District Court Applies Copyright Act to United Kingdom Uploading of Pirated Japanese Anime Videos to U.S. YouTube Severs

The World in U.S. Courts: Spring 2014 - Intellectual Property (Copyright)

Crunchyroll, Inc. v. Aria Adm, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, February 10, 2014

A creator and distributor of anime programs worldwide sued parties alleged to have uploaded copies of the programs to YouTube in violation of the U.S. Copyright Act. The defendants did not appear or respond, and in ruling on a motion to enter a default judgment the court independently discussed its jurisdiction over the claims and the parties.

As part of its analysis, the court considered the claims against one defendant who lived in the United Kingdom and who copied and uploaded more than 3,000 programs in the UK to YouTube servers in California, from which they were available for viewing worldwide. The court sought to determine whether those acts should be considered "extraterritorial," and therefore outside of the reach of the Copyright Act.

The court observed that the law was unsettled as to whether the Copyright Act only applied to conduct where at least one act of infringement occurred entirely within the U.S. It concluded that there was no such requirement, and that the UK defendant’s conduct therefore would be deemed to violate U.S. law. In so holding, the court appeared to consider the nature of the relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the U.S., noting that his actions resulted in the creation of a duplicate infringing copy of the 3,000 programs on the YouTube servers in California, and that the videos could be viewed by "potentially thousands" of Americans.

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