MALIBU MEDIA, LLC v. DOE
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE STEWART DALZELL ON 2/2/15. 2/2/15 ENTERED & E-MAILED. COPY MAILED TO JOHN DOE BY CHAMBERS. (fdc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MALIBU MEDIA, LLC
FEB 0 2 2015
JOHN DOE subscriber assigned
IP address 220.127.116.11
MICHAELE. KUNZ, Clerk
February 2, 2015
Before us in this copyright infringement action are cross-motions for summary judgment.
Because we find that the plaintiff has failed to (1) make a prima facie case of copyright
infringement and (2) show that evidence allegedly spoliated was relevant to its claim, we will
deny plaintiffs motion for summary judgment and grant defendant's pro se motion for summary
Standards of Review
Summary judgment is warranted if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A party moving
for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating no genuine issue of material fact
exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 n. 10 (1986). To
that end, the movant must inform the district court of the basis for its argument by "identifying
those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
Where the movant is the
defendant or the party that does not have the burden of proof on the underlying claim, it "has no
obligation to produce evidence negating its opponent's case." National State Bank v. Federal
Reserve Bank of New York, 979 F.2d 1579, 1582 (3d Cir. 1992). The movant need only point to
the lack of evidence supporting the non-movant' s claim. Id.
When both parties move for summary judgment, our task is no different. As our Court of
Appeals cautioned many years ago,
Cross-motions are no more than a claim by each side that it alone
is entitled to summary judgment, and the making of such
inherently contradictory claims does not constitute an agreement
that if one is rejected the other is necessarily justified or that the
losing party waives judicial consideration and determination
whether genuine issues of material fact exist. If any such issue
exists it must be disposed of by a plenary trial and not on summary
Rains v. Cascade Industries, Inc., 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 1968). Cross-motions must be
considered separately and should not be interpreted necessarily to mean that judgment should be
entered as to either one of them. Each party, as a movant for summary judgment, bears the
burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that he or it is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law. lOA Charles Alan Wright and Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice &
Procedure, §2720 (3d ed. 2014). As in any summary judgment motion, the determination
whether a genuine issue concerning a material fact exists is itself a question of law that the Court
must decide. It does not depend upon what either or both of the parties may have thought about
the matter. A party moving for summary judgment concedes the absence of a factual issue and
the truth of the nonmoving party's allegations only for purposes of its own motion. Id. As
Wright and Miller observe, "It follows that the legal theories the movant advances in support of a
Rule 56 motion and the assertion that there is no issue of material fact may not be used against
the movant when the court rules on his adversary's motion." Id.
The reviewing court should view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Scheidemantle v. Slippery Rock
Univ. State Sys. of Higher Educ., 470 F.3d 535, 538 (3d Cir. 2006). A factual dispute is
"genuine" if it turns on "evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Id. at 248. That is, "only disputes over
facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude"
summary judgment. Boyle v. County of Allegheny Pennsylvania, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir.
1998) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).
Because we consider cross-motions before us, "[t]he fact that one party fails to satisfy
that burden on his own Rule 56 motion does not automatically indicate that the opposing party
has satisfied his burden and should be granted summary judgment on the other motion." lOA
Wright & Miller at §2720. Both motions must be denied if we find there is a genuine issue of
material fact, but, if there is no genuine issue and one or the other party is entitled to prevail as a
matter of law, the court may render judgment. Id.
It is well-established that Rule 56 obliges the nonmoving party seeking to defeat a motion
for summary judgment "to go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the
'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; see also Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c). The nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that
contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. To prevail on a
motion for summary judgment, "the non-moving party must present more than a mere scintilla of
evidence; 'there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-
movant].'" S.H. ex rel. Durrell v. Lower Merion School Dist., 729 F.3d 248, 256 (3d Cir. 2013)
(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252) (internal citation omitted).
By the same token, if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of its case on which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. As the Supreme Court observed in
Celotex, "a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. The moving party is entitled to a judgment as
a matter of law because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof." Id. at 323
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
To establish a claim of copyright infringement, a plaintiff must establish: (1) ownership
of a valid copyright; and (2) unauthorized copying of original elements of the plaintiff's work.
Dun & Bradstreet Software Servs., Inc. v. Grace Consulting, Inc., 307 F.3d 197, 206 (3d Cir.
