whether Default ...


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