Penguin Group (USA) Inc., v. American Buddha, No. 09-1739 (2d Cir. 2011)

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Justia Opinion Summary

Plaintiff, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. ("Penguin"), filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against defendant, an Oregon not-for-profit corporation with its principal place of business in Arizona, alleging that defendant's posting of four Penguin books on the Internet violated Penguin's copyrights in works that it had published. In answer to a question the court certified to the New York Court of Appeals, that court concluded that "[in] copyright infringement cases involving the uploading of a copyrighted printed literary work onto the Internet, ... the situs of injury for purposes of determining long-arm jurisdiction under [the relevant section of New York's long-arm-jurisdiction statute is] ... the location of the copyright holder." Accordingly, the court held that the Court of Appeals' decision compelled it to conclude, for purposes of the personal jurisdiction analysis pursuant to New York's long-arm statute, that the situs of Penguin's alleged injury was New York. Therefore, the judgment dismissing Penguin's complaint was vacated and the case remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion and with the Court of Appeals' response to the certified question.

This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on June 15, 2010.

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09-1739-cv Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha 1 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS 2 FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT 3 August Term, 2010 4 5 6 (Argued: January 7, 2010 Question Certified: June 15, 2010 Certified Question Answered: March 24, 2011 7 Decided: May 12, 2011) 8 Docket No. 09-1739-cv 9 ------------------------------------- 10 PENGUIN GROUP (USA) INC., 11 Plaintiff-Appellant, 12 - v - 13 AMERICAN BUDDHA, 14 Defendant-Appellee. 15 ------------------------------------- 16 Before: 17 SACK, KATZMANN, and CHIN,* Circuit Judges. Appeal by the plaintiff from an order of the United 18 States District Court for the Southern District of New York 19 (Gerard E. Lynch, Judge) dismissing this action for lack of 20 personal jurisdiction over the defendant. 21 question we certified to the New York Court of Appeals, see 22 Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, 609 F.3d 30, 42 (2d Cir. 23 2010), that court has concluded that "[i]n copyright infringement 24 cases involving the uploading of a copyrighted printed literary * In answer to a The Honorable Denny Chin, who was at the time of argument a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York sitting by designation, is now a member of this Court. 1 work onto the Internet, . . . the situs of injury for purposes of 2 determining long-arm jurisdiction under [the relevant section of 3 New York's long-arm-jurisdiction statute is] . . . the location 4 of the copyright holder," Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, 5 16 N.Y.3d 295, 301-02, --- N.E.2d ---, ---, --- N.Y.S.2d ---, --- 6 (2011). 7 judgment of the district court is now: In light of this response by the Court of Appeals, the 8 Vacated and Remanded. 9 10 11 12 RICHARD DANNAY, Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C. (Thomas Kjellberg, of counsel), New York, N.Y., for PlaintiffAppellant. 13 14 CHARLES CARREON, Online Media Law, PLLC, Tucson, Ariz., for Defendant-Appellee. 15 PER CURIAM: 16 This appeal, which returns to us after the New York 17 Court of Appeals responded to a question we certified to that 18 Court, concerns the limits of New York's "long-arm" jurisdiction 19 over out-of-state defendants in copyright infringement actions. 20 We assume the readers' familiarity with the facts and procedural 21 history as set forth in our previous opinion in this case. 22 Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, 609 F.3d 30, 32-34 (2d 23 Cir. 2010) ("Am. Buddha II"). 24 as we think necessary to explain our final resolution of this 25 appeal. 26 See We rehearse them here only insofar The defendant American Buddha is an Oregon not-for- 27 profit corporation with its principal place of business in 28 Arizona that maintains a website known as the Ralph Nader 2 1 Library.2 2 and other works . . . , including [four] works published in print 3 format by Plaintiff-Appellant Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 4 [("Penguin")]."3 5 quotation marks omitted). 6 American Buddha's website and its contents, Penguin filed suit 7 against American Buddha in the United States District Court for 8 the Southern District of New York, alleging that American 9 Buddha's posting of the four Penguin books on the Internet The website "provides access to classical literature Am. Buddha II, 609 F.3d at 33 (internal Having learned of the existence of 10 violated Penguin's copyrights in works that it had published.4 11 American Buddha moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "contending 13 that it has done nothing that would make it amenable to suit in 14 New York." 15 2009 WL 1069158, at *1, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34032, at *1 16 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 21, 2009) ("Am. Buddha I"). Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, No. 09-cv-528, The district court 2 The Ralph Nader Library is not affiliated with well known consumer advocate Ralph Nader. See Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, 609 F.3d 30, 33 (2d Cir. 2010). 