2002). "Copying refers to the act of infringing any of the exclusive rights that accrue to the
owner of a valid copyright, as set forth at 17 U.S.C. § 106, including the rights to distribute and
reproduce copyrighted material." Kay Berry. Inc. v. Taylor Gifts, Inc., 421F.3d199, 207 (3d
Cir. 2005) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
But not all copying constitutes a copyright infringement. Our Court of Appeals has long
held that the copying must constitute "improper appropriation." Id. at 208 (quoting Universal
Athletic Sales Co. v. Salkeld, 511 F.2d 904, 907 (3d Cir. 1975)); see also Arnstein v. Porter, 154
F.2d 464 (2d Cir. 1946). The Court explained in Kay Berry that the second part of the
infringement inquiry "may be demonstrated by showing that the defendant had access to the
copyrighted work and that the original and allegedly infringing works share substantial
similarities." Id. at 207-08 (citing Ford Motor Co. v. Summit Motor Prods., Inc., 930 F.2d 277,
291 (3d Cir. 1991)). In our Circuit, "substantial similarity" turns on two considerations -- "(1)
whether the defendant copied from the plaintiff's work and (2) whether the copying, if proven,
went so far as to constitute an improper appropriation." Id. (internal citation omitted). The issue
of substantial similarity is frequently a fact issue for jury resolution because the fact-finder may
need to compare two works, see Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. MCA. Inc., 715 F.2d 1327
(9th Cir. 1983). But a court may determine non-infringement as a matter of law on a motion for
summary judgment when no reasonable jury, properly instructed, could find that the two works
are substantially similar. See Durham Industries, Inc. v. Tomy Corp., 630 F.2d 905, 918 (2d Cir.
Spoliation is the destruction or significant alteration of evidence, or the failure to preserve
property for another's use as evidence in pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation. See West
v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., 167 F.3d 776, 779 (2d Cir. 1999).
The duty to preserve applies only to relevant data, documents and things. As our Court
of Appeals observed in Schmid v. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., 13 F.3d 76, 78 (3d Cir. 1994),
Since the early 17th century, courts have admitted evidence
tending to show that a party destroyed evidence relevant to the
dispute being litigated. Jamie S. Gorelick, Steven Marzen and
Lawrence Solum, Destruction of Evidence, § 2.1 (1989). Such
evidence permitted an inference, the "spoliation inference," that
As the leading treatise explains, "Ordinarily both ... works are attached to, and regarded, as a
part of the pleadings. . . . Upon review of the works themselves, if the court concludes that no
trier of fact could rationally determine the two to be substantially similar, it can render a defense
judgment as a matter oflaw." 3 Melville B. Nimmer and David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright,
§12.10[B] (Matthew Bender, Rev. Ed. 2014).
the destroyed evidence would have been unfavorable to the
position of the offending party. As Judge Breyer put it in Nationwide Check Corp. v. Forest Hills Distributors, Inc., 692 F.2d 214,
218 (1st Cir. 1982), "the evidentiary rationale [for the spoliation
inference] is nothing more than the common sense observation that
a party who has notice that [evidence] is relevant to litigation and
who proceeds to destroy [evidence] is more likely to have been
threatened by [that evidence] than is a party in the same position
who does not destroy the document." ....
Our Court of Appeals imposes a four-factor test to evaluate spoliation claims, under
which we may find that spoliation occurs where: "the evidence was in the party's control; the
evidence is relevant to the claims or defenses in the case; there has been actual suppression or
withholding of evidence; and, the duty to preserve the evidence was reasonably foreseeable to
the party." Bull v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 665 F.3d 68, 73 (3d Cir. 2012). "The party who
seeks a spoliation sanction bears the burden of proving these factors." Universal Underwriters
Ins. Co. v. Dedicated Logistics, Inc., 2014 WL 7335668 at *4 (W.D.Pa. Dec. 19, 2014).
The decision to sanction is at the Court's discretion. Zubulake v. USB Warburg LLC,
229 F.R.D. 422, 430 (S.D.N.Y. 2004); see also Schmid, 13 F.3d at 79.
Factual and Procedural History
Malibu Media produces and distributes adult films under the brand "X-Art". MSJ at 5.
