SLOT GAME MAKER SEEKS DAMAGES UNDER DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT AFTER PREVAILING IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT
Steven T. Lowe
On February 8, 2019, Slot game maker GC2 Inc. asked for the maximum penalty allowed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) after a jury found that three companies infringed their artwork for online slot games.
GC2’s request under DMCA against International Game Technology PLC (“IGT”), its Nevada subsidiary and former subsidiary DoubleDown Interactive LLC, comes after a jury found the three companies violated GC2’s copyrights 696 times and violated four different sections of the DMCA, which provides a maximum penalty of $25,000 for each violation. GC2 is asking for $69.6 million from each company, in addition to the $16 million awarded by the jury ($2,156,739 in actual damages and $14,118,314 in disgorged profits).
GC2’s request under the DMCA is going to depend on U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly’s determination on the following issues: (a) exactly how many violations of the DMCA was committed by each company; (b) whether to award damages under each of the four DMCA sections asserted, (c) how much between a statutory range of $2,500 and $25,000 to value each violation, and (d) whether to enter the judgment jointly or separately.
GC2 has already began justifying their case to Judge Kennelly by explaining “that entering separate judgments is necessary because the jury found that each had knowingly violated the DMCA…and that the DMCA was enacted “to address the potential for widespread copyright violations on what would become the internet.” GC2 further argued “that the damages are also warranted because the companies’ conduct has been ‘flagrant, contumacious, and continuous’ as they’ve continued to leave the infringing artwork online, even after getting hit with the jury’s verdict.”
According to GC2’s 2016 lawsuit, the company’s business relationship with IGT’s Nevada subsidiary began in 2003 by an agreement through which GC2 provided the two-dimensional video graphics and artwork necessary for implementing its projects on IGT’s slot machines. However, the companies business relationship took a turn for the worse after the agreement’s final amendment, its seventh, through which IGT gained what it claimed was an exclusive right and license to create derivative works of any of GC2’s projects. GC2 disagreed with the interpretation of the 7th Amendment to the contract, and the jury found in favor of GC2 on this issue.
During trial, GC2 claimed that IGT and DoubleDown specifically targeted six of its games- “Pharaoh’s Fortune,” “Coyote Moon,” “Wild Goose Chase,” “Festival Fantastico,” “Lucky Lion Fish” and “King Pin Bowling”- in their effort to begin offering already successful and familiar games on platforms such as Facebook and smartphones. GC2 showed that IGT made $28 million in profits from that strategy.
GC2 is represented by Kara Cenar, Kevin Hormuth and Susan Meyer of Greensfelder Hemker & Gale PC.
IGT, its subsidiary, DoubleDown and Masque are represented by Eric Macey, Brittney Cato, Christopher Moore, Joshua Liebman and Rebekah Parker of Novack & Macey LLP.
The case is GC2 Inc. v. International Game Technology PLC et al., case number 1:16-cv-08794, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
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