United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS
S. LASNIK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on defendant Jeremy Reeves'
motion to dismiss. Dkt. # 30. Defendant argues that an IP
address is not a reliable form of identification for any
particular person and that the allegations of the complaint
are insufficient to give rise to a plausible inference that
Mr. Reeves is the one who downloaded Mechanic:
Resurrection. The Court has considered plaintiff's
untimely response in which it argues that it has alleged
additional facts, beyond the IP address, that tend to exclude
the possibility that anyone other than the subscriber
downloaded the copyrighted work.
question for the Court on a motion to dismiss is whether the
facts in the complaint sufficiently state a
“plausible” ground for relief. Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. Plausibility requires pleading facts, as opposed to
conclusory allegations or the formulaic recitation of
elements of a cause of action, and must rise above the mere
conceivability or possibility of unlawful conduct that
entitles the pleader to relief. Factual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely
consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short
of the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief. Nor is it enough that the complaint is
factually neutral; rather, it must be factually suggestive.
Somers v. Apple, Inc., 729 F.3d 953, 959-60 (9th
Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
For purposes of a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded factual
allegations are presumed to be true, with all reasonable
inferences drawn in favor of the non-moving party. In re
Fitness Holdings Int'l, Inc., 714 F.3d 1141, 1144-45
(9th Cir. 2013). When a complaint fails to adequately state a
claim, such deficiency should be “exposed at the point
of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and
the court.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558. A
complaint may be lacking for one of two reasons: (i) absence
of a cognizable legal theory or (ii) insufficient facts under
a cognizable legal claim. Robertson v. Dean Witter
Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).
alleges that Mr. Reeves is a Comcast customer who was
assigned an IP address that was used to download all or part
of plaintiff's copyrighted work. While it is true that
plaintiff's allegation that each of the named defendants
“copied and distributed Plaintiff's copyrighted
motion picture” (Dkt. # 12 at ¶ 10) is merely a
formulaic recitation of an element of plaintiff's direct
infringement claim, plaintiff has made specific factual
allegations in support of that assertion, such as:
• that Comcast identified Mr. Reeves as the subscriber
to whom a specific IP address was assigned during the
relevant time period (Id. at ¶¶ 10-11);
• that the “IP address was observed infringing
Plaintiff's motion picture at that time”
(Id. at ¶ 24);
• that the download of Mechanic: Resurrection
was not an isolated infringement, but rather one instance of
significant BitTorrent activity in which Mr. Reeves' IP
address participated during the relevant period (Id.
at ¶ 12);
• that the materials shared and downloaded would not be
of interest to a child (Id.); and
• that the physical location and layout of Mr.
Reeves' residence makes it unlikely that his IP address
was hijacked by a neighbor or passerby (Id. at
allegations render some of the other plausible explanations
for the infringing use of the IP address less likely.
Plaintiff has alleged facts indicating that Mr. Reeves is not
in a location where strangers could connect to his server,
that the BitTorrent activity was continuous enough that it
was not the work of an occasional or transient guest, that it
is unlikely that a child in the residence was responsible for
the download, and that the use of the IP address for
infringing activity was extensive enough that an inference of
knowledge and permission arises. All of these facts, added to
Mr. Reeves' ownership of the account, raise a plausible
inference that he is the person who engaged in copyright
infringement. Plaintiff may be wrong - but it is not required
to prove its allegations in order to adequately plead a claim
of infringement under Twombly.
of the foregoing reasons, Mr. Reeves' motion to dismiss
(Dkt. # 30) is DENIED. Now that this motion is resolved, Mr.
Reeves has fourteen days from the receipt of this order to
file a formal answer to the allegations of the complaint.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(4). The preferred form of
answer mirrors the complaint, so that Mr. Reeves'
response to paragraph 1 of the complaint is stated in
numbered paragraph 1 of his answer. The general rules of
pleading in response to a complaint are set forth in
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b). Any affirmative defenses to liability
(other than denials, which are included in the ...