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Chicago IP Litigation Tracking Northern District of Illinois IP Cases

Tag Archives: Quash

Doe Defendant Allowed to Use Pseudonym in Porn Download Case to Avoid Abusive Litigation Tactics

Posted in Discovery

Sunlust Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-75, No. 12 C 1546, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2012) (Tharp, J.).

Judge Tharp denied Doe defendant’s motion to quash a subpoena seeking his identifying information from his cable provider in this BitTorrent copyright case, but allowed the Doe to proceed in the suit using a pseudonym.  The Court also denied Doe’s motion to sever the Doe defendants.  As an initial matter, while a party to a suit usually has no standing to move to quash a third party subpoena, there is an exception in cases such as this one where the subpoena implicates that party’s privacy.  But Doe’s motion to quash was based upon an argument that the 75 Does were not properly joined.  That, however, is not a valid ground for quashing a subpoena.

Plaintiff Sunlust’s joinder was not inappropriate in this case, despite district courts’ increasing concern regarding improper joinder of multiple Does in pornographic downloading cases around the country.  Sunlust alleged that each Doe participated simultaneously in a single BitTorrent “swarm” and that the Does were sharing portions of the file between themselves as a part of that process.  A swarm is the collective act of downloading a particular file.  And joinder was further supported by Sunlust’s civil conspiracy claim alleging that the Does, as part of a single swarm, were engaged in a conspiracy to unlawfully distribute the copyrighted movie.  Furthermore, the Does faced common legal and factual questions regarding Sunlust’s copyright claims.

In order to avoid abusive litigation tactics, the Court ordered that Sunlust only contact Doe through counsel and that Doe could proceed using a pseudonym, at least during discovery. 


Court Reminds Plaintiff of Rule 11 Obligation in Adult Movie Download Case

Posted in Discovery

Hard Drive Prods. v. Does 1-48, No. 11 C 9062, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. June 14, 2012) (Kim, Mag. J.).

Judge Kim denied two Doe defendants’ motions to quash subpoenas to their Internet service providers in this copyright case involving BitTorrent downloads of adult movies as part of a “swarm.”  The first motion was denied because it was filed anonymously by a pro se person identified by an IP address and signed with an “X.”  The anonymous filing did not meet the Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 requirement for a signed pleading.  The motion was, therefore, dismissed with leave to refile either using the Doe’s name or anonymously via counsel.

The second Doe defendant argued that its First Amendment rights to anonymous internet speech were being violated.  But there was no First Amendment right to copyright infringement.  Furthermore, there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in Doe’s subscriber information.  Finally, in light of the evidence that Doe did not commit infringing acts and the Court’s concern about Hard Drive Productions’ (“HDP”) tactics - having filed 118 lawsuits against 15,000 Does - the Court cautioned HDP to be “mindful” of Doe’s evidence and to consider “long and hard” before moving forward against this Doe so as to comport with Rule 11(b).