Killer Joe Nevada v. Leaverton, No. 14-3274 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
This appeal stemmed from a copyright dispute over the 2012 motion picture "Killer Joe." Plaintiff filed suit against defendant for copyright infringement and defendant counterclaimed for a declaratory judgment. The district court dismissed the suit, dismissed the counterclaim as moot, and denied defendant's requests for attorney’s fees and to make a record. Defendant appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant attorney fees because plaintiff may properly sue "John Doe" to ascertain an ISP subscriber and because plaintiff promptly dismissed its lawsuit once it learned defendant was not the infringer and thus had proper motives to sue the subscriber. Further, defendant cites to no authority that a party’s financial status affects whether attorney’s fees under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 505, should be awarded. Therefore, it was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to fail explicitly to consider the factor of financial status. The court rejected defendant's remaining claims and affirmed the judgment.
Court Description: Benton, Author, with Loken and Shepherd, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Copyright Act. The district court did not err in denying defendant's request for attorneys' fees where plaintiff voluntarily dismissed its complaint; the district court did not err in finding plaintiff did not have an improper motive in bringing the suit, and there is no authority that a Copyright Act suit based on an infringer's IP address is frivolous or unreasonable.