On February 28, 2014, it filed suit against an unknown defendant alleging a single count of direct
infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501 et seq. See Cmplt. Specifically, the plaintiff claims
that between September 2, 2013 and February 9, 2014 a person using the assigned Internet
Protocol ("IP") address 18.104.22.168 downloaded fourteen movies to which Malibu Media
holds the copyright. Id. at Ex. A. Malibu Media alleged that the "persistent online infringer"
had relied on the BitTorrent file distribution network ("BitTorrent"), which it described as a
popular peer-to-peer file sharing system that "allows users to interact directly with each other,
thus avoiding the need for intermediary host websites which are subject to [Digital Millennium
Copyright Act of 1998 "DMCA"] take down notices and potential regulatory enforcement
actions." Id. at 1111 2 and 12. Malibu Media alleged that the so-called BitTorrent protocol breaks
a file into small bits which users exchange and reconstitute using software on their own
computers. Id. at 11 13. As to this defendant, the complaint alleged that "[a]fter the infringer
receives all of the bits of a digital media file, the infringer's BitTorrent client software
reassembles the bits so that the file may be opened and utilized," thereby leaving a trace of the
BitTorrent software's use. Id. at 1114. Each bit of a BitTorrent file, as well as the entire digital
media file, has a unique cryptographic hash value -- which Malibu Media characterized as its
"unique digital fingerprint." Id. at 111115-17. "Once infringers complete downloading all bits
which comprise a digital media file, the BitTorrent software uses the file hash to determine that
the file is complete and accurate." Id. at 11 17.
Malibu Media further claimed that its investigator, IPP International UG, established a
direct connection with John Doe's IP address and downloaded bits from the digital movie files to
"confirm through independent calculation that the file hash matched what was listed on Exhibit
A," thereby verifying that the collected data correlating to each file hash contained a copy of the
movie Doe allegedly infringed. Id. at 1122. Incidental to its copyright infringement claim,
Malibu Media alleged that Doe's IP address had been used to distribute 755 third-party files
through BitTorrent between July 20, 2012 and February 17, 2014, showing that the defendant is
a "persistent BitTorrent user". Id. at
iii! 25, 27.
"Many of the titles to the third party works may
also be relevant to proving [d]efendant is the infringer because they correlate to the [d]efendant's
hobbies, profession, or other interests." Id. at 11 28.
On March 4, 2014, the plaintiff moved for leave to serve a third-party subpoena on
Comcast Cable, Doe's Internet Service Provider ("ISP"), and we granted that motion the
following day. See March 5, 2014 Order. On April 3, 2014, Doe filed a motion to dismiss
arguing that (1) the person using a device connected to the Internet at any given time is not
necessarily the person to whom an infringing IP address is registered; (2) an Internet address
may only show the address of the wireless router through which devices connect to the Internet
and cannot reliably show who accessed the Internet at any particular time; (3) those realities
make uncertain any efforts to identify the actual wrongdoer; (4) plaintiff can show only the
location of the alleged infringing address through its software, not the identity of the alleged
infringer; and (5) the investigator Malibu Media uses is not licensed to conduct private detective
work in Pennsylvania. MTD at 2-7. Doe also sought to quash the Comcast subpoena and to be
allowed to proceed anonymously. Id. at 2.
On May 19, 2014 we denied Doe's motion to dismiss because we agreed that plaintiffs
claims pied factual content that allowed us to draw a reasonable inference of Doe's alleged
liability and that Doe's motion raised factual issues about his identity more properly dealt with
during discovery. See May 19, 2014 Order. We also denied Doe's motion to quash the
subpoena because his proffered reasons fell outside the standards sets forth under Rule 45, id.,
but we granted his motion to proceed anonymously. Id. Once served, the defendant moved for a
protective order regarding his computers and devices which we denied on October 23, 2014 and
ordered him to make available for inspection by plaintiffs expert all computers, storage devices
and electronic media in his possession. See October 23, 2014 Order.
On December 4, 2014, Malibu Media sought an Order authorizing a second third-party
subpoena to serve on Comcast Cable to obtain records of alerts concerning excessive bandwidth
use or Notices of Infringement that Comcast may have sent to Doe. We granted that motion as
unopposed. See December 5, 2014 Order. On December 23, 2014 Malibu Media filed an
unopposed motion for a protective order concerning the Comcast data because Comcast
conditioned its production on Malibu Media obtaining a protective order allowing any
documents produced to be designated "Confidential." Mot. at 2. In our January 6, 2015 Order
granting plaintiff's motion, we ordered that all such Comcast documents should be stamped
"Confidential" and shared only with the defendant or any counsel he may obtain. See January 6,
The parties' motions for summary judgment followed. Both parties' motions and
responses were filed under seal pursuant to our May 19, 2014 Order.
It is undisputed that Malibu Media owns valid copyrights to its movies. But the parties
dispute whether plaintiff has adduced any evidence to support its contention that defendant Doe
infringed its work.
