Miller Barondess Defeats Copyright Claim Against Mötley Crüe

On July 3, 2014, Judge Edmond E. Chang of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed plaintiff Ron Toma’s copyright complaint against the band Mötley Crüe for the lack of personal jurisdiction.

Toma’s complaint stemmed from the band’s use of the famous “Belt Buckle Image” – the cover art of the band’s first album, Too Fast For Love.  The band used the image as a background on its ReverbNation page.  Toma acquired the copyright to the image and has sued the band numerous times, alleging that the band exceeded the scope of its license in its use of the image.  For the second time in a row, Mötley Crüe successfully convinced the District of Illinois to dismiss Toma’s case.

First, the court rejected Toma’s allegation that there was general jurisdiction.  Despite periodic concerts in Illinois, the band lacked “the systematic and continuous contacts necessary to consider them ‘at home’ in Illinois.”  Second, the court rejected the exercise of personal jurisdiction, relying on a Seventh Circuit case decided just two months earlier, Advanced Tactical Ordnance Sys., LLC v. Real Action Paintball, Inc., No. 13-3005, 2014 WL 1849269, at *3 (7th Cir. May 9, 2014).  Finally, the court rejected Toma’s request for jurisdictional discovery, finding the factual record was already clear.

“The Court reached the right result.  The band is happy with the ruling,” said A. Sasha Frid, attorney for Mötley Crüe, Inc.