In a decisive victory for defendants beleaguered by baseless copyright infringement claims, U.S. District Court Judge Pauley ruled last week that Plaintiffs Ralph Vargas and Bland- Ricky Roberts must pay Defendants BT and East West Communications $175,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. The fee award follows the Court's decision last year granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiffs’ case in its entirety.
The Court held that Plaintiffs' infringement claims consistently lacked evidentiary support, and therefore were objectively unreasonable. An award of attorneys' fees and costs was appropriate under 17 U.S.C. § 505 because such objectively unreasonable claims thwart the purposes of the Copyright Act, and fee awards are necessary to compensate defendants who defend their right to free expression and to deter other plaintiffs from bringing similarly unreasonable actions. The Court's award of $175,000 will ensure that Plaintiffs disgorge any benefits they obtained through the litigation and penalizes them for pursuing bogus claims.
This is a great result for our client, BT, who was hounded by Plaintiffs' false claims of infringement for several years before the case was dismissed at the summary judgment stage. The fee award sends a message to those who make baseless copyright infringement claims: not only will their claims be dismissed on the merits, they will be on the hook for the attorneys' fees and costs defendants incur defeating them.
A copy of the decision is attached.