Amazon was sued for distributing four films on Amazon Prime Video without authorization or licensure in violation of the Copyright Act on Friday in the Southern District of New York.
In 2008, Capella Films, Inc. sold plaintiff Ralf Hartmann their interests in multiple motion pictures, including “(i) Austin Powers: International [M]an of Mystery[;](ii) After the Rain; (iii) A Business Affair; (iv) Commander Hamilton; (v) Drop Dead Gorgeous; ([v]i) Fall; (vii) The Last Tattoo; (viii) Music From Another Room; and (ix) Pete’s Meteor.” Hartmann now owns or controls copyright and exclusive distribution rights to these films. He is also allowed to reproduce, perform, and display these works publicly.
Amazon’s “internet video on demand and digital distribution service,” Amazon Prime Video, offers films and television shows for rent or purchase; these include licensed work and original Amazon content. Prime Video is available both in the United States and internationally. The plaintiff asserted that the motion pictures that he has the rights to were illegally available on Amazon Prime Video.
Hartmann alleged that beginning in July 2017, Amazon “without obtaining either license or authorization from RH, made the Motion Pictures Commander Hamilton and After the Rain available for digital distribution either via streaming on demand, and/or for rent or sale on its Prime Video service in the United States.” This distribution lasted at least through 2018, which the plaintiff asserted resulted in these two films being streamed, rented or purchased at least hundreds of times. Moreover, in July 2017 those two films and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and Drop Dead Gorgeous were made available in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, and have been made available at least through 2018. Hartmann said each distribution to the Prime Video viewer has violated his copyrights and is in violation of the Copyright Act. Hartmann added that he does not “know the full extent of Defendants’ wrongful distribution of the Motion Pictures.”
Hartmann accused Amazon of direct, contributory, vicarious infringement. He added that Amazon knowingly and willfully infringed.
The plaintiff has sought a declaratory judgment of infringement against Amazon; an award for damages and treble damages, including compensatory damages, full restitution, profit disgorgement, actual damages, statutory damages, and punitive damages; an award for costs and fees; pre- and post-judgment interest; and other relief as determined by the court.
The plaintiff is represented by Lebowitz Law Office.