October 3, 2008

Jurisdiction and Transfer Decision in MP3tunes

The District Court, Southern District of New York, has found that personal jurisdiction exists over MP3tunes but not over its CEO, Michael Robertson. (Background here.) Further, venue and forum were proper, such that the suit will not be transferred to the Southern District of California.

Capitol Records Inc. v. MP3tunes LLC, No. 07-cv-9931, 10/3/08 N.Y.L.J. "Decision of Interest" (S.D.N.Y. decided Sept. 29, 2008).


The case analyzed personal jurisdiction over both MP3tunes and Robertson under New York's long-arm statute (CPLR 302). Because MP3tunes is an interactive website, provides users with software, transfers of music files, and allows for the exchange of e-mails/postings, the court held that MP3tuns "transacts business in New York" under the long-arm statute. Further, the website's minimum contacts with New York meant that the assertion of personal jurisdiction would not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."

Robertson, however, was not subject to the court's personal jurisdiction. There was no competent evidence that the CEO's only activities in New York (a single meeting and a speaking engagement at an industry forum) related to plaintiffs' claims. Nor was there competent evidence to show that Robertson exercised control over the corporations allegedly infringing activities in New York (important, because an individual defendant may also be subject to jurisdiction under New York's long-arm statute if a corporate defendant is acting as his agent).

A defendant "may be found", pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1400(a), in any district where the defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction. Therefore, the motion to dismiss for improper venue was denied.

The Court examined nine transfer-factors and denied defendants' motion to transfer the action.