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Adeyinka v. Demosend

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

February 14, 2019

DEMOSEND, et al., Defendants.


         The plaintiff, Emmanuel Adeyinka (“Adeyinka”), has filed a Complaint and Request for Injunction (Doc. 1), alleging copyright infringement by several defendants. This case has been referred for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) (Doc. 7). Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. At the court's request, Adeyinka has filed a More Definite Statement of his Claims (Doc. 15). He has also filed two duplicate pleadings entitled “Motion For Relief” (Docs. 24 and 25), and another entitled “Motion of Content” (Doc. 26). In addition, Adeyinka has filed a “Writ of Objection” to the court's previous order entered on November 20, 2018, granting him leave to proceed in forma pauperis and directing him to pay the filing fee by making monthly installments (Doc. 23).

         Because Adeyinka proceeds in forma pauperis, the court is required to screen the pleadings and dismiss the complaint, in whole or in part, if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b). After considering all of the pleadings and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that Adeyinka's motions be denied, that his objection be overruled, and that this case be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Adeyinka is a resident of Houston, Texas, who has filed this lawsuit for copyright infringement by the following defendants: (1) Demosend; (2) Tunecore; (3) Decca Records/Universal Music Group; (4) Patrick Zelnik; (5) Gilles Paires; (6) Eric Tony; (7) United States Senator John Cornyn; and (8) United States Senator Ted Cruz (Doc. 1, at 1, 3-4). Adeyinka also lists Believe Distribution Services and Naïve Records as defendants, although he makes no substantive allegations against these entities (Id. at 3).[1]

         Adeyinka's primary claims of copyright infringement are against Tunecore and Demosend, which are digital music distributors. Adeyinka alleges that, in 2012, he “sign[ed] up” with TuneCore for digital distribution of a musical recording identified as “Hip-hop Knocking at My door, ” which Adeyinka created under the pseudonym Vers Convelly (Doc. 15, at 1). Adeyinka explains that he signed up to distribute his musical recordings in this manner to generate “digital radio plays” that would earn royalties (Id.). Adeyinka also paid three other companies that are not defendants here (identified as “GET RADIO PLAY, ” “register my music, ” and “CAPACITY PRODUCTION”) to register his music and play this song on the radio (Doc. 15, at 1). Adeyinka cancelled his distribution agreement with TuneCore at some point in 2012, after a dispute over “collection and royalties” (Id.)

         In 2016, Adeyinka signed up for digital distribution with Demosend, which is reportedly associated with TuneCore, for a song called “tripping” (Doc. # 15, at 1). Adeyinka cancelled that agreement after about a month (Id.).

         Adeyinka has identified the following content for which he has obtained a registered copyright: (1) Safari Prime Enterprise Inc. Project, Registration No. Sru 1-241-673; (2) Vers Production Project, Registration No. Sru 1-143-374; (3) AdultrobbenHood Part 2, Registration No. Pau 3-885-865; (4) Sex Video, Registration No. Pau 3-691-586; (5) 1 how basketball play and crossover, Vau 1-179-052 (Doc. 8, at 1; Doc. 15, at 12-18). Adeyinka appears to allege that these works were reproduced or used in an unauthorized manner by “the defendants” and that he was deprived of between “65-90 million” in “music royalties” as a result (Doc. 15, at 3). He claims further that the defendants generally violated the following federal statutory provisions, which he identifies only as “DAM, ” “SOPA, ” “DMCA, ” and “ESO” (Doc. 1, at 2).

         In addition to his allegations of copyright infringement, Adeyinka claims that he was falsely accused and imprisoned for criminal charges lodged against him in Harris County, Texas (Doc. 15, at 3-4). He provides little information about those charges, referencing only an appeal in No. 01-18-00312-CR, which is associated with one of his convictions (Doc. 1, at 5).[2] He claims that his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated in connection with these charges, although he does not say by whom (Id. at 4). Adeyinka alleges further that he has been illegally required to register as a sex offender because he has a prior conviction for indecent exposure (Doc. 15, at 5).


         Because Adeyinka is pro se, his allegations are entitled to a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 97 S.Ct. 285, 292 (1976)); see also Haines v. Kerner, 92 S.Ct. 594, 596 (1972) (noting that allegations in a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers). Even under this lenient standard a plaintiff must allege more than “labels and conclusions' or a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         To state a claim for which relief may be granted under the federal pleading rules “[a] complaint must be plausible on its face based on factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Whitaker v. Collier, 862 F.3d 490, 497 (5th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). While it is not necessary for a plaintiff to plead specific facts, he must articulate “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965).


         A. Copyright Infringement Claims

         A copyright holder has the exclusive right to authorize the reproduction of his copyrighted work or, “in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.” 17 U.S.C. § 106(1), (6). To establish a prima facie case of copyright infringement, a plaintiff must show: (1) that he owns a valid copyright in the work; and (2) that the defendant copied original elements of the work. See Hermosilla v. Octoscope Music, LLC, Civil Action No. 10-21990, 2010 WL 5059559, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 6, 2010) (citing Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 68 F.3d 1257, 1265-66 (11th Cir. 2001)); see also Sanchez v. Hacienda Records and Recording Studio, Inc., 42 F.Supp.3d 845, 851 (S.D. Tex. 2014) (“Copyright infringement claims have two basic elements: (1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original.”) (citation ...

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