Record Labels Urge District Court to Adopt R&R in DMCA ‘Stream Ripping’ Case

Last Friday, a dozen record labels, including UMG Recordings Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, and Elektra Entertainment Group Inc., responded to objections laid by defendant Tofig Kurbanov, arguing that the district court should affirm a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation that would award the plaintiffs $83 million for copyright infringement. 

The case began in 2018 when the plaintiffs sued the Russian national, also the operator of two of the most popular music streaming and download websites, and, for mass infringement. Litigation ensued, reportedly culminating with the defendant’s refusal to comply with discovery and court orders and other bad faith conduct that ultimately led to the entry of default last October.

In mid-December, the magistrate issued her report. She recommended an entry of default judgment after finding the defendant liable to the plaintiffs for traditional Copyright Act infringement and unlawful circumvention of a technological measure in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for allowing users to repeatedly download about 1,615 songs free of charge while earning illicit profits through advertising.

This week’s opposition says Kurbanov’s objections raised the same arguments that he made in opposing the plaintiffs’ motion for remedies. The record labels refute the defendant’s contention that they “failed to establish that anyone used his Websites to infringe any of the 1,618 works in suit, or to circumvent any technological measures.”

Instead, the plaintiffs aver that because the court already entered default judgment, it must interpret the allegations as admitted and decide liability and damages accordingly. As such, they argue that the magistrate found their contentions adequately pleaded: that Kurbanov reproduced and distributed their copyrighted works, had actual knowledge of and materially contributed to the infringement of those works, induced others to infringe those works, and circumvented technological measures to gain access to those works. 

The plaintiffs not only advocate for the magistrate’s imposition of statutory damages but also argue that she did not err in recommending an amount greater than the minimum. “Defendant is an international scofflaw who facilitated and profited from massive infringement, flouted this Court’s authority, and continued his illegal activity for years during this case,” the filing says. 

It points out that the plaintiffs allegedly submitted plenary evidence including fact and expert witness declarations and documentary evidence from the record while the defendant offered no evidence in support of his bid for a lower award.

The plaintiffs are represented by Oppenheim + Zebrak LLP while Kurbanov is represented by Sands Anderson PC, Boston Law Group PC, and Ciampa Fray-Witzer LLP.