United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
RICHARD N. BELL, Plaintiff,
JOAN MATTOX Default Entered 8/13/2018, Defendant.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
cause is before the Court on Plaintiff's First Motion for
Default Judgment [Dkt. 10], filed on August 22, 2018.
Plaintiff Richard N. Bell filed his complaint asserting one
count of copyright infringement against Defendant Joan
Maddox. Ms. Maddox has not filed an answer or other
responsive pleading nor defended this action in any way. A
Clerk's default was entered against Ms. Maddox on August
13, 2018 [Dkt. 9]. Mr. Bell now seeks a final default
judgment against Ms. Mattox for $150, 000.00 in statutory
damages plus $407.92 in costs as well as injunctive and
declaratory relief. For the reasons detailed below, we
GRANT Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment
and award damages in a lesser amount than prayed for.
is one in a long series of cases brought by Plaintiff about
which the underlying facts are essentially identical. In
March 2000, Mr. Bell, an attorney and photographer, took a
photograph of the Indianapolis, Indiana, skyline (“the
Indianapolis Photo”). The Indianapolis Photo was
registered on August 4, 2011 with the United States Copyright
Office. Mr. Bell has used the Indianapolis photograph in
advertising to promote his photography business and has made
the photograph available for commercial use on his personal
website at the cost of a $200 license fee. In this lawsuit,
Mr. Bell alleges that Ms. Mattox willfully and deliberately
downloaded or took the Indianapolis Photo from the internet
without his permission and without paying the licensing fee.
April 5, 2018, Mr. Bell discovered that Ms. Mattox had
published the Indianapolis Photo on her website,
http://www.readymadestaffing.com, which he claims violated
his exclusive rights as the copyright owner. Ms. Mattox began
publishing the Indianapolis Photo on her website as early as
December 2015, permitting third parties to access the site
and copy the photograph to their computers, and has continued
to display the copyrighted photograph on her website
apparently through the present day. See Ready Made
Resources, http://www.readymadestaffing.com (last visited
February 11, 2019). Ms. Mattox's website does not
disclose the source of the Indianapolis Photo or otherwise
credit Mr. Bell. Rather, at the bottom of the page, the
website states: “Copyright 2012 - Ready Made Resources,
” falsely representing that Ms. Mattox owns the
copyright of all content, images, and photographs on the
to Mr. Bell, Ms. Mattox refuses to pay the licensing fee for
the Indianapolis Photo and has not agreed to be enjoined from
displaying it on her website. Mr. Bell alleges that Ms.
Mattox's copyright infringement was and is willful.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 governs the entry of default and
default judgment. An entry of default may be entered against
a party who has failed to plead or otherwise defend herself.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Once the clerk enters default, it is
within the court's discretion whether to enter a default
judgment. See O'Brien v. R.J. O'Brien &
Assocs., Inc., 998 F.2d 1394, 1398 (7th Cir. 1993).
“A default judgment establishes, as a matter of law,
that [a] defendant [is] liable to plaintiff on each cause
of action alleged in the complaint. Wehrs v. Wells,
688 F.3d 886, 892 (7th Cir. 2012). “Upon default, the
well-pled allegations of the complaint relating to liability
are taken as true, but those relating to the amount of
damages suffered ordinarily are not.” Id.
(citation omitted). Accordingly, “[d]amages must be
proved unless they are liquidated or capable of
calculation.” Merrill Lynch Mortg. Corp. v.
Narayan, 908 F.2d 246, 253 (7th Cir. 1990).
establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must prove:
“(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of
constituent elements of the work that are original.”
Design Basics, LLC v. Lexington Homes, Inc., 858
F.3d 1093, 1099 (7th Cir. 2017), reh'g and reh'g
en banc denied (July 10, 2017) (quotation marks and
citation omitted). Here, Mr. Bell's complaint alleges
that he is the sole owner of a registered copyright in the
Indianapolis Photo; that Ms. Mattox downloaded or otherwise
took the photograph from the Internet and published the
photograph on her website without permission and without
paying for it; that Ms. Mattox falsely indicated that she
owned the copyright to all content on her website; and that
Ms. Mattox's conduct violated Mr. Bell's exclusive
rights as owner of the copyright. These allegations are
sufficient to establish Ms. Mattox's liability for
copyright owner suing for infringement “may elect . . .
to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award
of statutory damages . . . .” 17 U.S.C. §
504(c)(1). Such damages may be “in a sum of not less
than $750 or more than $30, 000 as the court considers
just.” Id. But “[i]n a case where the
copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court
finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court
in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages
to a sum of not more than $150, 000.” Id.
defendant commits willful infringement . . . if the defendant
had ‘knowledge that [her] actions constituted an
infringement,' which may be constructive knowledge
inferred from the defendant's conduct.”
Microsoft Corp. v. Ram Distrib., LLC, 625 F.Supp.2d
674, 682 (E.D. Wis. 2008) (quoting Knitwaves, Inc. v.
Lollytogs Ltd., 71 F.3d 996, 1010 (2d Cir. 1995)).
“A plaintiff can prove willfulness by offering
circumstantial evidence giving rise to an inference of
willful conduct by the defendant, even if there is no
evidence establishing [her] actual knowledge.”
Id. (quoting Island Software & Comput.
Serv., Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 413 F.3d 257, 264 (2d
we find that Mr. Bell's complaint alleges sufficient
facts to fall within the definition of willfulness. By
placing the statement “Copyright 2012 - Ready Made
Resources” at the bottom of the website that included
the Indianapolis Photo, Ms. Mattox represented that she
possessed the copyright for all content found on the website,
including the Indianapolis Photo. She would have known that
representation was false when she made it. This deliberate
action by Ms. Mattox of placing such common copyright
language on the bottom of her website plainly asserts that
she possessed the rights to Mr. Bell's ...