The ever increasing incidence of unauthorized uploading and downloading of copyrighted material on the internet has given rise to a very significant question, namely: ‘what court has jurisdiction over the offending parties?’ Stated in law school terms, if party A, in State B, enters an unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work onto the internet and party C, in State D, where the copyright owner resides, prints a copy of this material, can the copyright owner sue party A in State D?
In one recent case, Andy Stroud, Inc. v. Brown, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Court held that the downloading of copyrighted material in New York caused an injury to the plaintiff in New York. Thus, the copyright owner could sue party A in State D.
A month later, another decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. v. American Buddha, held that jurisdiction in New York, under virtually the same circumstances, would be unfair to defendants, as, under the Brown theory, a nationwide corporate copyright owner would be able to sue anywhere. This court found that the injury occurred where the copyrighted material was uploaded onto the internet. Thus, the copyright owner could only sue party A in State B, NOT in State D.
Yes, indeed, folks – two judges in the same court, in the same state, rendered diametrically different decisions on the same issue only a month apart.
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Lack of predictability, as exemplified by the above, is the chief reason the wise litigants SETTLE cases.