Pacific Century Int’l. v. Does 1-31, No. 11 C 9064, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 12, 2012) (Leinenweber, J.).
Judge Leinenweber granted plaintiff Pacific Century International’s (“PCI”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(2)(B) motion to compel subpoena compliance, in this BitTorrent copyright suit. The subpoena sought identifying information from Comcast for certain of its internet service customers. PCI had each Doe defendant’s IP address – a number assigned to a computer using the internet – but not the names, addresses or other identifying information associated with that computer or internet service account. Recognizing that courts in the Northern District and elsewhere were split on the issue, the Court held that joinder was proper based upon the allegation that the Does were involved in the same BitTorrent “swarm” used to download the alleged infringing video. The Court also noted that all of the Does sued in this case appeared to be Illinois residents based upon their IP addresses, unlike the Does in many other cases.
The Court also noted the concern that PCI and similarly-situated plaintiffs were using the threat of being named in these suits to unfairly coerce settlements. But getting the identifying information was necessary to move the case forward. The Court, therefore, ordered Comcast to notify its customers of the pending disclosure pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 551(c)(2) and then gave each such defendant thirty days from notice to object or otherwise move the Court for relief. Comcast was to turn over the identifying information only after any such objections were resolved.