3 Penguin alleges that American Buddha has posted the following four books in their entirety on www.naderlibrary.com, thereby infringing Penguin's copyrights in the printed works: Upton Sinclair, Oil!; Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here; Apuleius, The Golden Ass (E.J. Kenney trans.); and Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe (R.E. Latham trans.). Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, No. 09-cv-528, 2009 WL 1069158, at *1, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34032, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 21, 2009). 4 Subject matter jurisdiction was premised on the federal courts' "original and exclusive" jurisdiction over actions alleging copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 501. Compl. ¶ 4; see 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a). 3 1 agreed, ruling, as we later characterized it, that the "situs of 2 the injury" was "where the book[s in which Penguin holds the 3 copyrights were] electronically copied -- presumably in Arizona 4 or Oregon, where American Buddha and its computer servers were 5 located -- and not New York, where Penguin was headquartered." 6 Am. Buddha II, 609 F.3d at 32; see also Am. Buddha I, 2009 WL 7 1069158, at *4, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34032, at *13. 8 followed. 9 This appeal Concluding that resolution of the issues raised on 10 appeal "require[d] analysis of state law and policy 11 considerations that this Court is ill-suited to make," Am. Buddha 12 II, 609 F.3d at 32, we certified a question to the New York Court 13 of Appeals, which that Court has now answered. 14 The district court's dismissal of Penguin's complaint 15 rested on its interpretation of New York's long-arm statute, N.Y. 16 C.P.L.R. 302(a)(3)(ii). 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 It provides, in pertinent part: [A] court may exercise personal jurisdiction over any non-domiciliary . . . who . . . commits a tortious act without the state causing injury to person or property within the state, . . . if he . . . expects or should reasonably expect the act to have consequences in the state and derives substantial revenue from interstate or international commerce . . . . 26 N.Y. C.P.L.R. 302(a)(3)(ii). 27 this provision, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: 28 29 30 31 32 To establish jurisdiction under (1) the defendant's tortious act was committed outside New York, (2) the cause of action arose from that act, (3) the tortious act caused an injury to a person or property in New York, (4) the defendant expected or 4 1 2 3 4 5 should reasonably have expected that his or her action would have consequences in New York, and (5) the defendant derives substantial revenue from interstate or international commerce. 6 Am. Buddha II, 609 F.3d at 35 (citing LaMarca v. Pak-Mor Mfg. 7 Co., 95 N.Y.2d 210, 214, 735 N.E.2d 883, 886, 713 N.Y.S.2d 304, 8 307 (2000)). In this case, the applicability vel non of the long-arm 9 10 statute turns on the third requirement: the situs of Penguin's 11 injury. 12 conferred jurisdiction on courts in New York, Penguin was 13 required to show that it suffered injury "within the state." 14 After examining two competing lines of New York cases, the 15 district court reasoned that "[b]ecause Penguin pleaded 16 infringement only by American Buddha, and not by any individual 17 who downloaded material from American Buddha's site, . . . 18 business was lost through the copying of the copyrighted works by 19 American Buddha and not through their placement on the Internet." 20 Id. at 37 (characterizing the district court's analysis in Am. 21 Buddha I). 22 business was lost -- and its injury suffered -- "where the books 23 were uploaded -- Oregon or Arizona 24 downloaded and used, which could have been anywhere that the 25 Internet is available, including New York." For the district court to find that the long-arm statute The district court therefore concluded that Penguin's -- not where they were Id. (same). 26 On appeal to this Court, we decided that resolution of 27 the appeal "require[d] a determination of how the New York State 28 Legislature intended to weigh the breadth of protection to New 5 1 Yorkers whose copyrights have allegedly been infringed against 2 the burden on non-resident alleged infringers whose connection to 3 New York may be remote and who may reasonably have failed to 4 foresee that their actions would have consequences in New York." 5 Id. at 32; see also id. at 37-41 (reviewing the legislative 6 history of the relevant long-arm provisions and New York cases 7 interpreting them). 8 9 We therefore certified the following question to the New York Court of Appeals:5 "In copyright infringement cases, is 10 the situs of injury for purposes of determining long-arm 11 jurisdiction under N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 302(a)(3)(ii) the location of 12 the infringing action or the residence or location of the 13 principal place of business of the copyright holder?" 14 Id. at 32. On March 24, 2011, the Court of Appeals answered a 15 "narrow[ed] and reformulate[d]" version of our question. 16 Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, 16 N.Y.3d 295, 301, --- N.E.2d --- 17 , ---, --- N.Y.S.2d ---, --- (2011) ("Am. Buddha III"). 