Pope v. Lewis (14-cv-14373).

In an August 24 order, Magistrate Judge Dein recommended partially granting plaintiff’s motion for default judgment of willful copyright infringement because the well-pled factual allegations of the complaint supported summary judgment, and the defendant’s absence, after having answered the complaint and knowing of the allegations, could be construed as acknowledging the truth of the allegations. The case involves a verbal agreement between two inmates to make a documentary film, titled “Word From The Joint,” designed to influence youths to avoid gang life.  The agreement provided that the two would work together to make the film, and that the defendant, who was to be released before the plaintiff, would take the plaintiff’s instructions regarding distribution of the film.  Once out, the defendant published the film on YouTube without having been told to do so, and then ignored Pope’s request to take it down.  Regarding damages, Judge Dein denied the $50,000 award sought and instead recommended statutory damages of $5,000.  This recommendation was because, even upon obtaining default judgment, the plaintiff is still required to prove actual damages, and Pope was unable to provide evidence of $50,000 in actual damages. The amount awarded was based on a review of the sales and rental prices that the film had obtained, and the limited number of times the film had been viewed on YouTube. Finally, Judge Dein recommended the Court enter a permanent injunction preventing the defendant from further distributing the film and requiring all steps be taken to remove it from YouTube.  (Update – as of August 30, 2017, it no longer appears on YouTube).

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