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Full Recovery: Successful Copyright Plaintiffs Can Recover Fees For Enforcing Judgments

Successful copyright plaintiffs can recover the additional attorney’s fees incurred in collecting an infringement judgment according to a federal court in New York.

The judgment creditor plaintiff, L.A. Printex Industries, Inc., won a verdict of $40,000 in statutory damages against the defendants in 2012, with the court subsequently awarding it $40,000 in attorney’s fees. The defendants refused to pay the judgment and initially refused to respond to post-judgment discovery. After payment of the judgment, the plaintiff moved for an award of additional attorney’s fees. Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the attorney’s fees provision of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. ¬ß 505, gave the court discretion to ‚”allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party . . . ” (emphasis in original). She went on to write that the fees L.A. Printex “has paid to secure its judgment are no doubt part of its ‚’full costs’ of prosecuting this action . . . . Moreover, permitting a defendant to force a prevailing plaintiff to spend thousands of dollars to collect that which is rightfully theirs would be manifestly unfair and inequitable.‚”

There are very few reported cases regarding awards of attorney’s fees for collecting on copyright infringement judgment. The Ninth Circuit has ruled that attorney’s fees can be collected for infringement award entered in federal courts in California because California state law provides for the recovery of fees for the enforcement of judgments. Carnes v. Zamani, 488 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2007). There are no reported decisions in the Second Circuit since the Supreme Court emphasized the availability of attorney’s fees awards in Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517 (1994).

This case is L.A. Printex Industries, Inc. v. Pretty Girl of California, Inc., Case No. 1:09-cv-4206 (SDNY). Michael D. Steger of the Law Offices of Michael D. Steger, PC represented L.A. Printex in its post-judgment actions to enforce the judgment. Stephen Doniger of Doniger/Burroughs APC ¬†represented L.A. Printex at trial.


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