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American Educ. Research Ass'n, Inc. v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

February 2, 2015

AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATION, INC. et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PUBLIC.RESOURCE.ORG, INC., Defendant

Page 543

For AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATION, INC., AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, INC., NATIONAL COUNCIL ON MEASUREMENT IN EDUCATION, INC., Plaintiffs, Counter Defendants: Kathleen Cooney--Porter, LEAD ATTORNEY, OBLON, MCCLELLAND, MAIER & NEUSTADT, LLP, Alexandria, VA; Jonathan Hudis, OBLON, MCCLELLAND, MAIER & NEUSTADT, LLP, Alexandria, VA.

For PUBLIC.RESOURCE.ORG, INC., Defendant: Andrew Phillip Bridges, LEAD ATTORNEY, FENWICK & WEST, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Mitchell L. Stoltz, LEAD ATTORNEY, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION, San Francisco, CA; Corynne McSherry, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION, San Francisco, CA; David Elliot Halperin, Washington, DC; Matthew B. Becker, FENWICK & WEST LLP, Mountain View, CA.

For PUBLIC.RESOURCE.ORG, INC., Counter Claimant: Andrew Phillip Bridges, LEAD ATTORNEY, FENWICK & WEST, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Mitchell L. Stoltz, LEAD ATTORNEY, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION, San Francisco, CA; Corynne McSherry, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION, San Francisco, CA; David Elliot Halperin, Washington, DC.

Page 544

MEMORANDUM OPINION

TANYA S. CHUTKAN, United States District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion to strike Defendant's jury demand. Because no party seeks damages and Defendant has not otherwise shown any grounds for its jury demand, the motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs American Educational Research Association, Inc., American Psychological Association, Inc., and National Council On Measurement In Education, Inc., brought this action for copyright infringement against Public.Resource.org, Inc. (" Public Resource" ). Plaintiffs are not-for-profit organizations that develop private-sector standards, including the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (the " Standards" ). Plaintiffs sell these standards to generate revenue. The Standards have been incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations and various state laws. Plaintiffs allege that the Standards are an original work protected from copyright infringement, and brought suit because Public Resource has posted the Standards on its website. Plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction enjoining Public Resource from posting their standards. Plaintiffs do not seek money damages in their Complaint.

Defendant Public Resource is a non-profit entity devoted to publicly disseminating legal information. According to Defendant, its " mission is to improve public access to government records and the law . . . To accomplish this mission, Public Resource acquires copies of . . . records, including legal decisions, tax filings, statutes, and regulations, and publishes them online in easily accessible formats that make them more useful to readers, entirely free of charge." (Def Answer ¶ ¶ 28, 30). Public Resource argues that because the Standards have been incorporated by reference into federal and state laws, it is entitled to publish them as public materials. Public Resource filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment that posting the Standards does not infringe Plaintiffs' copyrights, and included a jury demand in its counterclaim.

Plaintiffs have moved to strike this jury demand, arguing that because neither party seeks money damages, there is no basis for a jury demand. Plaintiffs further argue that as the copyright holders, they possess the right to demand a jury, and Public Resource cannot rely on a counterclaim for a declaratory judgment of noninfringement as a basis for a jury demand. Public Resource argues in response that it is entitled to a jury trial on its noninfringement counterclaim based on the fact that Plaintiffs could have requested a jury trial, had they asked for money damages. Public Resource argues that its counterclaim is a legal claim which creates a jury right, and further that its declaratory judgment counterclaim must be " inverted," meaning Public Resource is considered the plaintiff on that claim and can assert whatever jury rights Plaintiffs may have had - regardless of the fact that Plaintiffs have not made a jury demand. Public Resource further argues that because Plaintiffs in this case could have demanded money damages (even though they did not), this entitles Public Resource to a jury trial.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution declares that " [i]n suits at common law . . . the right of trial by jury shall be preserved . . . ." U.S. Const. amend. VII.

Page 545

The Amendment has been construed to preserve the right to jury trial as it existed in 1791. To determine whether a particular action is a suit " at common law," courts examine both the nature of the issues involved and the nature of the remedy sought. Specifically, the test for statutory actions involves two steps: (1) comparing the statutory action to 18th-century actions brought in the courts of England prior to the merger of the courts of law and equity to determine whether the claim is legal or equitable in nature, and (2) examining the remedy sought and determining whether it is legal or equitable in nature. Chauffeurs, Teamsters & Helpers, Local No. ...


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