A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Statutory Damages Awareded and Attorneys' Fees Denied in Copyright Action

In a July 30, 2013 ruling, Judge Paul G. Gardephe adopted in full the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Freeman awarding plaintiff Rami Shamir $5,000 in statutory copyright damages and denying plaintiff's attorneys' fees.  Shamir had sued a number of related defendants alleging that they had infringed the copyright in his novel "Train to Pokipse" by selling "advanced reading copies" of the book.  The defendants defaulted and largely refused to participate in the proceedings in any meaningful way.  Judge Freeman held an inquest, and in response to Shamir's request for $150,000 in statutory damages, awarded $5,000, noting that the case "'presents a situation of willful infringement, with modes profits to the infringers, at best, and no demonstrable, actual loss to Plaintiff.'"  Judge Freeman declined to award attorneys' fees because ""Plaintiff's unsworn, unauthenticated submission, and non-contemporaneous records, do not substantiate Plaintiff's requested award."  Judge Gardephe, applying a "clear error" standard, ruled that the $5,000 statutory damages award was proper, particularly in light of the defendants' profit of at most $1,200 for the infringing copies.  The Court likewise found the request for attorneys' fees to be insufficiently substantiated.
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