United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. Grimm United States District Judge
Malibu Media, LLC ("Malibu") filed this action for
copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. §§ 101-122
against Defendant on January 28, 2014. Compl., ECF No.1.
Malibu has since filed a Motion for Default Judgment, ECF No.
34, to which Defendant has not responded. Having reviewed the
filings, I find that a hearing is unnecessary in this case.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). Malibu has demonstrated
Defendant's liability and has established its entitlement
to the damages and injunctive relief it seeks. Accordingly, I
will grant Plaintiffs Motion for Default Judgment.
a California-based company doing business as X-Art.com,
alleges that Defendant violated the United States Copyright
Act of 1976 ("Copyright Act") by using the
BitTorrent file distribution network to distribute adult
pornographic films subject to copyrights held by Malibu. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 29-30, ECF No. 19.
is a peer-to-peer file sharing system that allows users to
interact with one another to distribute large files,
including digital movie files. Am. Compl. ¶ 10.
Individuals often use BitTorrent to obtain and circulate
infringed copyright content. George Ou, Princeton Study -
99% of BitTorrent Files Pirated, Digital Society (Jan.
29, 2012), ECF No. 34-3. The system allows users to
distribute an entire file by sending small "bits"
individually. Am. Compl. ¶ 12. Malibu alleges that its
investigator, IPP International UG, downloaded one more or
more "bits" of 25 of Malibu's copyrighted films
from Defendant's Internet Protocol address ("IP
address"). Am. Compl. ¶ 18. Those downloads are the
basis for this claim.
Malibu identified Defendant only by an IP address assigned to
a customer on a specific date by an Internet Service Provider
("ISP"). Compl. ¶ 9. Accordingly, Malibu moved
to expedite discovery and serve a third-party subpoena on the
ISP to obtain the identity of Defendant prior to a Rule 26(f)
conference. ECF No. 4. The court granted the motion subject
to conditions and limitations dictated by the sensitive
nature of the action and the uncertainty surrounding the
specificity of IP addresses. ECF No. 6. Malibu then filed an
Amended Complaint against Defendant, to which Defendant has
not responded. The Clerk entered a default, ECF No. 32, and
Malibu then filed the pending motion for default judgment
seeking an award of statutory damages, injunctive relief, and
attorney's fees and costs, ECF No. 34.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes a
two-step process when a party applies for default judgment.
First, the rule provides that "when a party ... has
failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is
shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the
party's default." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Following the
Clerk's entry of default, "the plaintiff [then may]
seek a default judgment." Godlove v. Martinsburg
Senior Towers, LP, No. 14-CV-132, 2015 WL 746934, at *1
(N.D. W.Va. Feb. 20, 2015); see also Fed. R. Civ. P.
55(b). "The Fourth Circuit has a 'strong policy'
that 'cases be decided on their merits.' "
S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 420 (D. Md.
2005) (citing Dow v. Jones, 232 F.Supp.2d 491, 494
(D. Md. 2002)). However, "default judgment may be
appropriate when the adversary process has been halted
because of an essentially unresponsive party."
Id. at 420-22.
determining whether to grant a motion for default judgment,
the Court takes as true the well-pleaded factual allegations
in the complaint, other than those pertaining to damages.
Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780
(4th Cir. 2001). If the Court finds that "liability is
established, [it] must then determine the appropriate amount
of damages." Agora Fin., LLC v. Samler, 725
F.Supp.2d 491, 484 (citing Ryan, 253 F.3d at
780-81). In order to do so, "the court may conduct an
evidentiary hearing, or may dispense with a hearing if there
is an adequate evidentiary basis in the record from which to
calculate an award." Mata v. GO. Contractors Grp.,
Ltd., No. TDC-14-3287, 2015 WL 6674650, at *3 (D. Md.
Oct. 29, 2015); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b).
moves for default judgment against Defendant for direct
copyright infringement and seeks an award of statutory
damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees and
establish copyright infringement liability, a plaintiff must
prove two elements: (1) ownership of the copyright; and (2)
copying of original constituent elements by the alleged
defendant. 17 U.S.C. § 501(a); see also Feist
Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340,
361 (1991). Malibu has met its burden through its pleadings
by alleging it owns the 25 copyrights that Defendant obtained
and distributed through BitTorrent. See Am. Compl.
¶ 17. Exhibit B of the Amended Complaint supports
Malibu's assertion of ownership over the 25 copyrights,
and Exhibit A supports its assertion that those copyrights
were downloaded, copied, and distributed from Defendant's
IP address using BitTorrent. Am. Compl. Exs. A, B, ECF Nos.
19-1, 19-2. Because the court takes the well-pleaded
allegations in a complaint as true upon entry of default,
Malibu has established Defendant's liability for
copyright infringement by default. See Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780.
Accordingly, only questions of the appropriate relief remain.
requests statutory damages of $750.00 per video, for a total
of $18, 750.00. Pl's Mem. 9. Under § 504(a) of the
Copyright Act, an infringer of copyright is liable for
either: (1) the copyright owner's actual damages and any
additional profits that the infringer has obtained; or (2)
statutory damages as provided by the statute. 17 U.S.C.
§ 504(a). Section 504(c)(1) authorizes statutory damages
in an amount "not less than $750 or more than $30, 000
as the court considers just." 17 U.S.C § 504(c)(1);
see also Patrick Collins, Inc. v. Gillispie, No.
11-cv-01776-AW, 2012 WL 666001, at *3 (D. Md. Feb. 23, 2012).
The court has broad discretion in setting the amount of
statutory damages ...