Another day at the races for the major labels, who yesterday (1/30) filed no less than 7 copyright infringement cases against "John Doe" defendants in various federal district courts.
Here's a highlight from Warner Bros. Records, Inc. v. Does 1-4 (1:08-cv-00120-RLY-TAB; filed 1/30/08 in the Southern District of Indiana):
"The true names and capacities of Defendants are unknown to Plaintiffs at this time. Each Defendant is known to Plaintiffs only by the Internet Protocol ("IP") address assigned to that Defendant by his or her ISP on the date and time of that Defendant's infringing activity...Plaintiffs believe that information obtained in discovery will lead to the identification of each Defendant's true name."
"Although Plaintiffs do not know the true names of Defendants, each Defendant is alleged to have committed violations of the same law (e.g., copyright law), by committing the same acts (e.g., the downloading and distribution of copyright sound recordings owned by Plaintiffs), and by using the same means (e.g., a file-sharing network) that each Defendant accessed via the same ISP. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' right to relief arises out of the same series of transactions or occurrences, and there are questions of law or fact common to all Defendants such that joinder is warranted and appropriate here."
Several queries: first, can plaintiffs allege facts as mere "e.g."s? Their description of the infringing acts is beyond general and vague! Second, when you have 15 or more plaintiffs, how much damages does each actually get? The sheer number of plaintiffs indicates that these suits are meant as a deterrent to on-line infringement, rather than as a means to redress actual injury.
But, the fun doesn't stop. Plaintiffs in the above case also filed an ex parte motion for leave to take immediate discovery on a third party ISP to determine the true identies of the Doe defendants.
"Plaintiffs intend to serve a [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] Rule 45 subpoena on the ISP seeking documents that identify each Defendant's true name, current (and permanent) addresses and telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Media Access Control ("MAC") addresses. Without this information, Plaintiffs cannot identify the Doe Defendants or pursue their lawsuit to protect their copyrighted works from repeated infringement."
A glance at the attached "proposed order" shows that the ISP is Indiana University-Purdue University...so IU students, look out!
Also filed with the motion was a brief and affidavit, with attached exhibits of similar orders granted in other district courts. (S.D. Ind.; W.D.Wis.; N.D. Ill; N.D. Ind.; E.D. Wis; C.D. Ill.)
Faithful readers of OTCS, you guessed it. Virtually identical complaints, ex parte motions (and affidavits from the same individual, Carlos Linares) were filed in the other Doe cases: Elektra Enter. Group Inc. v. Does 1-11, (1:-08-cv-10140-NG; filed 1/30/08; D.Mass); Arista Records LLC v. Does 1-3 (1:08-cv-10139-NG; filed 1/30/08); Atlantic Recording Corp. v. Does 1-14 (1:08-cv-00028-JAW; filed 1/30/08; D.Maine); Arista Records LLC v. Does 1-36 (0:08-cv-00278-DWF-AJB; filed 1/30/08; D.Minn - 2d Div.); Arista Records LLC v. Does 1-5; 3:08-cv-00523-GEB-TJB; filed 1/30/08; order granting ex parte discovery on Princeton University 1/30/08; D.N.J); and Arista Records LLC v. Does 1-10 (5:08-cv-00108-NPM-GJD; filed 1/30/08; N.D.N.Y.; proposed order indicates discovery sought on Ithaca College).
I wonder how the clerks of each of the above courts would feel knowing plaintiffs are filing form-complaints and motions with the court? Are the district courts a processing center for the RIAA?