Appeals court reverses Amazon TM ruling
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Amazon will face a lawsuit claiming it offered films including “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” for streaming illegally, a New York federal judge has ruled.
The lawsuit, filed by German businessman Ralf Hartmann, alleges that Amazon made four films available on the Prime Video platform without a licence.
Hartmann claims he was assigned the copyright for the films in 2008 from Capella International, one of the production companies behind the movies, which also include “Drop Dead Gorgeous”, “Commander Hamilton”, and “After the Rain”.
Amazon moved to dismiss the claims, partly on the basis that Hartmann hadn’t proven he was the owner of the copyright registrations for the films. Hartmann’s complaint doesn’t directly cite registrations with the US Copyright Office but rather a series of contracts showing the rights for the films were transferred to his ownership.
The US District Court for the Southern District of New York has allowed part of the complain to proceed. District Judge Paul Engelmayer wrote: “Although the attached exhibits do not dispositively prove that Hartmann owns the copyrights to the films, there was no requirement that the complaint do so to survive a motion to dismiss. It is enough that the complaint alleges ‘that plaintiff owns the copyrights in those work’ and ‘that the copyrights have been registered in accordance with the statute’.”
Although Hartmann’s claim of direct copyright infringement will move forward, the court threw out three other counts of foreign contributory infringement, vicarious infringement, and foreign infringement. Those claims relate to the distribution of the films in foreign markets, and by subsidiary Amazon Digital.
Engelmayer found that the foreign infringement claims were “far too vague” to meet the legal standard, and that Hartmann hadn’t identified any specific acts of infringement in foreign markets.
In the case of Amazon Digital, the judge ruled that Hartmann’s claim didn’t establish how Amazon controlled the company. “[The complaint] does not allege how Amazon controlled the subsidiary entity ‘Amazon Digital’ or the means by which Amazon derived profit from it. It relies solely on the fact of Amazon Digital’s subsidiary status,” Engelmayer wrote.
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Amazon, Austin Powers, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Ralf Hartmann, Capella International, Prime Video, copyright infringement, streaming