Copyright Enforcement and the California Anti-SLAPP Law

Anti-SLAPP laws are typically associated with defamation lawsuits. So how can an Anti-SLAPP law help copyright owners who enforce their rights? An ongoing class action dispute against Warner Brothers and other defendants shows one way.

One of the claims in the class action suit against Warner Brothers and others arose from the defendants seeking subpoenas under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). A provision in the DMCA permits copyright owners to seek federal court subpoenas of ISPs in order to identify alleged copyright infringers. The defendants’ use of this process ultimately led to a claim against them for abuse of process.

In response, the defendants sought to dismiss the claim using California’s Anti-SLAPP law. The defendants argued that petitioning courts for redress of copyright rights is protected activity under the California Anti-SLAPP law. The defendants further argued that the plaintiffs could not establish a probability of success on the merits, as required under the law. A U.S. District Court agreed and recently dismissed the abuse of process claim.

Ward & Ward’s attorneys have substantial experience with Anti-SLAPP litigation, pre-publication screening and review for media and non-profit clients, negotiating licensing agreements on behalf of rights holders, and protecting the intellectual property rights of our clients. If you would like to discuss any such matters, please contact us.

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