Default Judgment Entered Against PrimeWire in Movie Studios’ Copyright Crackdown

An opinion issued Wednesday by a Los Angeles, Calif. federal judge granted 11 movie studios’ motion for entry of default judgment as to copyright infringement liability against unknown defendants who run the PrimeWire websites. The court also granted the studios’ requested permanent injunction after finding the requisite test satisfied.

The plaintiffs, including Netflix Studios, University City Studios, Columbia Pictures, and Disney Entertainment sued the pirated movie and television show streaming service last December. The plaintiffs alleged that the doe defendants’ “unauthorized streaming undermines their contractual commitments by weakening Plaintiffs’ future negotiating position and making it more difficult for counterparties to achieve a profit.”

The plaintiffs moved for and received a preliminary injunction, weighed in on whether they needed to post a security bond, and later, moved entry of default judgment. 

Though the unidentified individual defendants have yet to appear in the case, PrimeWire personnel communicated with the plaintiffs’ counsel by email, stating that the company was intending to comply with the preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs informed the court, but said that the defendants’ corespondence did not change the fact that they were entitled to default judgment and a permanent injunction.

In this week’s opinion, the court agreed. Judge Mark C. Scarsi opened the discussion by noting that the plaintiffs only seek default judgment as to liability, not damages, a practice the Ninth Circuit has implicitly endorsed.

Judge Scarsi then ruled that the plaintiffs met the requirements outlined by the seven-factor Eitel test. Among other considerations, the court looked at whether the complaint stated claims for induced and contributory infringement. 

 It did, the opinion said, pointing to conduct showing that PrimeWire induced users to infringe the plaintiffs’ copyrights by curating third-party streaming links, providing detailed instructions for rating and streaming these works, and causing and encouraging infringing third parties to provide streaming links to PrimeWire.

Similarly, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a permanent injunction, which, unlike their bid for a preliminary injunction, included the additional request that the defendants transfer the operation of the PrimeWire websites to the plaintiffs. “Other courts have approved this form of relief in copyright infringement cases,” the court said in approving the transfer request.

The plaintiffs are represented by Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.