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Monsarrat v. Zaiger

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 30, 2018

JONATHAN MONSARRAT, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN ZAIGER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PATTI B. SARIS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Jonathan Monsarrat asks the Court to reconsider its December 21, 2017, order (Dkt. No. 79) allowing Defendant Brian Zaiger's motion to dismiss. The order ruled that Monsarrat's claim of copyright infringement was time-barred under 17 U.S.C. § 507(b) because Monsarrat knew of the conduct in question more than three years before he filed his lawsuit. For the reasons that follow, Monsarrat's motion to reconsider (Dkt. No. 98) is DENIED.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes familiarity with the facts in its prior opinion, Monsarrat v. Zaiger, No. 17-10356-PBS, 2017 WL 6544824 (D. Mass. Dec. 21, 2017). In short, Monsarrat's copyright infringement claim centered on a digitally altered photograph. The original photograph, taken in connection with MIT's June 2000 graduation, depicted Monsarrat in an MIT mascot costume alongside two young girls. The altered photograph changed the letters "MIT" on the mascot's T-shirt to "PDB, " and changed the mascot from a beaver into a bear. Monsarrat alleged these changes were made to associate him with "Pedobear, " an Internet meme of a pedophilic bear. He also alleged that, in 2008, Zaiger, under the username "Mantequilla, " posted the altered photograph to the website Encyclopedia Dramatica, which Zaiger owned and administered.

         Monsarrat registered a copyright for the original photograph in 2011 and, around the same time, served Encyclopedia Dramatica's registered agent with a takedown notice. The page was taken down in October 2011, only to resurface in 2012. Subsequent takedown notices were unavailing.

         Plaintiff filed his lawsuit in March 2017. About a month later, "Mantequilla" took down the Encyclopedia Dramatica page about Monsarrat and later removed the altered photograph.

         In December 2017, the Court allowed Zaiger's motion to dismiss, ruling that the three-year statute of limitations in the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 507(b), barred Monsarrat's claim. Zaiger's counterclaim under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f) remained in the case. Judgment has not entered on that counterclaim.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         Monsarrat brings his motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b), [1]which invokes a court's inherent power to provide relief from interlocutory decisions "as justice requires." See Greene v. Union Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Am., 764 F.2d 19, 22-23 (1st Cir. 1985) (Breyer, J.) (comparing "interests of justice" standard for reconsideration of interlocutory orders with the "fairly heavy burden" for reconsideration of final orders under Rule 60(b)). Generally, a court will not allow a motion to reconsider an interlocutory order unless a movant can demonstrate (1) an intervening change in the law, (2) the discovery of new evidence not previously available, or (3) a clear error of law in the first order.[2] See Davis v. Lehane, 89 F.Supp.2d 142, 147 (D. Mass. 2000).

         II. Analysis

         Monsarrat mainly argues that the Court misapplied the so-called discovery rule in determining that his claim was time-barred.

         The discovery rule provides that a copyright infringement claim "accrues only when a plaintiff knows or has sufficient reason to know of the conduct upon which the claim is grounded." Warren Freedenfeld Assocs., Inc. v. McTigue, 531 F.3d 38, 44 (1st Cir. 2008) (emphasis added). Here, an attachment to Monsarrat's Amended Complaint shows the allegedly infringing photograph posted on Encyclopedia Dramatica on May 11, 2013. Because this exhibit makes clear that Monsarrat knew of the alleged infringement more ...


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