Righthaven LLC v. DiBiase

Filing 45

ORDER Denying 27 Motion to Dismiss and Granting in part and Denying in part 17 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Chief Judge Roger L. Hunt on 4/15/2011. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - SLR)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 10 *** 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 RIGHTHAVEN, LLC, a Nevada limitedliability company, ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) ) THOMAS A. DIBIASE, an individual, ) ) Defendant. ) _______________________________________) THOMAS A. DIBIASE, an individual, ) ) Counterclaimant, ) ) vs. ) ) RIGHTHAVEN, LLC, a Nevada limited) liability company, ) ) Counterdefendant. ) _______________________________________) Case No.: 2:10-cv-01343-RLH-PAL ORDER (Motion to Dismiss–#17; Motion to Dismiss–#27) Before the Court is Defendant/Counterclaimant Thomas A. DiBiase’s Motion to 24 Dismiss (#17, filed Oct. 29, 2010) for failure to state a claim. The Court has also considered 25 Plaintiff/Counterdefendant Righthaven, LLC’s Opposition (#29, filed Dec. 2, 2010), and DiBiase’s 26 Reply (#35, filed Dec. 15, 2010). AO 72 (Rev. 8/82) 1 1 Also before the Court is Righthaven’s Motion to Dismiss (#27, filed Dec. 1, 2010) 2 for failure to state a claim. The Court has also considered DiBiase’s Opposition (#37, filed Jan. 7, 3 2011), and Righthaven’s Reply (#39, filed Jan. 17, 2011). 4 BACKGROUND 5 DiBiase maintains a website that publishes information regarding the prosecution of 6 so-called “no-body” murder cases—a homicide prosecution where the victim is missing and 7 presumed dead, but no body is found. Righthaven filed suit against DiBiase for copyright 8 infringement alleging that DiBiase displayed a Las Vegas Review Journal article concerning a “no- 9 body” murder case on his website. Righthaven claims to be the copyright owner of that article. 10 Righthaven’s complaint seeks several remedies, only two of which are relevant for this order: (1) 11 an order transferring control of the domain name of DiBiase’s website to Righthaven, and (2) 12 attorney’s fees. DiBiase brought a counterclaim against Righthaven for declaratory relief, asking 13 the Court to declare that he did not infringe on Righthaven’s alleged copyright. 14 Both parties subsequently filed motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the 15 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. DiBiase’s motion is limited to a request that the Court dismiss 16 Righthaven’s demand for transfer of his website’s domain name and for attorney’s fees. 17 Righthaven’s motion requests the Court to dismiss DiBiase’s counterclaim. For the reasons 18 discussed below, the Court denies Righthaven’s motion and grants DiBiase’s motion in part and 19 denies it in part. 20 21 22 DISCUSSION I. Legal Standard A court may dismiss a plaintiff’s complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which 23 relief can be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(6) is an appropriate vehicle to 24 challenge legally deficient remedies. See Whittlestone v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 974 (9th 25 Cir. 2010). A properly pled complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim 26 showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While Rule 8 does not AO 72 (Rev. 8/82) 2 1 require detailed factual allegations, it demands “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic 2 recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). 3 “Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 4 555. Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to 5 “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (internal citation 6 omitted). In Iqbal, the Supreme Court recently clarified the two-step approach district courts 7 8 are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, a district court must accept as true all 9 well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the 10 assumption of truth. Id. at 1950. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only 11 by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 1949. Second, a district court must consider 12 whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950. A 13 claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff’s complaint alleges facts that allows the court to draw 14 a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 1949. Where 15 the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the 16 complaint has “alleged—but not shown—that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (internal 17 quotation marks omitted). When the claims in a complaint have not crossed the line from 18 conceivable to plausible, plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. 19 II. DiBiase’s Motion to Dismiss 20 As mentioned above, DiBiase’s motion is limited to a request that the Court dismiss 21 Righthaven’s demand for an order transferring DiBiase’s website domain name to Righthaven and 22 for attorney’s fees. 23 A. 24 Transfer of Domain Name Righthaven’s complaint requests the Court to direct Heritage Web Design, LLC, the 25 current registrar of DiBiase’s website domain name (www.nobodycases.com), to lock that domain 26 and transfer control of it to Righthaven. However, “[t]he remedies for infringement ‘are only AO 72 (Rev. 8/82) 3 1 those prescribed by Congress,’” Sony Corp. Of Am. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 2 431 (1984) (quoting Thompson v. Hubbard, 131 U.S. 123, 151 (1889)), and Congress has never 3 expressly granted plaintiffs in copyright infringement cases the right to seize control over the 4 defendant’s website domain. Therefore, the Court finds that Righthaven’s request for such relief 5 fails as a matter of law and is dismissed. 6 B. 7 Attorney’s Fees Righthaven’s complaint also requests attorney’s fees incurred by Righthaven in this 8 action pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505. Under § 505, the Court has discretion to award reasonable 9 attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. DiBiase argues that the Court should dismiss Righthaven’s 10 request for attorney’s fees because such relief requires an independent attorney-client relationship. 11 DiBiase further argues that because Righthaven’s principals are its lawyers there is not an 12 independent attorney-client relationship. Although the Court finds merit in DiBiase’s argument, it 13 nevertheless denies his motion because any determination on attorney’s fees at this point in the 14 litigation is simply premature. 15 III. 16 Righthaven’s Motion to Dismiss DiBiase’s counterclaim against Righthaven seeks a declaration by the Court that 17 DiBiase has not infringed Righthaven’s copyright. Righthaven asks the Court to dismiss that 18 counterclaim because it is unnecessary and duplicative of the issues already presented in 19 Righthaven’s complaint. The Court disagrees. The Court finds that DiBiase’s counterclaim serves 20 a useful purpose because, among other things, it will guide DiBiase’s website operations (and the 21 operations of other, similarly situated parties) in the future. Furthermore, the Court finds that 22 DiBiase has pled sufficient facts to make his request for declaratory relief a plausible claim. 23 Therefore, the Court denies Righthaven’s motion. 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// AO 72 (Rev. 8/82) 4 1 CONCLUSION 2 Accordingly, and for good cause appearing, 3 IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that DiBiase’s Motion to Dismiss (#17) is GRANTED 4 in part and DENIED in part, as described herein. 5 6 7 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Righthaven’s Motion to Dismiss (#27) is DENIED. Dated: April 15, 2011 8 ____________________________________ ROGER L. HUNT Chief United States District Judge 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 AO 72 (Rev. 8/82) 5

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?