«UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA Miami Division Case No. _ ATLANTIC RECORDING CORPORATION, WARNER BROS. RECORDS INC., UMG ...»
Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 1 of 20
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. _____________
ATLANTIC RECORDING CORPORATION,
WARNER BROS. RECORDS INC., UMG
RECORDINGS, INC., SONY MUSICENTERTAINMENT, and CAPITOL RECORDS, LLC,
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
AND FOR DECLARATORYPlaintiffs,
AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEFv.
ANDREW SAMPSON, AUROUS GROUP, INC.,and DOES 1-10 Defendants.
Plaintiffs Atlantic Recording Corporation, Warner Bros. Records Inc., UMG Recordings, Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, and Capitol Records, LLC, by their attorneys, hereby allege as
1. Plaintiffs are record companies that, along with their affiliated companies, produce, manufacture, distribute, sell, and license the vast majority of legitimate commercial sound recordings in this country. Three days ago, Defendants launched a service that blatantly infringes the Plaintiffs’ copyrights by enabling Internet users to search for, stream, and download pirated copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings for immediate listening and later playback.
Defendants have designed their service specifically to search for and retrieve these copies from a carefully chosen set of online sources notorious for offering pirated music, and Defendants are openly encouraging and assisting infringement of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings. Defendants’ Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 2 of 20 service uses software called Aurous; this Complaint refers to Defendants’ software and service collectively as “Aurous.”
2. It is well known that rampant copyright infringement of sound recordings over the Internet has had a devastating impact on the music industry, including on artists who make their living selling and licensing their music. Extensive and costly anti-piracy efforts by Plaintiffs and other copyright owners over the last fifteen-plus years have sought to combat the growth of Internet piracy. At the same time, working with legitimate services, Plaintiffs and other copyright owners have spurred the development of a wide array of legal ways for consumers to enjoy streaming and downloaded music over the Internet. These include such popular services as Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play, Rhapsody, and Spotify, among dozens of others.
3. Two types of Internet piracy have particular relevance to this case. First, certain businesses operate websites offering vast collections of pirated copies of popular recorded music, and locate their operations overseas in an effort to evade U.S. copyright infringement liability.
Defendants have designed Aurous to retrieve music exclusively from such known pirate sites.
4. Second, the BitTorrent network – a decentralized Internet network that allows for the rapid uploading and downloading of files among the computers of individual users – is notorious for the availability of pirated copies of popular music, movies, television shows, and other copyrighted works. However, using BitTorrent for piracy requires a certain level of technical knowledge to navigate a variety of software programs, Internet sites, and services to find, download, and play back files found on BitTorrent. In the lead-up to their October 10, 2015 public launch of Aurous, Defendants generated considerable publicity by promising a service that would provide all the unauthorized music available on the BitTorrent network in a Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 3 of 20 single service (Aurous) easy enough for anyone to use to stream, download, and play back any unauthorized copies of any recorded music they want.
5. This scheme is reflected in the headline of one article that Defendants linked to as part of their promotion of the service: “Aurous is BitTorrent Music for Your Dad.” In the same vein, referring to “Popcorn Time,” a notorious service that similarly makes it easy for users to stream pirated copies of movies and TV shows via the BitTorrent network, Defendants have promoted themselves by linking to an article with the headline: “Introducing the Popcorn Time for Music.” However, although still seeking publicity based on an association with BitTorrent, Defendants to date have not included in their service the ability to search for files on the BitTorrent network; instead, they have designed their service to retrieve recorded music exclusively from the overseas pirate sites mentioned above.
6. In pre-launch posts on social media, Defendants have freely acknowledged that their service will be used to commit copyright infringement of recorded music, and post-launch, Defendants have already provided technical assistance to facilitate the infringement of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings specifically. On their website, Defendants have boasted that “We’ve made it easier than ever to search for the songs you want. Want to listen to your favourite [sic] bands [sic] newest album? We have it. Want to enjoy an obscure 80’s hit? We have that too.”
7. On the day after Aurous’ October 10, 2015 public launch, which the Defendants have called an “alpha” release (referring to a stage of software development), Defendants reported that thousands of users had already visited their site to download the Aurous software.
The very next day, Defendant Sampson reported that nearly 8,000 users at the moment were visiting the Aurous webpage where downloads of the Aurous software are made available.
Defendants indeed make it effortless for Internet users to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights, Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 4 of 20 providing the ability to search known overseas pirate websites for unauthorized copies of recorded music and then stream the music live and download it for later playback. Defendants are well aware of the copyright infringement caused by their service and willfully intend for it to happen. Defendants receive a financial benefit from the draw of copyright infringement, including in the form of a large and increasing user base, and fail to take steps in their power to stop or limit infringement.
8. The predictable effect of Defendants’ plan to profit from providing an easy-to-use service for copyright infringement over the Internet is to greatly increase infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights, causing Plaintiffs significant and irreparable harm. Defendants’ business is new, but its business plan is old: illegally profiting from piracy by free riding on the creative efforts and investments of others. Plaintiffs are entitled to a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to stop Defendants’ flagrant violation of Plaintiffs’ rights. Plaintiffs are further entitled to damages, as detailed below.
