Mallory King - December 20, 2016 - Copyright Law, Internet Copyright Infringement
In relation to our recent Copyright Radio Show about the risk of copyright infringement liability stemming from illegal downloads, an Oregon Court declined to hold a BitTorrent Defendant responsible for Plaintiff’s attorney fees. In Cobbler Nev., LLC v. Cerritos, the Plaintiff accused Defendant of violating the Copyright Act by using BitTorrent to illegally download Adam Sandler’s movie “The Cobbler” (based upon the reviews, a movie probably not worth risking a copyright infringement lawsuit for). While the Defendant was found responsible for the minimum $750 in statutory damages, the Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees, which would have subjected the Defendant to roughly $17,000 in additional damages.
In rejecting the Plaintiff’s motion, the Court noted that the “financial penalty of that [$750] magnitude is sufficient to deter [Defendant], as well as others, from illegally downloading movies in the future.” The Court also commented on how awarding “Plaintiff its attorney’s fees in his case would only contribute to the continued overaggressive assertion and negotiation of these Copyright Act claims.” Overall, allowing upwards of $17,000 in damages would counter the policies of the Copyright Act.
Decisions such as the one in Cobbler Nev., LLC v. Cerritos could mark a change in how illegal downloads are handled under the Copyright Act. While it is generally agreed that illegal downloads are an issue, as this Court pointed out, “consumers who downloaded a single movie [should not] pay more than their share of the problem.” Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the diminished possibility of attorney’s fees under the Copyright Act will impact copyright infringement lawsuits for illegal downloads.