Thursday, July 30, 2009

Court leaves decisions on infringement and willfulness to jury; grants Rule 50 motion on copyright ownership

Late today Judge Gertner issued the following ruling on the plaintiffs' motion for a directed verdict under Rule 50:
Judge Nancy Gertner: Electronic ORDER entered with respect to Rule 50 motion: The Court will make required findings concerning copyright ownership, but leave all remaining issues -- infringement (reproduction and distribution), damages and willfulness -- for the jury, out of an abundance of caution. The Court does so in part because the statutory damages inquiry obliges the jury to consider some of the same issues as the infringement inquiry, i.e. the nature of the infringement. (Gertner, Nancy)
In other words, the jury will still decide the basic issue of whether Tenenbaum infringed the plaintiffs' copyrights (which he admitted today under oath), and whether he infringed willfully, which means infringed "with knowledge of or 'reckless disregard' for the plaintiffs' copyrights." The jury will not have to decide copyright ownership (one of the two basic elements of an infringement claim); Tenenbaum doesn't dispute it.

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