We turn first to plaintiff's motion.
Malibu Media contends that its investigator, IPP International UG, established that the
defendant's computer was used to distribute third-party files using BitTorrent between July 20,
2012 and March 26, 2014 (although the relevant period is actually September 2, 2013 and
February 9, 2014, as stated in the complaint). Pl. SOF at~ 5. Defendant, a computer technician
familiar with BitTorrent, was the only resident of the apartment during the relevant period. Id. at
9, 10. Neither his wife nor son, both of whom largely reside elsewhere, could access his
Internet or knew how to use BitTorrent. Id.
11-15. Malibu Media further contends that the
BitTorrent activity emanated from Doe's apartment "approximately 12 days each month for a
continuous period of20 months," during which time Doe's computer was password-protected.
Id. at 111116, 17.
On November 7, 2014 Malibu Media's expert, Patrick Paige, received images of Doe's
four computer devices: an HP All-in-One PC; a laptop; and two desktop computers. Id. at 1125.
He used EnCase Version 6 and 7 and Internet Evidence Finder -- two popular forensic software
programs, to analyze the hard drives. MSJ Ex.Eat 11 40. The All-in-One hard drive showed
neither BitTorrent use nor any of plaintiff's copyrighted works. Id. at 11 44. The laptop hard
drive showed no BitTorrent activity, but revealed evidence that three USB storage devices had
been connected -- the first sometime between January 13, 2013 and March 31, 2014, the next on
September 12, 2013, and the third on September 4, 2013. Id. at 11 45. None of the USB storage
devices was produced to plaintiff. Id. Using the forensic software, the first Desktop's hard drive
produced evidence of more than 300 BitTorrent file fragments dated between 2005 and 2010. Id.
at 11 47. The unallocated space on the hard drive also showed evidence of Torrent clients -- that
is to say, software for the reception of BitTorrent files -- but the software had been removed on
an indeterminate date. Id.; see also Paige Report Ex. A at 3.
The forensic software analysis of the second Desktop's hard drive produced evidence of
"a data fragment referencing 'X-Art Angelica Good Night Kiss Preview'-- one of Malibu
Media's copyrighted works listed within the Complaint for this lawsuit," but Paige was unable to
determine when it was created. Id. at iii! 48, 50. At Malibu Media's behest, he also examined
the hard drive for evidence of third parties' works and found a single work belonging to another
entity. Id. at 1152. He also found evidence that a USB storage device called a Kingston Data
Traveler G3 had been connected to that hard drive between August 19, 2013 and September 4,
2014. Id. at 1153. That device had not been produced to him for examination.
On December 16, 2014, Malibu Media deposed John Doe. In his deposition, the
defendant repeated the assertion he made in his answers to plaintiffs interrogatories that he had
neither installed nor deleted BitTorrent on any of his computers. Doe Dep. At 30:15-31:12. He
denied having a Kingston Data Traveler G3, but admitted he owned another USB storage device
which he used to copy files. Id. at 53:7-18. He stated he had turned over all computer devices in
his possession, id. at 73:4, and denied ever using any form of BitTorrent. Id. at 75:20-77:11.
Discovery closed a week later without Malibu Media asking for or receiving the storage
devices whose trace its expert found on two of Doe's computers. Malibu Media did not file a
motion to compel production.
Malibu Media urges us to grant its motion because, it contends, it produced evidence of
Doe's infringement: the 'X-Art Angelica Good Night Kiss Preview' snippet its investigator
found. MSJ at 1. It argues (1) its evidence also shows the defendant misrepresented that he had
never used BitTorrent when the Malibu Media expert found overwhelming evidence of thirdparty files; (2) defendant's answers were inconsistent; and (3) he never turned over storage
devices. Id. at 1-2. Malibu Media maintains that Doe destroyed material evidence and perjured
himself to escape liability for his actions. Id. at 7. It also argues that Doe's affirmative defense
fail: Malibu Media has a valid copyright; it can show evidence as to the extent and duration of
the alleged infringing activity; it is entitled to statutory damages. Id. at 9-15. The plaintiff
contends Doe's defenses that he did not engage in any infringement or has an implied license are
mere denials of his liability and that his other defense of unclean hands is unavailing. Id. at 1518. 2
Plaintiff also contends that Comcast Cable sent Doe nine DMCA notices detailing copyright
infringement from defendant's IP address. None of these alleged infringements involves Malibu
Media's movies. See Pl. SOF at 1!1! 20-24. Plaintiff redacted the Comcast Cable data despite our
protective Order, as a result of which we cannot evaluate this putative disclosure. Pl. MSJ at Ex.
