File-Sharing



Atlantic Recording Corp., et al. v. Does 1-125

In this case, sixteen music companies sued 125 anonymous, unrelated, and geographically disparate individuals in a single action in this District, solely because their Internet Service Provider, Cox Communications, Inc. was located in Georgia. The plaintiffs alleged that each defendant each made available to the general public files from his or her personal computer containing different copyrighted musical performances. They subpoenaed Cox, seeking the defendants’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and MAC addresses to serve summons or settlement offers. John Doe #35 challenged the discovery subpoena on grounds of personal jurisdiction and improper joinder. Public Citizen argues that his arguments apply to every defendant.

We filed a motion to quash the subpoena. While our motion was pending, before the RIAA responded, our client opted to settle.

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Recording Industry Association of America v. Verizon Internet Services

The RIAA served two subpoenas on Verizon, seeking to identify two subscribers who allegedly offered hundreds of copyrighted songs available for download through the KaZaA peer-to-peer file sharing system. RIAA invoked a provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that authorizes such subpoenas. RIAA objected, and appealed from an order enforcing the subpoenas on the ground that the DMCA does not allow subpoenas where the copyrighted files remain on the subscriber's own computers, and that the law was unconstitutional because it permitted subpoenas to be issued by a court's clerk rather than requiring the copyright owner to file a lawsuit against the subscriber and seek discovery under John Doe procedures.

Public Citizen submitted an amicus curiae brief arguing that the statute incorporates the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which have, in turn, been construed to require notice and an opportunity to argue that the right of anonymous speech outweighs the right to identify alleged wrongdoers in particular cases. Because the statute indirectly requires notice, and because notice was in fact given and on the facts of the case the balancing test does not justify withholding the identities, Public Citizen argued that the decision should be affirmed.

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BMG Music v. Does (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)

Following the D.C. Court of Appeals' ruling in RIAA v. Verizon Internet Services, a group of music companies filed a series of lawsuits, each of which accuses between 7 and 300 anonymous defendants of illegal file-sharing. Public Citizen, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, is seeking to force the music companies to give the unnamed defendants the same Due Process and First Amendment rights as any other defendant. Specifically, Public Citizen has asked the courts to require proof of copyright violations before ordering each defendant's Internet Service Provider to reveal the defendant's identity, and to force the music companies to file separate lawsuits where each defendant resides.

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Interscope Records v. Does (Middle District of Florida)

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Motown v. Does (Northern District of Georgia)

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UMG Recordings Inc. v. Does (District of Columbia)

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