United States, Title 17, United States Code §§ 101, et seq.
10. Under Section 106 of the Copyright Act, Plaintiffs have the distinct, severable, and exclusive rights to, among other things, reproduce and distribute their works to the public and to perform those works publicly by means of a digital audio transmission. 17 U.S.C.
§§ 106(1), (3), (6).
11. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that Defendants willfully infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights under federal law. Plaintiffs also seek an injunction prohibiting Defendants from further infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights and an injunction, pursuant to Section 502 of the Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 5 of 20 Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 502(a)), 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), and this Court’s inherent equitable powers, prohibiting Defendants and third parties with notice of the injunction from facilitating access to or providing support for any or all domain names and websites through which Defendants infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights and other rights in Plaintiffs’ sound recordings.
Plaintiffs further seek actual damages or statutory damages in the amount of $150,000 for each infringed work as allowed under Section 504 of the Copyright Act for willful copyright infringement.
12. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a).
13. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants pursuant to Fla. Stat.
§ 48.193, for at least the following reasons: Defendants are citizens and residents of the State of Florida; Defendants have been operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business or business venture in this state; Defendants are engaging in, causing, inducing, materially contributing to, supervising and controlling, and receiving a direct financial benefit from copyright infringement within this state; and Defendants are engaged in substantial and not isolated activity within this state.
15. Plaintiff Atlantic Recording Corporation is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its principal place of business in the State of New York.
Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 6 of 20
16. Plaintiff Warner Bros. Records Inc. is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its principal place of business in the State of California.
17. Plaintiff UMG Recordings, Inc. is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its principal place of business in the State of California.
18. Plaintiff Sony Music Entertainment is a partnership duly formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its principal place of business in the State of New York.
19. Plaintiff Capitol Records, LLC is a limited liability company duly formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its principal place of business in the State of California.
20. Plaintiffs Atlantic Recording Corporation, Warner Bros. Records Inc., UMG Recordings, Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, and Capitol Records, LLC are collectively referred to herein as “Plaintiffs.”
21. Plaintiffs, along with their affiliated companies, are the copyright owners or owners of exclusive rights with respect to the vast majority of copyrighted sound recordings sold in the United States. Under the Copyright Act, Plaintiffs have, inter alia, the exclusive rights to reproduce the copyrighted works, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted works to the public, to perform publicly the copyrighted works by means of digital transmission, and to authorize or license any such activities. See 17 U.S.C. §§ 106(1), (3), (6). Plaintiffs are also the owners of sound recordings protected under state law.
22. Plaintiffs manufacture, distribute, license, and sell phonorecords (e.g., the material objects and/or digital files containing recorded music) in the form of CDs, cassettes and other tangible media. Plaintiffs also distribute their sound recordings in the form of digital audio Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 7 of 20 files delivered or performed via the Internet. Plaintiffs and legitimate services with which they work provide a wide variety of authorized ways for consumers to enjoy recorded music distributed and performed over the Internet, including digital download and/or streaming services like Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Rhapsody, Spotify, and many others. Unlike Defendants’ service, these services operate lawfully and pay Plaintiffs for sound recordings that they distribute or perform.
23. Plaintiffs have invested and continue to invest significant money, time, effort, and creative talent to discover and develop recording artists, and to create, manufacture, advertise, promote, sell, and license sound recordings embodying their performances. Plaintiffs, their employees, their recording artists, and others in the music industry are compensated for their creative efforts and monetary investments largely from the sale and distribution of sound recordings to the public, including the authorized online sale and distribution described above.
numerous and rapidly growing number of sound recordings to which Plaintiffs and/or their affiliated and/or predecessor companies own exclusive rights under copyright that have been and are being infringed by Defendants. As set forth in Exhibit A, the copyright in each of these sound recordings is registered in the United States Copyright Office. See 17 U.S.C. §§ 409-412.
Plaintiffs intend to amend the Complaint at an appropriate time to provide an expanded list of works infringed by Defendants.
25. Defendant Andrew Sampson (“Sampson”) lives in North Miami, Florida. On information and belief, he is personally directing and participating in, and personally receiving a direct financial benefit from, the conduct alleged herein. Sampson describes himself as the lead Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 8 of 20 software developer for the Aurous service and the individual responsible for decisions regarding the service. Sampson is the President of Defendant Aurous Group, Inc.
26. Defendant Aurous Group, Inc. (“Aurous Group”) is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Florida, with its principal place of business in North Miami, Florida.
27. Defendants Does 1-10 are individuals who, along with Defendants Sampson and Aurous Group, own and/or operate Defendants’ service, but whose identities and addresses are currently unknown to Plaintiffs.
28. Defendants Sampson, Aurous Group, and Does 1-10 are collectively referred to as “Defendants.” On information and belief, at all times relevant hereto, Defendants served as the agents of one another in infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights.