306 F.Supp.3d 413 (D.D.C. 2016), C. A. 14-cv-1271 (KBJ), Alliance of Artists & Recording Companies, Inc. v. General Motors Co.

Docket Nº:Civil Action No. 14-cv-1271 (KBJ)
Citation:306 F.Supp.3d 413
Opinion Judge:KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, United States District Judge
Party Name:ALLIANCE OF ARTISTS AND RECORDING COMPANIES, INC., Plaintiff, v. GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY, et al., Defendants.
Attorney:Richard Brian Dagen, Daniel K. Oakes, Morris A. Bloom, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, Washington, DC, Russell Mark Steinthal, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, New York, NY, for Plaintiff. Annette L. Hurst, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Amy E. Hayden, Andrew Phillip Bridges, David Lloyd Haye...
Case Date:August 22, 2016
Court:United States District Court, Federal Circuit
 
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Page 413

306 F.Supp.3d 413 (D.D.C. 2016)

ALLIANCE OF ARTISTS AND RECORDING COMPANIES, INC., Plaintiff,

v.

GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 14-cv-1271 (KBJ)

United States District Court, D. Columbia

August 22, 2016

Page 414

Richard Brian Dagen, Daniel K. Oakes, Morris A. Bloom, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, Washington, DC, Russell Mark Steinthal, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, New York, NY, for Plaintiff.

Annette L. Hurst, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Amy E. Hayden, Andrew Phillip Bridges, David Lloyd Hayes, Guinevere L. Jobson, Jedediah Wakefield, Fenwick & West LLP, San Francisco, CA, Diana Szego Fassbender, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, James Mitchell Burger, Thompson Coburn, LLP, Ellen S. Kennedy, Ryan Lee Ford, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Joshua Hersh Packman, Baker Botts, LLP, David D. Golden, Robert S. Schwartz, Seth David Greenstein, Constantine Cannon, LLP, Megan Sunkel Woodworth, Venable LLP, Washington, DC, Steven John Routh, Seattle, WA, Lauren Beth Emerson, Baker & Botts, L.L.P., New York, NY, Paul J. Reilly, Van H. Beckwith, Baker & Botts, L.L.P., Dallas, TX, Armen Nercess Nercessian, Fenwick & West, LLP, Mountain View, CA, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION AND CLARIFICATION

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, United States District Judge

On February 19, 2016, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order that addressed a threshold question of law regarding the applicability of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 ("AHRA"), 17 U.S.C. § § 1001-1010, to various in-car audio devices that Defendants manufacture and distribute. See All. of Artists & Recording Cos., Inc. v. Gen. Motors Co. ("AARC"), 162 F.Supp.3d 8 (D.D.C. 2016). The Court resolved a vigorous dispute over the proper interpretation of the AHRA, holding that devices such as Defendants’ can constitute "digital audio recording devices" ("DARDs") as the AHRA defines that term, see 17 U.S.C. § 1001(3), and thus that the devices at issue (as described in Plaintiff’s complaint) might well give rise to a statutory obligation on the part of Defendants to pay royalties to the AARC and implement certain copying control technology. See

AARC, 162 F.Supp.3d at 21-24. But the Court also

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concluded that these duties were triggered only if the devices did, in fact, produce "digital audio copied recordings" ("DACRs") that satisfy the statute’s definition of a "digital music recording" ("DMR," the statute’s term of art for a DARD’s input, see 17 U.S.C. § 1001(5) ), and that discovery would be required in order to ascertain whether any of the Defendant’s recording devices actually produced recordings that met the prescribed statutory elements of a DMR. See AARC, 162 F.Supp.3d at 17-22, 22-23. Thus, although the Court held that Plaintiff’s complaint stated a claim and Defendants’ dispositive Rule 12 motions had to be denied, it reached this conclusion on the basis of a significantly narrower reading of the statute than Plaintiff had urged. See id. at 21-23, 24.

Before this Court at present are two motions that the AARC has filed pertaining to the Court’s opinion. In the first of the two motions, the AARC implores the Court to reconsider the interpretation of the AHRA that the Court adopted, on the ground that the Court misunderstood the statute’s legislative history. (See Pl. AARC’s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Recons. ("Pl.’s Recons. Mem."), ECF No. 81-1, at 5-7.)1 The second motion seeks to have the Court clarify the extent of its holding as it relates to a certain type of device (a hard drive with partitioned segments), or, alternatively, certify for interlocutory review the case’s central conclusion about how the AHRA should be interpreted. (See Pl. AARC’s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Clarification ("Pl.’s Clarification Mem."), ECF No. 82-1, at 5-6.) Defendants oppose both motions (see generally Defs.’ Joint Mem. in Opp’n to Pl’s. Mots. ("Defs.’ Mem."), ECF No. 90), and this Court has now carefully considered the myriad arguments both parties have made with respect to the AARC’s requests. As explained below, this Court concludes that Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration must be DENIED because its interpretation of the relevant statutory history is unpersuasive and cannot, in any event, overcome the plain text of the statute. However, because this Court agrees with Plaintiff that its opinion is ambiguous with respect to whether or not a hard drive partition can constitute a DACR under the statute, the AARC’s motion for clarification is GRANTED, and the Court’s prior opinion is clarified herein, to dispel the contention that hard drive partitions are categorically precluded.

I. THE AARC’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

A. Applicable Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) governs the reconsideration of court orders that "do not constitute a final judgment in a case." See Pierce v. Dist. of Columbia, 146 F.Supp.3d 197, 198 (D.D.C. 2015) (citation omitted). Such relief "is available as justice requires, which amounts to determining, within the Court’s discretion, whether reconsideration is necessary under the relevant circumstances." Id. (quoting Prince George’s Hosp. Ctr. v. Advantage Healthplan Inc., 985 F.Supp.2d 38, 42 (D.D.C. 2013) ); see also Capitol Sprinkler Inspection, Inc. v. Guest Servs., Inc., 630 F.3d 217, 227 (D.C. Cir. 2011).

Generally, reconsideration is warranted "where the court has patently misunderstood the parties, made a decision beyond the adversarial issues presented, made an error in failing to consider controlling

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decisions or data, or a controlling or significant change in the law has occurred." Pierce, 146 F.Supp.3d at 198 (quoting Clayton v. Dist. of Columbia, 931 F.Supp.2d 192, 210 (D.D.C. 2013) ). Some courts have also...

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