April 18, 2011

"Work" Defined For Statutory Damages Against Limewire

Arista Records LLC v. Lime Group LLC, 06 CV 5936 (KMW), NYLJ 1202489939713, at *1 (SDNY, Decided April 4, 2011)

The Court had 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. The litigation is now in the damage phase, with a trial on damages scheduled. Plaintiffs identified approximately 11,205 sound recordings that had 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.

On March 10, 2011, the Court held that Plaintiffs are entitled to a single statutory damage award from Defendants for each "work" that was infringed by a direct infringer on the LimeWire system. The parties now seek a resolution of a threshold legal dispute regarding what constitutes a "work" as to which Plaintiffs can recover a statutory damage award.

The Court holds that both an album, and a sound recording that Plaintiffs issued as an individual track may constitute a "work" infringed. Accordingly, Plaintiffs are entitled to a statutory damage award for each sound recording that was infringed on the LimeWire system during the time period that Plaintiffs made that sound recording available as an individual track. However, for those sound recordings that Plaintiffs issued only as part of an album, Plaintiffs can recover only one statutory damage award for that album, not for each individual sound recording.