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Righthaven v. Eiser Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Righthaven v. Eiser Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

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Published by Eric Goldman

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Published by: Eric Goldman on Jan 14, 2012
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINACHARLESTON DIVISIONRighthaven LLC,))Case No. 2:10-cv-3075-RMG-JDA)Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant,))v.)
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
)
OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dana Eiser,)))Defendant and Counter-Plaintiff,)) ___________________________________)This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss, or alternatively strike,Defendant’s counterclaims filed by Plaintiff [Doc. 23]; a motion to dismiss for failure to statea claim filed by Defendant [Doc. 37]; a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction filed byDefendant [Doc. 60]; and a motion to dismiss the second amended answer andcounterclaims filed by Plaintiff [Doc. 78]. Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, UnitedStates Code, Section 636(b)(1), this magistrate judge is authorized to review pretrialmotions and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court in cases referredfor pretrial management.This is an action for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 501. The Courthas reviewed the complete record in this matter, including the pleadings, briefs, andexhibits submitted by the parties, as well as the applicable law. For the reasons givenbelow, the Court recommends Plaintiff’s first motion to dismiss [Doc. 23] be found as moot;Defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim [Doc. 37] be found as moot;
2:10-cv-03075-RMG Date Filed 01/13/12 Entry Number 93 Page 1 of 17
 
Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction [Doc. 60] be granted; and Plaintiff’ssecond motion to dismiss [Doc. 78] be found as moot.
PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On December 2, 2010, Plaintiff filed its complaint against Defendant, allegingcopyright infringement. [Doc. 1.] Defendant filed a pro se answer on January 18, 2011[Doc. 7] and subsequently retained counsel and filed an amended answer andcounterclaims on February 25, 2011 [Doc. 22]. On March 11, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motionto dismiss, or alternatively strike, Defendant’s counterclaims. [Doc. 23.] The HonorableRichard M. Gergel referred this action to the undersigned for pretrial management onMarch 25, 2011. [Doc. 24.]On April 7, 2011, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint [Doc. 36], and Defendant fileda motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on April 19, 2011 [Doc. 37]. Defendant fileda second amended answer and counterclaims on June 23, 2011 [Doc. 53] and a motion
1
to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on July 7, 2011 [Doc. 60]. On August 25, 2011, Plaintiff Because the second amended answer and counterclaims superseded the
1
amended answer and counterclaims to which Plaintiff filed its initial motion to dismiss, theCourt recommends finding as moot Plaintiff’s initial motion to dismiss [Doc. 23].
SeeYoung v. City of Mount Ranier 
, 238 F.3d 567, 573 (4th Cir. 2001) (stating that “anamended pleading ordinarily supersedes the original and renders it of no legal effect”(citation omitted));
Hall v. Int’l Union, United Auto., Aerospace & Agric. Implement Workersof Am., UAW 
, 2011 WL 4014315, at *1 (W.D.N.C. June 21, 2011) (citing
Colin v. Marconi Commerce Sys. Emps.’ Ret. Plan
, 335 F. Supp. 2d 590, 614 (M.D.N.C. 2004);
Turner v.Kight 
, 192 F. Supp. 2d 391, 397 (D. Md. 2002)) (denying as moot the defendants’ motionsto dismiss because the second amended complaint rendered moot the defendants’pending motions to dismiss, which were related to the superseded complaint);
McCoy v.City of Columbia
, 2010 WL 3447476, at *1–2 (D.S.C. Aug. 31, 2010) (adopting themagistrate judge’s report and recommendation to the extent it recommended that themotion to dismiss be found as moot because the amended complaint superseded theoriginal complaint and rendered any attack upon it moot).2
2:10-cv-03075-RMG Date Filed 01/13/12 Entry Number 93 Page 2 of 17
 
filed a motion to dismiss the second amended answer and counterclaims. [Doc. 78.] OnOctober 20, 2011, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause why the case should not bedismissed for Plaintiff’s lack of ownership of any exclusive rights in the copyright and,therefore, lack of standing to sue. [Doc. 81.] Plaintiff filed its response to the Order toShow Cause on October 31, 2011. [Doc. 84.] Additionally, responses in opposition,replies, and supplements have been filed on all pending motions [Docs. 28, 34, 41, 61, 62,64, 68, 72, 79, 86, 88], and the motions are ripe for review.
BACKGROUND
Defendant is, and was at all relevant times, the owner of the Internet domain foundat <lowcountry912.wordpress.com> (the “Domain”) [Doc. 36 ¶ 5]. On September 23, 2010,Defendant displayed an allegedly unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted literary workentitled “A Letter to the Tea Partyers” (the “Work”) as part of the content accessiblethrough the Domain (the Domain and content accessible through the Domain, collectivelyknown as the “Website”). [
Id.
¶ 12; Doc. 36-1 at 5–6.]Plaintiff asserts it is the owner of the copyright in and to the Work, which wasoriginally published on September 23, 2010 in The Denver Post. [Doc. 36 ¶¶ 9–10, 17–18;Doc. 36-1 at 2–3.] MediaNews Group Inc. (“MediaNews”), owner of The Denver Post, wasthe original owner of the Work. [Doc. 60 at 7;
see also
Doc. 36-1 at 19 (indicatingMediaNews is the author of the Work).] Plaintiff contends it obtained all rights, title, andownership in and to the Work, along with the right to sue for past, present, and futureinfringements, through a valid and enforceable assignment from the original owner of therights in and to the Work. [Doc. 36 ¶ 10.] Plaintiff applied for the copyright in and to the3
2:10-cv-03075-RMG Date Filed 01/13/12 Entry Number 93 Page 3 of 17

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