United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Flowers Conti Chief United States District Judge
Asia Johnson, pro se, filed an “Application to
Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs,
” (ECF No. 1), with an attached complaint that sues
Beyonce Knowles Carter for copyright infringement, pursuant
to 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq. On April 11, 2018,
plaintiff filed the AO 121 Form “Report on the Filing
or Determination of an Action or Appeal Regarding a
Copyright” (ECF No. 2). On that form she indicates as
the subject of her action for copyright infringement two
works that she owns or authored: 1) Copyright Registration
No. 1-6055451152 for “Sirius A & A;” and 2)
Copyright Registration No. 16098519063 for “Public
Awareness Act.” Id.
court granted plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis based on her showing of indigence. Gray v.
Martinez, 352 Fed.Appx. 656, 658 (3d Cir. 2009)
(indicating that in “this Circuit, . . . if [the court]
is convinced that [plaintiff] is unable to pay the court
costs and filing fees, the court will grant leave to proceed
in forma pauperis . . . [and] thereafter considers
the separate question whether the complaint should be
dismissed.”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e),
prior to ordering service of the complaint without payment of
the filing fee, however, the court must dismiss the case if
it determines that the action is “frivolous or
malicious, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), or
“fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,
” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Roman v.
Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 195 (“the appropriate time
to make a decision to dismiss a case pursuant to § 1915
is before service of a complaint).
purpose of the in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915, is to assure equal and meaningful access to the
courts for indigent litigants. Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 324, 329 (1989). Congress also provided in the
in forma pauperis statute for dismissal of
complaints under certain circumstances in order to
“prevent abusive or captious litigation” that
could result because a plaintiff proceeding in forma
pauperis does not have the economic incentive ordinarily
created by otherwise required filing fees and costs to
refrain from filing frivolous, malicious or repetitive
lawsuits. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 324.
complaint filed pursuant to the in forma pauperis
statute is subject to preservice dismissal under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i) where it is based upon indisputably
meritless legal theory or factual assertions that are clearly
baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. In determining
whether the factual assertions are clearly baseless, and the
complaint therefore is frivolous, the court may pierce the
veil of the complaint and need not accept its allegations as
true. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).
Examples of baseless claims include “claims describing
fantastic or delusional scenarios, claims with which federal
district judges are all too familiar.” 490 U.S. at 328.
Additionally, as provided for expressly by §
1915(e)(2)(ii), the court also must dismiss the complaint if
it fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted,
which is the same standard for dismissing a claim under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Scheib v.
Butcher, Civ. Act. No. 14-cv-1247, 2014 WL 4851902, at *
1 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 25, 2014).
complaint provides with respect to the amount in controversy
“lost of copy writted work and information.” (ECF
No. 5 at 6). The complaint in sum alleges that “Beyonce
took my email to Roc Nation and messages to Jay Z inbox on FB
claiming my work to be hers took my educational network
without any payment.” (ECF No. 5 at 6). With respect to
relief, plaintiff requests “400 mill continue to use
the messages from Jay Z inbox of my ideas. I owen.”
(ECF No. 5 at 7).
considering the complaint, the court may appropriately take
judicial notice of matters of public record, Buck v.
Hampton Tp. School Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir.
2006), including the federal copyright registrations
published in the United States Copyright Office's
registry. Island Software and Computer Service, Inc. v.
Microsoft Corp., 413 F.3d 257, 261 (2d Cir. 2005);
Raucci v. Candy & Toy Factory, 45 F.Supp.3d 440,
451 (E.D. Pa. 2015); 5B Charles A. Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1357
(2004) (court may consider matters of public record, items
subject to judicial notice, and matters incorporated into or
relied upon in plaintiff's complaint). According to the
United States Copyright Office, copyright registration
numbers must have a total of 12 characters. United States
Copyright Office, https://cocatalog.loc.gov/help/regnum.htm
(last visited May 8, 2018). The 2 items indicated by
plaintiff as the copyrights sued upon have registration
numbers with only 11 characters, and therefore, are not
proper copyright registration numbers. Additionally, despite
plaintiff's listing, there does not appear to be any work
registered with the copyright office work entitled
“Public Awareness Act.” With respect to the work
entitled “Sirius A&A, ” however, it appears
from the public record and a certificate of registration
filed on the docket by plaintiff that there is some
“text only” registration that was issued at
TXu002082224 on December 1, 2017, and indicates the owner is
Asia Johnson. (ECF No. 6 [copyright office notes]).
upon review of the complaint, the court determines that the
claims presented and relief sought by plaintiff are based on
a fantastic or delusional factual scenario. Neitzke,
490 at 327-328. Ordinarily, a court must grant plaintiff the
opportunity to amend, if amendment can cure the deficiencies
in the complaint. Where, however, amendment cannot cure the
deficiencies, such as where the complaint is frivolous under
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), the court may dismiss the complaint
with prejudice without leave to amend. Grayson v. Mayview
State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 112-113 (3d Cir. 2002)
(“[D]ismissals of frivolous claims do not require leave
to amend.”). Based upon the court's determination
that the complaint is frivolous, it will dismiss the
complaint without leave to amend.
appropriate order follows.
 Section 1915(e)(2)(B) was formerly
codified at § 1915(d).
 On May 8, 2018, plaintiff filed a
completed Washington state form RCW 4.28.100 motion for
service by mail. (ECF No. 7). As a result of the court's
determination that it will dismiss the complaint as