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Recht v. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studio, Inc.

Plaintiff Coby Recht, who resides in Tel Aviv, Israel, sued MGM Studios for copyright infringement in federal district court in the Western District of Wisconsin. Recht claimed that MGM infringed his copyrighted songs by distributing a movie adaptation of a rock opera called The Apple.

MGM filed a motion to transfer venue to the Central District of California, where MGM is located and all of its employee witnesses are located. In weighing a motion to transfer, a court must decide whether the transfer serves the convenience of the parties and witnesses, and promotes the interests of justice.

The court granted MGM’s motion to transfer venue. The court noted that a plaintiff’s choice of forum is entitled to deference when the plaintiff sues in his home forum, but a foreign plaintiff's choice of forum is entitled to much less deference.

In this case, the plaintiff did not provide any facts about why the Western District of Wisconsin is particularly convenient for him and none of the material events in plaintiff's complaint occurred in the Western District of Wisconsin. The court agreed with MGM’s argument that the convenience of the parties factor weighs heavily in favor of transfer because litigating the action in Wisconsin would be very inconvenient for MGM. “The inconveniences plaintiff claims he will suffer because of transfer, such as higher per diem costs, more burdensome and complicated court rules, and the possibility of having to retain local counsel are not persuasive when weighed against the substantial time and expense defendant would incur to litigate in Wisconsin.” In addition, the documents relating to the dispute are located in California, and third-party witnesses would be subject to compulsory process only in California.

The court denied MGM’s motion to dismiss and the plaintiff’s ex-wife’s motion to intervene, explaining that these motions are best decided by the transferee court.