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Konangataa v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
United States District Court, S.D. New York
June 21, 2017
KALI KONANGATAA, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC., et ano., Defendants KALI KONANGATAA, Plaintiff,
NBCUNTVERSAL MEDIA, LLC, Defendant. KALI KONANGATAA, Plaintiff,
COED MEDIA GROUP, LLC, Defendants.
A. KAPLAN UNITED SLATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
previously dismissed copyright infringement actions are
before the Court on defendants' joint motion for awards
of attorneys' fees pursuant to Section 505 of the
Copyright Act and for sanctions pursuant to Section 1927
of the Judicial Code and the inherent power of the Court.
these cases all were determined on motions to dismiss the
complaints pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) - motions on which the
plaintiff was entitled to the assumption that the well
pleaded factual allegations of the complaints are true - very
little need be said about the facts. It suffices merely to
quote from part of the defendants' brief
summary to provide the background for this ruling:
On May 16, 2016, Plaintiff publicly live-streamed on Facebook
a 45-minute video of his partner giving birth to their child
in a hospital delivery room (the "Video"). As of
this filing the Video continues to be publicly available at
[citation omitted]. Defendants and other news outlets
reported on the Video and offered social commentary about the
phenomenon of someone publicly live-streaming a life event
that traditionally is considered personal. Defendants used
very brief excerpts of the Video in their news reports: 30
seconds for NBC, 22 seconds for ABC and Yahoo, and a mere
screengrab for CMG.
Court notes also that the Video remains publicly available on
Facebook as of this writing more than a full year after its
February 23, 2017, this Court granted defendants' motions
to dismiss from the bench on the ground that the uses
complained of were fair uses. It stated:
This was in each case a use squarely within the preambulatory
portion of Section 107 of the Copyright Act, namely,
criticism, comment, news reporting, which goes a significant
part of the distance toward a conclusion of fair use. I
believe the use was transformative. The amount and
substantiality of the portions used in relation to the
copyright work as a whole are very small in each case and, in
the case of COED Media, trivial and de minimis for
sure. And there are no plausible allegations that would
permit a conclusion that the effect of the use on the part of
any of the defendants had any effect on any potential market
for or any value of the copyrighted work.
did not appeal.
Act Section 505
505 of the Copyright Act provides that:
In any civil action under this title, the court in its
discretion may allow the recovery of full costs by or against
any party other than the United States or an officer thereof
Except as otherwise provided by this title, the court may
also award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing
party as part of the costs.
were the prevailing parties in these actions. Awards of
attorneys' fees therefore lie within the discretion of
this Court. In exercising that discretion, courts consider
"several nonexclusive factors"
including"frivolousness, motivation, objective
unreasonableness, and the need in particular circumstances to
advance considerations of compensation and
deterrence." An important consideration in deciding to
award fees is that "fee awards under § 505 should
encourage the types of lawsuits that promote" the
purposes of the Copyright Act. Thus, courts in making
determinations under Section 505 must give appropriate regard
to reaching results that would "encourage parties with
strong legal positions to stand on their rights and deter
those with weak ones from proceeding ...