EBook.Bike Copyright Case Heading Towards Trial, Default Set Aside

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Travis McCrea, the operator of controversial eBook download platform eBook.bike, appears set for his day in court. A motion for default judgment against McCrea filed by author John Van Stry has been set aside but the former Pirate Party leader's own motion to dismiss, based on claims of deficient DMCA notices being served on him, has been rejected.

During March, US-based author John Van Stry filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Travis McCrea, the operator of controversial eBook download platform eBook.bike.

McCrea initially opted not to become involved in the US lawsuit and in June, Van Stry’s lawyers filed for a default judgment in a Texas court.

In common with most copyright cases, this one isn’t straightforward and seems to have been complicated by McCrea’s early non-participation. However, the former Pirate Party of Canada leader eventually had a change of heart. He recently asked the Court to consider accepting late motions to vacate the default, dismiss the case, and/or change the venue.

Following a recent telephone conference, Judge William Bryson issued an order in response to those requests.

In respect of Van Stry’s motion for default (which had the potential to put McCrea on the hook for around $150,000 in statutory damages), that has now been vacated, meaning that McCrea will be able to fight his corner.

On the question of venue and personal jurisdiction (McCrea resides in Canada), the eBook.bike operator wasn’t so lucky. In his order, the Judge concluded that in a copyright infringement case like this, Van Stry’s location is the deciding factor, since that’s where the alleged injury was caused.

“Based on the evidence before the Court, the location of the copyright holder is his current residence within the Eastern District of Texas. Therefore, with respect to personal jurisdiction and venue, the Court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant, and venue is proper in the Eastern District of Texas,” the order reads.

As reported previously, McCrea asked the Court to dismiss the entire case, based on his assertion that the DMCA takedown notices filed with eBook.bike by Van Stry were deficient. Among other things, McCrea argued, precise URLs for the allegedly-infringing content were not provided.

In another setback, the Judge denied McCrea’s motion to dismiss, “holding that the complaint, which alleges proper notification of claimed infringement under 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3) and other facts challenging the applicability of the DMCA safe harbor, is sufficient to state a claim for copyright infringement at the pleading stage.”

A control order is now on the docket, indicating – among other things – that jury selection for the trial will take place during June 2020. Whether the parties will agree to settle in the meantime is open to question but as costs continue to mount (both McCrea and Van Stry have complained about cash shortages recently), that might be the sensible outcome.

Not least since eBook.bike has been down for weeks and is showing no signs of returning.

The related court orders can be found here and here (pdf)


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