In a Rochester, New York, case, Atlantic v. Dangler, Judge David G. Larimer has denied the RIAA's request for a default judgment, on the ground that the evidence the RIAA presented (a) failed to include any details of any distribution or downloading, and (b) failed to prove that the defendant was properly identified as the individual who had operated the file sharing program:
[T]here are significant issues of fact regarding the identification of the defendant from his alleged “online media distribution system” username, an issue not addressed by the record. See Van Limburg Stirum v. Whalen, 1993 WL 241464, at *4 (N.D.N.Y.1993)(“A ‘default is not treated as an absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of the plaintiff’s right to recover.’”)(quoting Nishimatsu Const. Co., Ltd. v. Houston Nat’l. Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.1975)).Two months earlier a similar RIAA default judgment application was rejected by Judge Rudi Brewster in San Diego, California, in Interscope v. Rodriguez, on the ground that the complaint failed to allege specific factual details of the type whose absence was noted here by Judge Larimer.
Clearly, plaintiffs are entitled to relief if Dangler downloaded and distributed the Copyrighted Recordings without plaintiffs’ consent. The question this Court must decide is whether plaintiffs have proven that those circumstances exist here. Although the complaint establishes that someone using the “KaZaA” online peer-to-peer file sharing service uploaded the Copyrighted Recordings, or otherwise offered them for distribution, the complaint does not identify details such as the time period during which the violations allegedly took place, or explain how that user, dentified only by the username heavyjeffmc@KaZaA, was determined to be the defendant.
October 23, 2007, Decision, Denying RIAA Motion for Default Judgment* (--- F.Supp.2d ----, 2007 WL 3084728)
* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation
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