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Raw Films v. Does

Raw Films v. Does

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Published by: internetcopyright_lawyer on Oct 28, 2011
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02/27/2014

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RAW
FILMS,
LTD.,
JOHN
DOES
1-32,
IN
THE
UNITEDSTATESDISTRICT
COURT
FOR
THE
EASTERNDISTRICTOFVIRGINIA
Richmond
Division
Plaintiff,
Civil
Action
No.
3:1
Icv532-JAG
Defendants.
MEMORANDUMORDER
Thiscaseconcernstheallegeduploadinganddownloading
of
thepornographicfilm
"Raw
Rescue"(the"Work")usingapeer-to-peerfilesharingclientknownasBitTorrent.The
plaintifffiledacomplaint(the"Complaint")forcopyrightinfringementonAugust15,2011,claimingthat32JohnDoedefendantsviolatedtheUnitedStatesCopyrightAct,17U.S.C.§§
101-1332,
in
securing
and
sharing
a
copy
of
the
Work
over
the
internet.'
To
establish
personal
jurisdictioninthisdistrict,theplaintiffusedgeolocationtechnologyandtracedtheInternet
Protocol("IP")addresses
of
eachdefendanttoacquirethegenerallocationandtime
of
the
allegedinfringement.(ComplaintK4.)OnAugust16,2011,theCourtgrantedtheplaintiffsrequestforleavetotakediscovery
priortotheRule26(f)conference,authorizingittoserveRule45subpoenasontheinternet
serviceproviders("ISPs")namedinExhibitA
of
theComplaint.Upondueconsideration,
PlaintiffscounselfiledvirtuallyidenticalcomplaintsinthreecasesbeforethisCourt,including
theinstantcase:CivilCaseNos.3:11cv469,3:11cv531,and3:11cv532.VariousDoedefendants
have
filed
motions
to
sever,
quash,
or
dismiss
inall
three
cases.
Noneofthe
motions
areripeat
this
time;
however,theypresentsimilar,ifnotidentical,issues.Intheinterestofjustice,the
Court,
sua
sponte,
determinedthatthisMemorandumOrderwasnecessarytoconformtothe
Federal
Rules
of
CivilProcedure.
Case 3:11-cv-00532-JAG Document 9 Filed 10/05/11 Page 1 of 6 PageID# 120
 
however,theCourtfindsthatDoedefendants2-32havebeenimproperlyjoinedinviolation
of
FederalRule
of
CivilProcedure20(a)(2).Forthereasonsstatedherein,theCourtfindsthatall
defendantsexceptDoe1shouldbeSEVEREDfromthiscase.
Discussion
TheBitTorrentsoftwareatissueallowsapersontovisitaprivatewebsiteanddownload
afilecontainingthedesireddigitalmediaontoaprogramalreadyinstalledontheuser's
computer.Oncethefileisloaded,theBitTorrentprogramconnectstohundredsorthousands
of
differentusersthatpossessandsharecopies
of
theparticularmediacontainedinthefile,andit
coordinatesthecopying
of
themediausingthedigitalcopies
of
thoseotherusers.Asthe
originaluser(or"peer")downloadshisorhercopy,itisimmediately
made
availabletootheruserslookingtoobtainthefile.Inthisway,thecollection
of
userswhosimultaneously"share"aparticularfileisknownasa"swarm."Theplaintiff,inessence,reliesonthis"swarm"theoryto
claimthatthedefendantsactedinconcertthroughaseries
of
transactionstocommitthe
infringement.
(See
Compl.f10.)TheCourt,however,disagreeswiththisconception
of
proper
joinder
underthe
Federal
Rules
of
CivilProcedure.
UnderRule20(a)(2),permissivejoinder
of
defendantsisproperif:"(A)anyrighttorelief
isassertedagainstthemjointly,severally,orinthealternativewithrespecttoorarisingout
of
thesametransaction,occurrence,orseries
of
transactionsoroccurrences;and(B)anyquestion
of
laworfactcommontoalldefendantswillariseintheaction."Fed.R.Civ.P.20(a)(2).Rule20(a)(2)isdesignedtopromotejudicialeconomyandtrialconvenience.
SeeMosley
v.
Gen.
Motors,
497F.2d1330,1332-33(8thCir.1974).Furthermore,Rule21provides:"[misjoinder
ofpartiesisnotagroundfordismissinganaction.Onmotionoronitsown,thecourtmayat
Case 3:11-cv-00532-JAG Document 9 Filed 10/05/11 Page 2 of 6 PageID# 121
 
anytime,onjustterms,addor
drop
a
party.
The
courtmayalsoseveranyclaimagainsta
party."
Fed.R.Civ.P.21(emphasisadded).
Inshort,theplaintiffhasfailedtodemonstrateanyrighttoreliefagainstthedefendants
arisingout
of
thesametransaction,occurrence,orseries
of
transactionsoroccurrences."Merelycommittingthesametype
of
violationinthesamewaydoesnotlinkdefendantstogetherfor
purposes
of
joinder."
LafaceRecords,LLC
v.
Does1-38,
No.5:07-CV-298,2008U.S.Dist.
LEXIS
14544,at*7(E.D.N.C.Feb.27,2008).TheCourtagreeswithJudgeSpero'sanalysisin
a
recentdecision
fromtheUnited
StatesDistrictCourt
for
theNorthern
District
of
California:
UndertheBitTorrentProtocol,itisnotnecessarythateach
of
theDoes1-188participated
inorcontributedtothedownloading
of
eachother'scopies
of
the
work
atissue—oreven
participatedinorcontributedtothedownloading
by
any
of
theDoes1-188.
Any
"pieces"
of
the
work
copiedoruploaded
by
anyindividualDoe
may
havegonetoany
otherDoe
ortoany
of
thepotentiallythousandswhoparticipatedinagivenswarm.
The
barefactthataDoeclickedonacommandtoparticipateintheBitTorrentProtocoldoes
notmeanthattheywerepart
of
thedownloading
by
unknownhundredsorthousands
of
individualsacrossthecountryoracrosstheworld...Indeed,Plaintiffconcedesthat
whiletheDoeDefendants
may
haveparticipatedinthesameswarm,they
may
nothavebeenphysicallypresentintheswarmontheexactsamedayandtime.
HardDrive
Productions,Inc.v.
Does
1-188,
No.C-11-01566,2011
U.S.
Dist.
LEXIS
94319,at
*39-40(N.D.Cal.August23,2011)(internalquotationmarksomitted).Themereallegationthatthedefendantshaveusedthesamepeer-to-peernetworktocopyandreproducetheWork—whichoccurredondifferentdaysandtimesoveraspan
of
threemonths—isinsufficienttomeetthestandards
of
joindersetforthinRule20.
SeeDiabolic
Video
Productions,Inc.v.Does1-2099,
No.10-CV-5865,2011U.S.Dist.
LEXIS
58351,at*10-11
(N.D.Cal.May31,2011);
seealsoMillennium
TGA,Inc.
v.Does1-21,
No.11-2258,2011U.S.
Dist.LEXIS53465,at*6-7(N.D.Cal.May12,2011).Accordingly,theCourtconcludesthat
joinder
of
theDoedefendantsinthisactiondoesnotsatisfyRule20(a).Intheinterest
of
Case 3:11-cv-00532-JAG Document 9 Filed 10/05/11 Page 3 of 6 PageID# 122

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