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Atlantic Recording Corp. v. Visione

April 29, 2008

ATLANTIC RECORDING CORP., A DELAWARE CORP. ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PHALESIA VISIONE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Robert M. Dow, Jr.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Atlantic Recording Corporation ("Atlantic"), London-Sire Recordings Inc. ("London-Sire"), Warner Bros. Records Inc. ("Warner Bros."), Capitol Records, Inc. ("Capitol"), UMG Recordings Inc. ("UMG"), and Sony BMG Music Entertainment ("Sony BMG")filed this action against Defendant Phalesia Visione alleging copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. Plaintiffs seek remedies available under the Copyright Act, including statutory damages (17 U.S.C. § 504(c)), costs (17 U.S.C. § 505), and injunctive relief prohibiting further infringement (17 U.S.C. §§ 502-503). This matter is now before the court on Plaintiffs' unopposed motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons stated herein, the motion and all relief sought by Plaintiffs are granted.

I. Background

The relevant facts are taken from Plaintiffs'Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Uncontested Facts ("SUF"), the Declaration of Plaintiffs'attorney in support of their motion for summary judgment and related attachments ("Declaration"), and Plaintiffs'Requests to Admit. Defendant, appearing pro se, answered Plaintiffs'complaint and appeared for at least one status hearing.*fn1 (SUF, Ex. 1 --Transcript of Status Hearing Aug. 21, 2007). Unfortunately, that was the extent of her participation in this case.*fn2 Plaintiffs served Defendant with discovery requests, including Requests to Admit ("RTA") pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 36, on September 4, 2007. (SUF ¶ 20) Defendant never responded to those discovery requests and the court accordingly deemed the RTA admitted on November 9, 2007. (SUF ¶ 20). Despite ample opportunity, Defendant has neither responded to Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment nor submitted a response to Plaintiffs'SUF. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) provides that "[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." The Court therefore deems all of the facts set forth in Plaintiffs' SUF to be admitted.

Plaintiffs are a group of six corporations that own or license registered copyrights in certain sound recordings. (SUF ¶¶ 4-9; 19). As owners of the copyrights, they had exclusive rights to, inter alia, reproduce and distribute the recordings. (SUF ¶ 12). Defendant, Phalesia Visione, is an individual who used KaZaa, an online media distribution system allowing peer-to-peer file sharing, to download to her personal computer and make certain of Plaintiffs'copyrighted sound recordings available for others to download.*fn3 (SUF ¶¶ 10, 15; RTA ¶¶ 12, 24). Among the songs that Defendant downloaded and made available to others were eight sound recordings to which Plaintiffs' held copyrights. (SUF ¶ 15). Plaintiffs therefore held exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the eight copyrighted sound recordings. (SUF ¶ 18). The eight sound recordings at issue were registered by the Plaintiffs prior to the first date on which Defendant downloaded or made available the sound recordings. (SUF ¶ 18). Those sound recordings were labeled with copyright notices when published pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 401. (SUF ¶ 13). Plaintiffs never authorized Defendant to copy and/or distribute the recordings. (SUF ¶ 14). Defendant knew that when she downloaded the sound recordings, her actions were illegal. (RTA ¶ 13). Defendant has continued to download and make available to others Plaintiffs'copyrighted sound recordings using KaZaa. (RTA ¶¶ 27, 28).

II. Analysis

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The moving party has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The existence of an alleged factual dispute is not sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion, instead the nonmoving party must present definite, competent evidence to rebut the summary judgment motion. Butts v. Aurora Health Care, Inc., 387 F.3d 921, 924 (7th Cir. 2004). The court considers the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all reasonable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

Although the Defendant did not respond to the Plaintiffs'motion for summary judgment, the Court must still conclude that Plaintiffs are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment will be granted only if, employing the above standard, such a ruling is appropriate. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2) ("If the opposing party does not respond, summary judgment should if appropriate, be entered against that party") (emphasis added).

B. Copyright Infringement

Copyrights are created by statute. See 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. The Copyright Act creates six specific and exclusive rights for the copyright holder. 17 U.S.C. § 106. Among those rights that are pertinent to this case is the right to "reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords" and to "distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending." 17 U.S.C. §§ 106(1), (3). Copyright infringement occurs when the alleged infringer violates any of the exclusive rights listed in 17 U.S.C. § 106. 17 U.S.C. § 501(a). To establish copyright infringement, Plaintiffs must prove "(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original." Incredible Technologies, Inc. v. Virtual Technologies, Inc., 400 F.3d 1007, 1011 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

1. Plaintiffs' Ownership of Copyrights in the Eight Sound Recordings

Plaintiffs have established that they own valid copyrights for the eight sound recordings at issue and that the copyrights were registered before the Defendant downloaded or made the sound recordings available. Plaintiffs attached Copyright Registrations as Exhibits to their Declaration supporting this motion and, by failing to respond to Plaintiffs'Requests to Admit and Plaintiffs'56.1 Statements of Uncontested Fact, Defendant has admitted the validity and timing of the registrations.

Accordingly, there is no question of material fact that Plaintiffs owned valid copyrights to the eight sound recordings at issue prior to ...


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