I. Further, defendant contends that he did not receive a copy of the disclosure until January 13,
In his response in opposition, Doe points out that plaintiffs motion for summary
judgment rests on its discovery of a single reference to "X-Art Angelica Good Night Kiss
Preview." Resp. in Opp. at 1. "[T]his is not an exact match to any of their copyrighted files,"
Doe argues. Id. "Plaintiffs [e]xpert shows that beyond a name match (not even an exact one),
there is no further evidence that proves this file fragment is even a piece of plaintiffs movies."
Id. As to the computer containing this snippet, he points out that plaintiffs expert found no
traces of BitTorrent activity or any peer-to-peer sharing program on that computer. Id. at 4. He
denies having downloaded or deleted the file in question and points out that the expert report
does not include any information about the nature of the file, its size, or its creation or deletion
date, leaving open the possibility that it is a temporary record of an Internet Google search. Id. at
Doe contends that evidence of third-party files dated between 2005 and 2010 predates his
ownership of the computer and is irrelevant to this matter, and he posits that any deletions of
others' works occurred when he reformatted the computer. Id. at 2-4. He also maintains that he
would have gladly provided the Kingston Data Traveler G3 storage device, which he keeps at his
work location, as well as the other USB storage devices, but that the expert's team only asked
him for hard drives. Id. at 6. Doe offers to turn over the USB devices still in his possession (he
admits to throwing out one device that failed, but observes that its last connection date predates
all but one of the alleged infringements). Id.
In short, "[p]laintiff has never found direct evidence that any of their 14 movies were
ever present in [d]efendant's computers." Id. at 9.
2015, in contravention of our January 6, 2015 Order requiring timely disclosure. See Def. Mem.
in support at 1 and MSJ at 16-17; see also Jan. 6, 2015 Order. In short, plaintiff asks us and the
defendant to rely on its say-so as to the content of those DMCA notices. We will decline to do
so and accordingly disregard the redacted information.
We agree. For that reason, we will deny Malibu Media' motion for summary judgment.
As Celotex requires, Doe has designated "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial," 477 U.S. at 324, that is, that Malibu Media has failed to make a prima facie case of
copyright infringement because it has failed to show that any of its copyrighted works were on
the defendant's devices.
As to the snippet of "Good Night Kiss," whether it is a preview, as the name indicates, or
merely a word file, as Doe suggests, is immaterial: It is not a copy of the work itself. Our Court
of Appeals's "substantial similarity" test obliges us to determine whether Doe copied from the
plaintiff's work and whether the copying, if proven, constitutes an improper appropriation. Here
we determine as a matter of law that there was no improper appropriation because no reasonable
jury, properly instructed, could find that the data snippet bears a "substantial similarity" to
Malibu Media's copyrighted work. We conclude that, even if Doe copied the preview, his
copying would not be an improper appropriation violating Malibu Media's copyright of the
That Malibu Media chose not to ask for the missing storage devices after their existence
became evident to its expert in no way bolsters its hollow claim. Nor are we impressed by the
histrionics over alleged spoliation. Malibu Media, as the party seeking a spoliation sanction,
bears the burden of proving there has been spoliation. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co., 2014
WL 7335668 at *4 (W.D.Pa. Dec. 19, 2014). Malibu Media makes much of what it called
"additional evidence," that is, indications that Doe used his computer to infringe others' works
between 2005 and 2010 -- well before the period at issue in this case -- and then sought to scrub
the traces. Such efforts do nothing to establish Malibu Media's claim as to its copyrighted
works. It is well-established that the statute of limitations to bring claims under the Copyright
Act is three years. 18 U.S.C. § 507(b). Therefore, the use and ownership of Doe's computers
before 2011 are irrelevant here as a matter of law. While ongoing infringement supports a
copyright violation from the date of the most recent infringing act, Petrella v. Metro-GoldwynMayer, Inc., -- U.S. --, 134 S.Ct. 1962, 1969-71 (2014), Malibu Media of course has no standing
to complain of alleged infringement of works to which it does not hold the copyrights. Because
the alleged spoliation is not relevant to Malibu Media's claims in this case, and we hold there has
been no actual suppression of relevant evidence, Malibu Media has failed to satisfy Bull's fourfactor test.
