The district court abused its discretion in denying attorney fees to the plaintiff owner of the copyright in a film that the defendant illegally downloaded and shared with others on the Internet through peer-to-peer protocols. The district court was unduly critical of other industry efforts to thwart such illegal downloading and failed to properly apply the factors that Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. (1994) 510 U.S. 517 held should govern the decision on a motion for fees under the Copyright Act. The fact that plaintiff settled for only $750 in statutory damages didn’t show limited success but did emphasize the need for an attorney fee award. An award of fees would serve the Copyright Act’s purposes and deter the defendant’s blatant and continuing violations of that Act. Defendant’s defense was frivolous as well.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (McKeown, J.); July 24, 2018; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20521