Copyright Case

Lang Van v. VNG

Lang Van, a leading producer and distributor of Vietnamese music and entertainment, filed a copyright infringement suit against VNG, a company based in Vietnam that operates a music streaming website. Lang Van alleges that VNG’s Zing music website and app, which VNG makes available in the U.S., offers thousands of Lang Van’s copyrighted works without authorization and that Lang Van receives no compensation for VNG’s use.

Despite providing its app and website to millions of users in the U.S., the District Court for the Central District of California found that VNG “didn’t purposefully direct its activities toward California” and granted defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Lang Van appealed to the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the district court erred by determining that Lang Van had not established a prima facie case under the first, second, and third prongs of the specific jurisdiction test and that the court did not properly apply the Ninth Circuit’s test for purposeful direction because it did not consider all of the relevant evidence submitted by Lang Van.

On July 21, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that VNG was subject to personal jurisdiction in the United States. Reversing the district court’s dismissal and remanding for further proceedings consistent with the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the court held that VNG met all three prongs of the personal jurisdiction test under Rule 4(k)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, since (1) a copyright infringement claim was a claim under federal law (2) VNG did not concede that any other state had jurisdiction and (3) there was substantial evidence of VNG’s intentional direction in and contacts with the United States. The court stated that VNG “purposefully targeted American companies and their intellectual property” and “purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in the United States.” It pointed to, among other evidence, that VNG did not choose to opt out of providing their services or geoblock its services in the United States. The court also held that the United States was the proper venue for the case since the dispute involved infringing activities in the United States, which made it more appropriate to a lawsuit in the United States.

Procedural History

Central District of California (Nov. 21, 2019)

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (July 21, 2022)

Status: Decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Court: Ninth Circuit

Amicus briefs