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IP/Entertainment Case Law Updates

Warner Bros. Records, Inc., et al. v. Wagner

In a copyright case applying the federal pleading standards explicated in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 929 (2007), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana held that the plaintiff record companies sufficiently stated a claim for infringement of plaintiffs’ sound recordings over a peer-to-peer network called Gnutella.

Specifically, the defendant argued that “putting a file(s) into a shared folder should not and cannot lead to an assumption by the court that these files were downloaded by other users.” The plaintiffs opposed the motion to dismiss on the grounds that (1) the complaint alleged that the defendant had “downloaded and/or distributed” the copyrighted works, and (2) the complaint alternatively alleged that the defendant made the works “available” for public duplication. The district court acknowledged that several district courts have recently grappled with the “making available” issue and that at least one court has rejected this theory. However, the district court ultimately decided that it did not need to address the “making available” theory because the complaint adequately stated a claim for copyright infringement by alleging that the defendant “downloaded and/or distributed to the public” copyrighted sound recordings over a peer-to-peer network at a specified date and time. The court held that these statements were sufficient to allege downloading or distribution under the pleading standards articulated in Twombly.