Movie Studios Weigh in on Preliminary Injunction Bond Issue in PrimeWire Pirating Case

After a Los Angeles, California court issued a tentative ruling stating it was inclined to grant a half-dozen studios’ request for a preliminary injunction in a pirating case, the studios submitted the supplemental briefing on whether court rules require the court to order a bond to compensate defendant PrimeWire in the event that the injunction is unwarranted.

The case concerns the movie studios’ efforts to curb the allegedly illegal pirating activities of  the online television and video content streaming site PrimeWire. The complaint, which named only Doe defendants, stated claims for copyright infringement. It argued that PrimeWire’s service erodes the market for the licensed distribution of original content and ultimately affords the defendants unearned revenue through the placement of advertisements on their sites.

In conjunction with their complaint, the movie studios, including Paramount Pictures Corporation, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. and Netflix Studios LLC, filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. In a minute order and after a hearing, Judge Mark C. Scarsi stated the court’s “tentative views that it is inclined to grant Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction re: Copyright Infringement” and asked for briefing on the bond issue.

In this week’s motion, the plaintiffs said that the bond decision falls within the court’s discretion, but in this case, it is unnecessary. Though Rule 65(c) seemingly mandates a bond as a precondition to a preliminary injunction, the Ninth Circuit has held that district court’s are vested with the flexibility to decide both whether to impose or not and how much a movant is required to post.

In this case, the plaintiffs said that their likelihood of success on the merits of their copyright claims weighs against a bond. In addition, the movie studios argued that the only harm that the PrimeWire defendants will suffer is that they will be unable to continue profiting from infringing the plaintiffs’ copyrights.

As such, the plaintiffs requested that Judge Scarsi order that no bond is required. Alternatively, the plaintiffs asked that if a bond is required, the court set it at a minimal amount, like $50,000. In support of this point, the brief pointed out that though the defendants have not appeared in the case, their “limited communications have said the revenue they earn from the PrimeWire service is low.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.