United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM DECISION
CAMPBELL U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Bodyguard Productions (Bodyguard) filed suit against
twenty-five doe Defendants who, it alleges, illegally
downloaded and shared the motion picture “The
Hitman's Bodyguard” using BitTorrent, a
peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol. Bodyguard holds the
copyright for the film, and claims infringement under the
Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. Having
reached settlement agreements with eighteen of the
twenty-five Defendants, Bodyguard now moves for the entry of
default judgments against the remaining seven, who have
ignored their summonses and otherwise failed to participate
in the case. For the reasons set forth below, the court
grants Bodyguard's motion.
effort to curb unauthorized distribution of the movie
“The Hitman's Bodyguard, ” its copyright
holder, Bodyguard Productions, hired an investigative
service, Maverickeye UG, to monitor BitTorrent networks and
identify and compile the unique internet protocol (IP)
addresses of those who downloaded the film. Anyone who
downloads a movie or other file on a BitTorrent network
becomes part of a “swarm”-a group of peers who
all hold the same file, and from whom others can then
download separate pieces of the file. Thus, anyone who downloads a
movie contributes, as a matter of course, to its further
September 5, 2017, and September 8, 2017, Maverickeye
documented twenty-five instances in which internet users in
Utah, identified by their IP addresses, received or
transmitted a digital copy of “The Hitman's
Bodyguard” through a BitTorrent network. Bodyguard
brought this action against twenty-five doe Defendants
identified only by their IP addresses, then issued subpoenas
to various internet service providers to learn the name and
address of each IP address holder. It sent each named
Defendant a letter proposing settlement.
reached settlement agreements with eighteen of the
Defendants. Seven never responded to the letter or to
subsequent summonses: Mohamed Jamal (Doe 3), Andranek
Manukyan (Doe 6), Corbin Roper (Doe 13), Alexander Hamilton
(Doe 14), Corey Adams (Doe 15), Reda Jamal (Doe 16), and Josh
Solt (Doe 20).
Clerk of Court entered certificates of default against the
seven Defendants (the “Defendants in default”)
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), and
Bodyguard now moves the court for entry of default judgments
pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2). In addition, Bodyguard seeks an
award of statutory damages in the amount of $10, 000 per
Defendant, as well as a permanent injunction barring the
Defendants from copying or distributing the film without
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 authorizes the court to enter
default judgment against a party who “has failed to
plead or otherwise defend” against claims for
affirmative relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). It sets forth a
two-step process. First, the clerk of court “must enter
the party's default” under Rule 55(a). Second, a
party may move the court (or, in certain circumstances, the
clerk) for entry of default judgment under Rule 55(b).
entry of a default judgment is committed to the sound
discretion of the district court.” Tripodi v.
Welch, 810 F.3d 761, 764 (10th Cir. 2016). Default
judgments are generally disfavored, as “[t]he preferred
disposition of any case is upon the merits.” Gomes
v. Williams, 420 F.2d 1364, 1366 (10th Cir. 1970). But
“a workable system of justice requires that litigants
not be free to appear at their pleasure.” Cessna
Fin. Corp. v. Bielenberg Masonry Contracting, Inc., 715
F.2d 1442, 1444 (10th Cir. 1983). Parties must be held
“to a reasonably high standard of diligence in
observing the courts' rules of procedure[, ]” and
“[t]he threat of judgment by default serves as an
incentive to meet this standard.” Id. at
judgment “must be supported by a sufficient basis in
the pleadings.” Tripodi, 810 F.3d at 765.
After the clerk has entered default, “it remains for
the court to consider whether the unchallenged facts
constitute a legitimate cause of action.” Bixler v.
Foster, 596 F.3d 751, 762 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting 10A
Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary K. Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688, at 63
(3d ed. 1998)); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6) (“An
allegation . . . is admitted if a responsive pleading is
required and the allegation is not denied.”). The court
must first assure itself of personal and subject matter
jurisdiction. Williams v. Life Sav. & Loan, 802
F.2d 1200, 1203 (10th Cir. 1986). It must then determine
whether the plaintiff's complaint contains sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for
relief. Stampin' Up!, Inc. v. Hurst, No.
2:16-cv-00886-CW, 2018 WL 2018066, at *4 (D. Utah May 1,
2018). The court may also look to declarations and other
exhibits when evaluating a plaintiff's claims. See,
e.g., Major Bob Music v. S. Shore Sports Bar &
Grill, Inc., No. 2:08-cv-689-DB, 2010 WL 2653330, at *1
(D. Utah June 30, 2010).
court has personal jurisdiction over all seven Defendants in
default. Each was properly served with a summons and copy of
the complaint at their residence in Utah (see Proof
of Serv., ECF No. 43), which establishes personal
jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A). The court also has
subject matter jurisdiction over this case because it arises
under an “Act of Congress relating to . . .
copyrights.” 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a).
copyright infringement claim has two elements: “(1)
ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of
constituent elements of the work that are original.”
Blehm v. Jacobs, 702 F.3d 1193, 1199 (10th Cir.
2012) (quoting Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel.
Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991)). Along with its
complaint, Bodyguard submitted a copy of its certificate of
registration of ...