UMG Recordings Inc. v. Kurbanov

In this copyright infringement case, the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

The plaintiffs are 12 record companies, all Delaware companies with principal places of business variously in New York, California, and Florida. The defendant is a Russian national living and working in Russia; he operates websites that “rip” audio files without authorization from streaming services. Last year, about 500,000 people in Virginia allegedly visited each website. Before 2018, the websites were hosted by servers in Virginia.

Still, the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant because of the lack of personal targeting of either Virginia or the United States. There’s no significant period of prolonged engagement between users and the sites that creates an ongoing relationship. Users don’t create an account, sign in, or register when they unilaterally interact with the free website. Thus, the defendant didn’t purposefully avail himself of benefits within Virginia’s or the United States’s jurisdiction, and personal jurisdiction would be unconstitutional.

Motion to dismiss granted.

UMG Recordings Inc. v. Kurbanov, No. 1:18cv957, Jan. 22, 2019. EDVA at Alexandria (Hilton).

Categories: Opinions, U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Virginia

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