United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
BROADCAST MUSIC, INC., ET AL.
COCO BONGO INC., ET AL.
A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment
(Doc. 16). Oral argument is not required. For the following
reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs are a "performing
rights society" that licenses the right to perform
approximately 14 million copyrighted musical compositions on
behalf of the copyright owners. (Doc. 16-1 at pp. 1-2).
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants failed to obtain licenses
for the music used for live and recorded performances after
numerous requests to do so. (Id. at p. 2).
Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendants requesting an
injunction, statutory damages, costs, and reasonable
attorney's fees. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs identified six
individual works which they claim that Defendants publicly
performed without a license. Plaintiffs also filed an Amended
Complaint. (Doc. 4). Defendants failed to respond to either
of Plaintiffs' Complaints. Plaintiffs were granted a
Clerk's entry of default. (Doc. 14). Now, Plaintiffs move
for default judgment against Defendants. (Doc. 16).
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has
adopted a three-step process to obtain a default judgment.
See New York Life Ins. Co. v. Brown, 84 F.3d 137,
141 (5th Cir. 1996). First, a default occurs when a party
"has failed to plead or otherwise defend" against
an action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Next, an entry of default must
be entered by the clerk when the default is shown "by
affidavit or otherwise." New York Life, 84 F.3d
at 141. Third, a party may apply to the court for a default
judgment after an entry of default. Id.; Fed. R.
Civ. P. 55(b).
party files for a default judgment, courts must apply a
two-part process to determine whether a default judgment
should be entered. First, a court must consider whether the
entry of default judgment is appropriate under the
circumstances. Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886,
893 (5th Cir. 1998). Several factors are relevant to this
inquiry, including: (1) whether there are material issues of
fact at issue, (2) whether there has been substantial
prejudice, (3) whether the grounds for default have been
clearly established, (4) whether the default was caused by
excusable neglect or good faith mistake, (5) the harshness of
the default judgment, and (6) whether the court would think
itself obliged to set aside the default on a motion by
the Court must assess the merits of the plaintiffs claims and
determine whether the plaintiff has a claim for relief.
Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank,
515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975); Hamdan v. Tiger
Bros. Food Mart, Inc., 2016 WL 1192679, at *2 (M.D. La.
Mar. 22, 2016).
Default Judgment is Appropriate Under the Lindsey
Court must first decide whether the entry of default judgment
is appropriate under the circumstances by considering the
Lindsey factors. First, there are no material facts
in dispute because Defendants failed to respond to
Plaintiffs' Complaints. Second, it is undisputed that
Defendants have not responded to Plaintiffs' filings.
Third, the grounds for granting a default judgment against
Defendants are clearly established, as evidenced by the
action's procedural history and the Clerk's entry of
default. Fourth, the Court has no basis to find that
Defendants' failure to respond was the result of a good
faith mistake or excusable neglect because Defendants have
not challenged the entry of default or the instant motion.
Fifth, Defendants' failure to file any responsive
pleading or motion mitigates the harshness of a default
judgment. Finally, the Court is not aware of any facts that
would lead it to set aside the default judgment if challenged
by Defendants. The Court therefore finds that the six
Lindsey factors weigh in favor of default.
The Sufficiency of the Pleadings
Court must also determine whether Plaintiffs' pleadings
provide a sufficient basis for a default judgement.
Plaintiffs sued Defendants for copyright infringement under
the Copyright Act. To prevail on a copyright infringement
claim, a plaintiff must establish: 1) ownership of a valid
copyright, 2) unauthorized copying, and 3) substantial
similarity to the copyrighted work. Peel & Co. v. The
Rug Mkt., 238 F.3d 391, 394 (5th Cir. 2001).
Plaintiffs allege that they have been granted the right to
license the rights in 14 million musical compositions. (Doc.
1 at p. 2). Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants publicly
perform copyrighted music in Plaintiffs' repertoire
without previously having purchased the license to do so.
(Id. at p. 4). Therefore, Plaintiffs have
demonstrated a sufficient basis ...