TV station lawyers say copying words from the copyright act isn't good enough.
YOUNGSTOWN -- It's important to know why you're being sued.
Lawyers representing WFMJ TV-21 and two of its employees say the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Catherine Bosley, former morning TV personality, and her husband, Richard Brown, is vague. Bosley resigned from WKBN TV-27 about a year ago after images of her dancing naked in a Florida bar in March 2003 circulated on videos and the Internet.
The Bosley-Brown federal lawsuit, filed Dec. 23, 2004, also names Andrews Cycles Inc. in Canfield, its owner, Russell Haehn, 100 unidentified companies, 50 John Does and 50 Jane Does as defendants. It alleges the defendants engaged in and benefited from the widespread malicious practice of "illegally editing, reproducing, copying, distributing and/or selling copyrighted work" owned by Bosley (also known as Balsley) and Brown.
Lack of facts
WFMJ's Cleveland attorneys, David L. Marburger and Aaron J. Rupert, recently filed a motion in U.S. District Court asking that the Bosley-Brown lawsuit be dismissed because it doesn't contain any facts to support their claims. The lawsuit merely parrots the words of the statutes under which the plaintiffs claim to have rights, Marburger and Rupert said.
If the lawsuit is not dismissed, then WFMJ's lawyers want U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin in Akron federal court to order that a more definitive statement be filed. Bosley and Brown are represented by Cleveland attorney Andrew A. Kabat.
"Bosley's generic statements could mean anything from selling knock-off copies of the videotape in question to viewing an image from the videotape and showing it to a co-worker," WFMJ's lawyers said in their motion. "The allegations merely recite black letter legal descriptions of asserted causes of action."
Bosley and Brown must say what WFMJ and each of the other defendants did -- "merely copying the words from the copyright act or a copyright hornbook [primer] is insufficient," the motion states. The motion also points out that there is no apparent relationship between many of the named defendants, such as WFMJ and Haehn. Haehn has expressed bewilderment at being named in the lawsuit.
"Did WFMJ [reporter Michelle] Nicks, Andrews Cycles Inc. and the other named parties engage in joint activities or different activities, at different times or at the same time," the motion asks. "Did each defendant allegedly infringe all of the same copyrights? Furthermore, did the alleged infringement occur before or after the dates of the copyright registrations?"
WFMJ's lawyers say that, while Bosley and Brown don't have to describe the alleged activities in detail, they have a minimum duty to describe which acts of which defendant allegedly violated which of their asserted rights.
Without bona fide factual allegations, WFMJ would be forced to submit a similarly vague answer, the TV station's lawyers said.
Bosley is now part of the morning team at WYFM Radio 102.9.
If her lawsuit prevails, she wants hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for copyright infringement and thousands more in punitive damages.