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IP/Entertainment Case Law Updates

Atlantic Recording Corp., et al. v. Andersen

After a de novo review of the portions of a magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations to which the parties objected, the district court for the District of Oregon agreed with the magistrate judge’s report and ordered that defendant Tanya Andersen be awarded attorneys’ fees and costs in order to compensate her for defending herself in the action brought by plaintiff record companies.

Atlantic Recording Corporation and several other recording companies sued Andersen for copyright infringement stemming from her alleged use of a peer-to-peer file sharing system. However, the plaintiffs’ claims against Andersen were dismissed with prejudice. Andersen asserted several counterclaims against the plaintiffs related to mistaken identity and her subsequent motion requesting prevailing party attorneys' fees was ultimately granted. The issue before the court was whether to accept the portion of the magistrate’s report which recommended that Andersen be granted attorneys’ fees and costs for the pursuit of her counterclaims.

The court agreed with the magistrate judge’s report and rejected plaintiffs’ argument that the magistrate judge applied the wrong legal standard in awarding Andersen attorneys’ fees for pursuing the counterclaims. The court found that despite plaintiffs’ assertion that the counterclaims need to be “inextricably intertwined” in order for attorneys’ fees to be granted pursuant to the Copyright Act, the award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party is “the rule rather than the exception” under the Copyright Act and “should be awarded routinely.”

In addition, the court agreed with the magistrate judge that Andersen’s counterclaims were related to the copyright claims and efforts expended on unsuccessful related non-copyright claims may be compensable. In this instance, the court explained, Andersen’s pursuit of the counterclaims contributed, at least in part, to her ultimate success in the case, and therefore even her unsuccessful related non-copyright claims should be compensable.

Finally, the court denied Andersen’s request for the application of a multiplier to her fees. The court explained that the lodestar amount, the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate, is presumptively the reasonable fee amount and a multiplier may be used to adjust the lodestar amount upward or downward only in “rare” and “exceptional” cases. In this instance, the court did not believe that Andersen had demonstrated that this case was “exceptional” or “rare” within the meaning of the applicable case law.

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