Thursday, September 28, 2006

Can a Minor Be Sued For Infringement?

Now that Judge Wilson has ruled against Morpheus (more on this tomorrow after I digest the 60 page opinion), will content owners increase suits against individuals, maybe even minors, and if they do, can a minor be sued for infringement? Warner Bros. Inc. v. Souther, 2006 WL 1549689 (June 1, 2006) addressed this issue in passing. Defendant grandmother apparently claimed that her grandson may have been the one responsible for the alleged downloading of over 1,ooo songs and that because he may have done it, she wasn't liable. She further argued that he couldn't be sued either because he was a minor. The court replied:

"Defendant has also raised an issue as to whether a minor may be sued in federal court. This may answered by quick reference to Rule 17(b), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides, as follows: The capacity of an individual, other than one acting in a representative capacity, to sue or be sued shall be determined by the law of the individual's domicile.Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b). In North Carolina, “infants” may be sued, but must be defended by a guardian ad litem. N.C.R.Civ.P. 17(b)(2)."

6 comments:

John Noble said...

I would imagne that every state allows minors to sue and be sued by or through a "next friend."

But what about the capacity to contract. Can a minor's legal guardian rescind a work-for-hire agreement, for example. What about a click-wrap license? Does federal law preempt? Is there a federal common law? Should there be for the sake of uniformity?

John Noble

William Patry said...

John:
Nice to see a posting by you. The Frankie Lymon case over "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" in the Second Circuit is the most prominent case I can think of off the top of tmy head.
Bill

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