Lex Machina has released
a report highlighting trends and insights from copyright
cases filed in US district courts from January 1 2009 to
June 30 this year (register online to download the whole report
The report reveals copyright
litigation is a concentrated business. The Central District of
California’s 2,496 cases since 2009 give it a
26.2% share, while the Southern District of New
York’s 1,061 cases give it an 11.1% share. No
other district had more than 1,000 cases filed since 2009.
Top plaintiffs include the music
industry, publishing, software and fashion. The top plaintiff
is Broadcast Music, which has filed 968 cases since 2009. It is
followed by Sony/ATV Song with 528 cases, Warner-Tamerlane
Publishing with 401 cases, Songs of Universal with 374 cases,
and EMI Blackwood with 327 cases.
defendants include retailers, recorded music publishers and
book publishers. The top defendant is Ross Stores with 181
cases. It is followed by The TJX Companies with 98 cases,
Universal Music with 57 cases, Amazon.com with 55 cases, and
Burlington Coat Factory with 54 cases.
leading law firm for plaintiffs is Doniger/Burroughs. The
California fashion, art and entertainment
boutique’s 741 cases are more than double the next
firm. Its clients include LA Printex Industries, Star Fabrics,
United Fabrics International and Unicolors.
In second place is another
California firm, The J Andrews Coombs Law Offices, with 305
cases. It represents Disney, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century
Fox and DC Comics.
Call & Jensen represented
defendants in the most cases, with 142.
Breaking down the stats
The report underlines that fair
use is usually decided on summary judgment. Some 72.9% of those
who successfully contest ownership or validity do so at summary
The median time to a temporary
restraining order is eight days, to a preliminary injunction is
1.2 months, and to a permanent injunction is 7.5 months. Median
time to trial is 2.1 years.
Of the cases since 2009, 2.8%
ended in claim defendant win, 22.3% ended in a claimant win,
64.1% in likely settlement, and 10.8% procedural.
This means, of the 14,669 cases
terminated since 2009 only 25% have reached a merits decision.
Of those, less than half generated a damages award,
representing 11.1% of the cases filed. The $495 million of
consent judgments represent 40.8% of damages for copyright
cases and the $476 million of default judgments represents
39.2%. Juries have awarded $14 million of damages compared with
judges awarding $97 million.
The Northern District of
California has the highest median award of compensatory damages
among district with a high number of cases, at $200,000
The statistics in this blog post
so far do not include file sharing cases, defined as copyright
cases involving claims of infringement for Bit Torrent/P2P file
sharing brought against John Doe(s), anonymous defendants,
their IP addresses or internet service providers. An explosion
in file sharing cases has occurred since 2011. Last year, the
number of file sharing cases outnumbered other copyright
Erotic website owner Malibu
Media is the top plaintiff for file sharing litigation, with
4,332 cases. This is more than 15 times higher than the next
most litigious plaintiff.
You can download the report by