18 Court rephrased our question as follows: 19 infringement cases involving the uploading of a copyrighted 20 printed literary work onto the Internet, is the situs of injury 21 for purposes of determining long-arm jurisdiction under N.Y. 22 C.P.L.R. § 302(a)(3)(ii) the location of the infringing action or 23 the residence or location of the principal place of business of 5 Penguin The "In copyright The district court does not have statutory authority to ask the New York Court of Appeals for its views on unsettled and important issues of New York law. We do. See N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 500.27(a). 6 1 the copyright holder?" 2 N.Y.S.2d at --- (emphasis added).6 3 New York copyright owner alleging infringement sustains an in- 4 state injury pursuant to CPLR 302(a)(3)(ii) when its printed 5 literary work is uploaded without permission onto the Internet 6 for public access." 7 at ---. 8 9 Id. at 301-02, --- N.E.2d at ---, --The Court concluded that "a Id. at 304, --- N.E.2d at ---, --- N.Y.S.2d The New York Court of Appeals observed that "the Internet itself plays an important role in the jurisdictional 10 analysis in the specific context of this case." 11 N.E.2d at ---, --- N.Y.S.2d at ---. 12 this case involves online infringement that is dispersed 13 throughout the country and perhaps the world." 14 N.E.2d at ---, --- N.Y.S.2d at ---. 15 concluded that "it is illogical to extend" the traditional tort 16 approach that "equate[s] a plaintiff's injury with the place 17 where its business is lost or threatened" to the context of 18 "online copyright infringement cases where the place of uploading 19 is inconsequential and it is difficult, if not impossible, to 20 correlate lost sales to a particular geographic area." 21 305, --- N.E.2d at ---, --- N.Y.S.2d at ---. 6 Id. at 304, --- "[T]he alleged injury in Id. at 305, --- The Court therefore Id. at The Court of Appeals emphasized that it was not "necessary [for it] to address whether a New York copyright holder sustains an in-state injury pursuant to CPLR 302(a)(3)(ii) in a copyright infringement case that does not allege digital piracy and, therefore, express[ed] no opinion on that question." Am. Buddha III, 16 N.Y.3d at 307 n.5, --- N.E.2d at --- n.5, --- N.Y.S.2d at --- n.5. 7 1 The Court also identified the right of a copyright 2 holder "'to exclude others from using his property'" as a 3 "critical factor that tips the balance in favor of identifying 4 New York as the situs of injury." 5 --- N.Y.S.2d at --- (quoting eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 6 547 U.S. 388, 392 (2006)). 7 "undisputed" fact that "American Buddha's Web sites are 8 accessible by any New Yorker with an Internet connection," the 9 Court viewed the "absence of any evidence of the actual Id. at 305, --- N.E.2d at ---, In light of this right and the 10 downloading of Penguin's four works by users in New York" as "not 11 fatal to a finding that the alleged injury occurred in New York." 12 Id. at 306, --- N.E.2d at ---, --- N.Y.S.2d at ---. 13 The Court of Appeals rejected American Buddha's 14 assertion that its decision would "open a Pandora's box allowing 15 any nondomiciliary accused of digital copyright infringement to 16 be haled into a New York court when the plaintiff is a New York 17 copyright owner of a printed literary work." 18 N.E.2d at ---, --- N.Y.S.2d at ---. 19 the long-arm statute's "built-in safeguards against such 20 exposure," together with the requirements of the United States 21 Constitution's Due Process Clause, would guard against such 22 abuse. 23 Id. at 307, --- The Court was satisfied that Id. at 307, --- N.E.2d at ---, --- N.Y.S.2d at ---. When this appeal was last before us, we indicated that 24 "were we eventually to agree with Penguin, contrary to the 25 district court's decision, that the situs of injury was indeed 26 New York, the proper course would be to remand to the district 8 1 court to consider the remaining four factors for personal 2 jurisdiction under the long-arm statute." 3 F.3d at 41. 4 "agree with Penguin" and to conclude, for the purposes of the 5 personal jurisdiction analysis pursuant to New York's long-arm 6 statute, that the situs of Penguin's alleged injury was New York. 7 Am. Buddha II, 609 The Court of Appeals' decision now compels us to As we observed in American Buddha II, the district 8 court's opinion and order dismissing Penguin's complaint 9 addressed only the situs-of-injury issue. See id.; Am. Buddha I, 10 2009 WL 1069158, at *4, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34032, at *13 ("As 11 this issue is dispositive, it is not necessary to explore whether 12 plaintiff has met its burden on the other elements necessary to 13 establish jurisdiction under Rule 302(a)(3)(ii), or whether the 14 exercise of jurisdiction would comport with due process."). 15 therefore vacate the judgment of the district court and remand 16 this case to that court for its consideration in the first 17 instance of whether Penguin has established the four remaining 18 jurisdictional requisites, and the extent to which the assertion 19 of personal jurisdiction over American Buddha would be consistent 20 with the requirements of Due Process. We 21 For the foregoing reasons, the judgment dismissing the 22 plaintiff's complaint is vacated and the case is remanded to the 23 district court for further proceedings consistent with this 24 opinion and with the Court of Appeals' response to our certified 25 question. 9