Murphy v. Millennium Radio Group LLC, 2013 WL 2961669 (D.N.J. June 14, 2013).
Factual Background Edit
Millennium Radio Group posted an unaltered image owned and produced by plaintiff on its website. Plaintiff brought suit alleging copyright infringement, violations of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), and defamation of character. The Third Circuit remanded the case to the district court after it determined that DMCA claim could proceed, plaintiff was entitled to adequate discovery regarding its defamation claim, and defendant's action was not fair use.
District Court Proceedings Edit
Following remand, the defendant moved for partial summary judgment on the DMCA claims and regarding damages for defamation claims. Plaintiff sought continuance of defendant's motion alleging the need for further discovery to oppose defendant's motion. Defendants contended that the facts from the new discovery would preclude finding the requisite intent required by copyright law, and there could be no fair use claim as it relates to the defendant's action of posting unaltered images. In response, plaintiff contended that further discovery — including five depositions and a forensic audit of the computers used by the webmasters working for defendants — required as to the bases underlying defendants' arguments.
The defendants argued that plaintiff faces a high burden to prove not only that defendants acted intentionally removing copyright management information without plaintiff's consent but did so "having in mind that their action would induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement." Further, defendants argued that plaintiff has even higher burden to prove that defendants distributed the copyrighted work knowing that it had been removed without authority and having reasonable grounds to know that such action would "induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement." The court disagreed with the defendant's interpretation of the intent requirement in copyright law. The court held that the plaintiff must show that the defendant knew, or had a reason to know, that his actions would "induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement of any right" under the copyright law.
Moreover, the court found that the discovery the plaintiff sought could be determinative in the analysis of the intent requirement and would give plaintiff necessary information to respond to defendant's motion. As such, the court found that plaintiff's motion for further discovery should be granted.
As for the defamation claim, defendants argued that their current partial summary judgment related only to plaintiff's failure to establish actual damages and, therefore, the availability of compensatory or punitive damages. As such, further discovery for alleged defamatory statements would not be necessary to resolve defendants' motion. Therefore, further discovery – depositions regarding the actual content of statements made, especially alleged inferences of homosexuality – were not implicated in the defendant's new motion. The court agreed with the defendants and denied plaintiff further discovery related to the content of the statements alleged in the defamation claim.