On May 11, 2010, this Court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on their claims against Defendants LimeWire LLC ("LW"), Lime Group LLC ("Lime Group"), and Mark Gorton (collectively, "Defendants") for secondary copyright infringement. The Court found that Defendants had induced multiple users of the LimeWire online file-sharing program ("LimeWire") to infringe Plaintiffs' copyrights. In the Court's Opinion and Order (as amended on May 25, 2010), the Court detailed this case's procedural and factual background, familiarity with which is assumed. (See Dkt. Entry No. 223.)
The litigation is now in the damage phase, with a trial on damages scheduled for May 2, 2011. Plaintiffs have identified approximately 11,205 sound recordings that have allegedly been infringed through the LimeWire system. Of those, approximately 9,715 are sound recordings as to which Plaintiffs have elected to seek statutory damages under Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act. *fn1 See 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1). With regard to those 9,715 sound recordings, Plaintiffs have submitted competent evidence (1) that all of the sound recordings were infringed on the LimeWire system; and (2) that, with the exception of approximately 200 sound recordings, the sound recordings were owned by Plaintiffs. (See Dkt. Entry No. 649.)
In advance of the upcoming trial on damages, this Court held that Plaintiffs are entitled to a single statutory damage award from Defendants for each "work" infringed, notwithstanding that many individual direct infringers may have infringed that particular work on the LimeWire system. (See Dkt. Entry No. 622.)
Defendants have now moved for partial summary judgment, asking the Court to hold that Plaintiffs are precluded from recovering a statutory damage award from Defendants with respect to 104 sound recordings for which Plaintiffs have already recovered a statutory damage award from an individual direct infringer with whom Defendants are jointly and severally liable. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is DENIED.
Defendants base their motion on sixteen judgments that Plaintiffs have already obtained against individual LimeWire users. In all sixteen judgments, (1) the judgment was against an individual for direct infringement of Plaintiffs' works through the LimeWire system; (2) the judgment granted Plaintiffs an award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act; and (3) some subset of the sound recordings at issue in each judgment are the same sound recordings as some subset of the post-1972 sound recordings at issue in Plaintiffs' present suit against Defendants. (Def Mem. at 3-7.) All sixteen judgments were obtained by default. (Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Statement of Material Facts "PSOF" ¶93.)
The statutory damage awards contained in the sixteen judgments total $94,500; $80,250 are for infringements of works at issue in Plaintiffs' present suit against Defendants. (PSOF ¶ 91.) Plaintiffs state that they have recovered a total of $47,927.62 from all sixteen judgments. (PSOF ¶ 92.)
Accounting for the overlap in the sound recordings covered by the sixteen judgments, and the post-1972 sound recordings at issue in the instant suit, the parties agree that Plaintiffs have already obtained a statutory damage award from an individual direct infringer for 104 of the 9,715 sound recordings*fn2 for which Plaintiffs now seek statutory damage awards against Defendants (for having induced individual infringements of those sound recordings). (PSOF ¶90.)
Based on these undisputed facts, Defendants' present motion seeks a ruling from the Court that Plaintiffs are precluded from seeking statutory damage awards from Defendants with respect to those 104 works. (PSOF ¶ 90.)
III. Summary Judgment Standard
A party may move for summary judgment as to a "part of each claim or defense." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Summary judgment is appropriate only if the record before the court establishes that there is no "genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. The Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must draw all reasonable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); In re "Agent Orange" Prod. Liab. Litig., 517 F.3d 76, 87 (2d Cir.2008). A motion for summary judgment should be denied "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor" of the nonmoving party. NetJets Aviation, Inc. v. LHC Commc'ns, LLC, 537 F.3d 168, 178-79 (2d Cir.2008); see also Brown v. Henderson, 257 F.3d 246, 252 (2d Cir.2001); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Summary judgment is warranted if a party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
To the best of this Court's knowledge, the issue of whether a plaintiff should be precluded from recovering a statutory damage award from a secondarily liable inducer, with respect to those sound recordings for which that plaintiff has already obtained a judgment against an individual direct infringer, has ...