Malibu Media's focus on alleged spoliation and testimony discrepancies cannot save its
motion. Indeed, its vain efforts to agitate are particularly unseemly in light of our repeated
rulings affording plaintiff wide latitude in its discovery. We find unsettling the gulf between
Malibu Media's claims in this summary judgment motion and the actual evidence -- or, more to
the point, the lack thereof -- its expert unearthed after extensive searches. And we find merit in
the skepticism with which other district courts have greeted Malibu Media's discovery motions
and subpoena requests in similar matters.
We tum to Doe's motion for summary judgment. Doe seeks summary judgment because,
he argues, plaintiff has found no evidence that he either installed BitTorrent client software or
used one to download any Malibu Media movies. Def. MSJ at 1. Doe, of course, as the party
that does not have the burden of proof as to the underlying claim "has no obligation to produce
evidence negating its opponent's case," National State Bank, 979 F.2d at 1582, but need only
point to the lack of evidence supporting the non-movant's claim.
Doe does just that.3 He argues that despite the plaintiffs assertions to the contrary, its
use of subscriber information to identify him as the allegedly infringing IP subscriber failed to
determine that he was the actual infringer. Def. MSJ at 18. The forensic expert's report likewise
failed to show Doe had downloaded any Malibu Media copyrighted works. Id. at 25. Reviewing
the expert's report, he points out that the expert does not describe the file he found and therefore
no evidence exists that it "is even an actual movie, or remnant temporary internet data" possibly
saved during searches after he was sued in this case. Id. at 14. He draws our attention to the
expert's failure to convey "additional information regarding the data fragment's essential
attributes," as a result of which he contends that "there's no way of knowing whether the data
fragment in question contained any of [Malibu Media's] copyrighted materials." Id. at 15.
"Plaintiff has, despite having 7-8 weeks to analyze [d]efendant' s hard drives, failed to
provide sufficient facts supporting an inference that the subscriber of the account is, in fact, the
individual who actually uploaded or downloaded [p]laintiffs movies[.]" Id. at 28.
John Doe also observes that plaintiffs continued assertions to the contrary, despite the
absence of any evidence, violates Rule 11 's requirement that "the factual contentions ... have
evidentiary support." Id.; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3). He points to many decisions of other
courts in which Malibu Media conceded that there was a reasonable likelihood a defendant had
no involvement in the alleged illegal downloading. Id. at 26;
Malibu Media LLC v.
John Does 1-11, 2012WL1681823 (D.D.C. Apr. 11, 2012). He does not, however, move for
sanctions under Rule 11. And, although we have the inherent power to sanction parties, see
Ferguson v. Valero Energy Corp., 454 F. App'x 109, 114 (3d Cir. 2011), we will not do so in this
Doe's motion reviews in considerable detail the expert's findings as to all four devices, but we
need not dwell on these conclusions as we have already determined that all findings with respect
to third parties and preceding this matter are irrelevant as a matter of law.
case as we have already denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.
Malibu Media urges us to deny Doe's motion. It argues that the ISP identified Doe as the
subscriber of the IP address used to infringe its works. PL Resp. at 1. Malibu Media contends
that Doe offers no evidence showing how someone else committed the infringement, when its
investigation and Doe's deposition testimony show that no one else had access to the defendant's
computer and so it could not have been anyone but Doe. Id. at 4. The plaintiff seeks to leverage
its evidence of third-party works and BitTorrent client software, as detailed above. Id. at 5. It
also again draws our attention to the expert's discovery of 'X-Art Angelica Good Night Kiss
Preview' and another third-party file on Doe's computer. Id. at 7, 8. Finally, Malibu Media
makes much of Doe's changing testimony concerning the existence of external storage devices
which he did not disclose or turn over when asked to provide his computer devices.
But Malibu Media cannot prevail here because it does not identify any evidence upon
which a jury could reasonably find for it. Malibu Media has failed to raise a genuine issue of
material fact as to its copyright claims. As is well-established, a fact is "material" if it "might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. None of
plaintiff's responses in opposition is material in the absence of evidence that Doe downloaded or
distributed any copyrighted Malibu Media works-a complete failure of proof concerning the
essential element of its claim. Malibu Media has failed to show that there is a genuine issue for
Plaintiff's efforts to shift its burden of proof onto the defendant are unavailing. However
troubling Doe's evasive and shifting answers may be, none animate "disputes over facts that
might affect the outcome of the suit" that would preclude summary judgment. Boyle, 139 F.3d
at 393 (internal citation omitted). We will therefore grant Doe's prose motion for summary
An appropriate Order follows.
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