April 9, 2015

Fraudulent DMCA Take-Down Notice May Be Basis For Claim If iTunes Stores Music At Direction Of A User

Distribuidora De Discos Karen, C por A. v. Seijas, No. 13 Civ. 5200 (NRB), 2015 BL 93133 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2015).

Denying defendants' motion to dismiss, the Court held that: (1) a misrepresentation claim under the DMCA may be predicated on a technically defective take-down notice; (2) a misrepresentation claim under the DMCA must be predicated on a take-down notice that is not directed towards activity that the DMCA protects; and (3) it was premature to decide whether Apple stores music on iTunes "at the Direction of a User."  Accordingly, a notice sent by Defendants to iTunes stating that certain recordings had not been licensed for distribution can be the subject of a misrepresentation claim under the DMCA even if it did not meet all the statutory requirements for such a notice, but, such a claim could only apply if the notice was “directed at ‘storage at the direction of a user,' ” which might or might not have been true in the instant case.

Here, defendants and plaintiffs disputed who owned certain publishing and sound recording rights.  The artists' counsel sent Apple a take-down notice, saying that “no license has been issued” with respect to the recordings.  Apple then dropped the subject recordings from iTunes, and plaintiffs sued, alleging misrepresentation under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, 17 U.S.C. § 512(f).  The DMCA creates a notice-and-takedown procedure for allegedly infringing copies of works posted online, and subsection (f) creates a cause of action for sending fraudulent takedown notices.  Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim.  The Court found that the communication to Apple “was not so deficient as to fall outside the reach of subsection 512(f).”  But, the remaining issue was whether iTunes falls within the section 512(c) safe-harbor, to wit: "whether Apple stores music on iTunes 'at the direction of a user,' 17 U.S.C. § 512(c) (1)".  The Court found that "the complaint simply does not state enough facts about iTunes for us to say what happens behind the scenes, so we cannot decide at the present stage whether iTunes stores music at the direction of users."  Accordingly, the motion to dismiss was denied.

April 6, 2015

Partial Attorney's Fees Awarded In MP3Tunes

Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3Tunes, No. 1:07-cv-09931-WHP-FM (SDNY filed 04/03/15) [Doc. 689]

Record company and music publisher plaintiffs, who succeeded at trial, moved for an award of partial attorneys' fees and costs under the Copyright Act, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 against defendant MP3tunes.  The Court granted the motion for partial attorneys' fees, in part, denied the motion for pre-judgment interest, and granted the motion for post-judgment interest.