United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER JUDGE
Malibu Media, LLC produces what is euphemistically referred
to as "adult films." Malibu alleges that Defendant
Terrelle Brickhouse infringed on four of its copyrighted
works "using the internet and BitTorrent protocol."
Mem. in Support of Motion for Default Judgment at 1 (Doc. No.
23). Malibu filed an amended complaint in this action on
January 9, 2019. Although Malibu served Mr. Brickhouse with
the amended complaint on January 21, 2019, see
Affidavit of Service (Doc. No. 20), Mr. Brickhouse failed to
file an answer or otherwise respond thereto. Malibu now moves
for an entry of default judgment, seeking statutory damages
of $1, 500 per infraction (for a total of $6, 000), a
permanent injunction, and attorneys' fees. As with all of
the other filings in this case, Mr. Brickhouse failed to
respond to the Motion for Entry of Default Judgment.
an entry of default judgment is appropriate in this case,
Malibu has failed to explain why it is entitled to $1, 500
per infraction, which is twice the statutory minimum of $750.
Because the Court concludes that the statutory minimum of
$750 is sufficient in this case, the Court awards a total of
$3, 000 in statutory damages, in addition to attorneys'
fees and a permanent injunction against Mr. Brickhouse.
alleges that the owner of IP address 126.96.36.199 illegally
downloaded and distributed four of its copyrighted works via
the BitTorrent file distribution network. Malibu identified
Terrelle Brickhouse as the IP address owner through use of a
subpoena on the internet service provider and an
investigator, IPP International. Malibu then amended its
complaint to name Mr. Brickhouse as the defendant in this
action. When Mr. Brickhouse failed to file a timely answer,
Malibu requested entry of default. The Clerk of Court entered
default on February 13, 2019, and Malibu thereafter filed
this Motion for Entry of Default Judgment and a supporting
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 governs the procedure a plaintiff
must follow to obtain a default judgment against a
nonresponsive defendant. First, if the plaintiff shows the
defendant's "fail[ure] to plead or otherwise defend,
... the clerk must enter [the defendant's] default,"
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), which is only valid if the defendant was
properly served. See Petrucelli v. Bohringer &
Ratzinger, 46 F.3d 1298, 1304 (3d Cir. 1995).
plaintiff may then "apply to the court for a default
judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). The Court's
initial inquiry is "whether the unchallenged facts
constitute a legitimate cause of action[.]" 10A Charles
Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller, et al., Federal Practice and
Procedure § 2688.1 (4th ed. 2019) (citing cases). As
with the motion to dismiss stage, the Court accepts as true
the well-pleaded factual allegations in the plaintiffs
complaint, except those relating to damages, as though they
were admitted or established by proof. Comdyne I, Inc. v.
Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990). The Court
also accepts all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from
the complaint. Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v.
Yakubets, 3 F.Supp.3d 261, 270 (E.D. Pa. 2014). However,
conclusory allegations and the parties' legal theories or
"conclusions of law" are not entitled to the same
presumption and are not deemed admitted. Wright & Miller,
supra, § 2688.1.
Court determines that the plaintiff has stated a cause of
action, it must then assess damages. Unlike liability,
damages "cannot be awarded simply on the basis of the
pleadings, but must instead be established at an evidentiary
hearing held pursuant to [Rule] 55(b)(2)," unless
damages are "liquidated or computable" or the
plaintiff otherwise submits such proof without a hearing.
Comdyne I, 908 F.2d at 1152. Rule 55(b)(2)'s
language regarding hearings is permissive, however. If the
court can determine the amount of damages to be awarded based
on affidavits or other evidentiary materials, "[t]he
Court is under no requirement to conduct an evidentiary
hearing with testimony." E. Elec. Corp. of N.J. v.
Shoemaker Constr. Co., 657 F.Supp.2d 545, 552 (E.D. Pa.
2009); see Durantv. Husband, 28 F.3d 12, 15 (3d Cir.
1994) ("If it is necessary 'to determine the amount
of damages or to establish the truth of any averment by
evidence,' the court may conduct a
hearing.") (emphasis added) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(b)(2)). The Court did not conduct a hearing in this case
because one was not required or helpful to the Court's
discharge of its obligations.
judgments are generally disfavored. See Farnese v.
Bagnasco, 687 F.2d 761, 764 (3d Cir. 1982). Indeed, the
default judgment context usually offers none of the
adversarial argument upon which the American legal system is
founded and which remains a pillar of courts' ability to
make informed and well-reasoned decisions. Thus, under
Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154 (3d Cir.
2000), the district court must examine three additional
factors to determine whether it should grant a default
judgment: "(1) prejudice to the plaintiff if default is
denied, (2) whether the defendant appears to have a litigable
defense, and (3) whether defendant's delay is due to
culpable conduct." Id. at 164.
alleges that Mr. Brickhouse violated four of its copyrighted
works. A claim for copyright infringement requires that the
plaintiff prove: "(1) ownership of a valid copyright;
and (2) unauthorized copying of original elements of the
plaintiffs work." See Dun & Bradstreet Software
Servs., Inc. v. Grace Consulting, Inc., 307 F.3d 197,
206 (3d Cir. 2002). Infringement is considered willful if,
for example, the defendant fails to respond and default is
entered or the defendant used BitTorrent protocol to gain
access to a work for free that otherwise would have required
payment. See Malibu Media, LLC v. Flanagan, No.
13-5890, 2014 WL 2957701, at *2 n.4 (E.D. Pa. Jul. 1, 2014).
Brickhouse allegedly illegally downloaded Malibu's files
through a BitTorrent file distribution network. Another court
in this District has described the BitTorrent protocol as
[T]he BitTorrent software works automatically, joining
together multiple internet subscribers (the
"swarm") who are seeking to download the same movie
at the same time. These individuals do not know each other.
The software sends different "bits" of the same
movie to different users and when the overall download is
completed, each internet subscriber who has logged on to the