United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Honorable Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff MayDay Movie
Productions LLC's (“MayDay”) Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”). Dkt. # 12.
For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS
about September 21, 2016, MayDay entered into an agreement to
provide loan financing for an upcoming motion picture,
Animal Crackers. Dkt # 12 at 21; Dkt. # 12-1. The
agreement was amended roughly two years later, on July 9,
2018, following an additional investment made by MayDay. Dkt
# 12 at 21-22; Dkt. # 12-2. Under the July 9, 2018 amendment,
Defendant Animal Crackers Movie, Ltd. assigned and
transferred all copyright and ownership interest in and to
Animal Crackers to MayDay until certain conditions
were met, including repayment of the initial loan.
Id. The assignment was subsequently recorded by the
U.S. Copyright Office. Dkt. # 12-4.
the assignment, and despite the fact that the loan has not
yet been repaid, on July 13, 2018, Defendants Animal Crackers
Movie, Ltd. and Scott Christian Sava released Animal
Crackers in China to 12, 000 screens without any
authorization from MayDay. Dkt. # 12 at 22-23. A few months
later, in November 2018, clips from Animal Crackers
were released its Facebook page for free public consumption,
again without MayDay's authorization. Dkt. # 12 at 24.
According to Mayday, Defendant Sava, one of the picture's
producers, controls the content of the Facebook page.
dispute between the parties continued into 2019. On or about
February 13, 2019, another post was made on the Animal
Crackers Facebook page stating that the picture would be
released in other markets around August 30, 2019. Dkt. # 12
at 24. MayDay further declares that on July 3, 2019, Sava
informed investors that he hoped to sign contracts
“this week or next to get the film out” and that
searches of imdb.com now show Animal Crackers has
distributors in various countries, including the United
States, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and
Bulgaria. Id. at 25-26. Defendants' conduct has
undermined MayDay's negotiating position with licensees
and business partners who may be interested in acquiring the
distribution rights to Animal Crackers. Id.
at 26. Additionally, due to Defendants' actions, MayDay
has been unable to inspect or control the physical elements
of the picture, which is currently in possession of a
post-production company. Id. at 27.
8, 2019, MayDay filed a complaint in this Court alleging
copyright infringement and breach of contract. Dkt. # 1. On
July 16, 2019, MayDay filed the instant motion for temporary
restraining order and served Defendants by personal service,
overnight mailing, and email. Dkt. # 12 at 33. Defendants
have not provided a response to MayDay's motion.
is “extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon
a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such
relief.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). To obtain a TRO, MayDay
must show that (1) it is likely to succeed on the merits, (2)
it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
preliminary relief, (3) the balance of equities tips in its
favor, and (4) an injunction is in the public interest.
Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109, 1127 (9th
reviewed the motion, the complaint, the submissions of the
parties, the relevant portions of the record, and the
applicable law, the Court concludes that MayDay has carried
its burden to establish these elements. In particular, MayDay
has submitted sufficient evidence of its exclusive rights
granted under the Animal Crackers copyright as well
as evidence of Defendants' past and potentially imminent
distribution of Animal Crackers to markets
worldwide. See Dkt. # 12-2; Dkt. # 12-4.
Accordingly, the Court finds that MayDay is likely to prevail
on its claim of copyright infringement. See Vernor v.
Autodesk, Inc., 621 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010)
(copyright infringement occurs whenever someone
“violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright
owner, ” including the exclusive distribution right).
As for irreparable harm, the declarations filed in support of
MayDay's motion show that Defendants or their agents may
continue distributing Animal Crackers, and otherwise
block access to the film, thereby irreparably harming
MayDay's ability to exercise control over its
distribution. See Stuhlbarg Intern. Sales Co.,
Inc. v. John D. Brush and Co., Inc., 240 F.3d 832,
841 (9th Cir. 2001) (“Evidence of a threatened loss of
prospective customers or goodwill certainly supports a
finding of the possibility of irreparable harm.”);
Sega Enterprises Ltd. v. MAPHIA, 857 F.Supp. 679,
689 (N.D. Cal. 1994) (finding irreparable harm where the
defendants' distribution of the infringed work prior to
its approved release subjected plaintiff to reputational and
the Court finds that the public interest embodied in the
United States Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et
seq., as well as the equities in this matter warrant granting
a temporary restraining order for purposes of maintaining the
status quo. See Disney Enterprises, Inc. v. VidAngel,
Inc., 869 F.3d 848 (9th Cir. 2017) (noting that
“the public has a compelling interest in protecting
copyright owners' marketable rights to their work”)
(quoting WPIX, Inc. v. ivi, Inc., 691 F.3d 275,
285-86 (2d Cir. 2012)).
for the reasons above, the Court GRANTS
MayDay's motion. In its Motion for a TRO, MayDay also
requests relief in the form of an order to show cause why a
preliminary injunction should not issue. Dkt. # 12. The Court
concludes that this request should be granted to the extent
that Defendants must file a brief in opposition to
MayDay's request for a preliminary injunction on or
before August 8, 2019, and MayDay may file a reply on or
before August 15, 2019.
reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS
MayDay's motion. Accordingly, the TRO is effective as of
the date of this Order. Defendants must file a brief in
opposition to MayDay's request for a preliminary
injunction on or before August 8, 2019, and MayDay may file a
reply on or before August 15, 2019. MayDay shall ...