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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
MILLENNIUM TGA, INC.,
NON-PARTY COMCAST CABLE COMMUNICATIONS, LLC’S
OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S RULING
Non-Party Comcast Communications, LLC (“Comcast”) objects to the order issued by
Magistrate Judge Alan Kay on April 18, 2012 (“Order”) (Dkt. 15), granting Plaintiff Millennium
TGA, Inc.’s (“Millennium’s) motion to compel compliance with subpoena (Dkt. 1), and in
support thereof states as follows:
This miscellaneous action arises out of an underlying copyright infringement case
pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas (No. 11-4501) in which
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant John Doe and 938 anonymous alleged co-conspirators have
infringed Plaintiff’s copyright in a certain sexually explicit audiovisual work by distributing and
downloading unauthorized copies or excerpts of the work over the Internet. (Compl. ¶ 23).
Comcast is not a defendant in the underlying action, but is instead a non-party Internet Service
Provider (“ISP”) that was served with a subpoena for the identifying information for the Doe
Defendant and alleged co-conspirators who Plaintiff claims accessed the internet to illegally
download copyrighted works using Comcast internet services. (Compl. ¶ 4). Although the
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underlying case was filed in Texas, the Subpoena served on Comcast was issued out of this
Court. Accordingly, after Comcast objected to the Subpoena, as more fully explained below,
Plaintiff filed its motion to compel here as a miscellaneous action.
This miscellaneous action is not the first time Plaintiff had its claims with respect to the
audiovisual work at issue and the 939 IP addresses before this Court. Plaintiff originally filed its
claims on December 7, 2012 in a complaint captioned Millennium TGA v. Does 1-939, No. 1:11-
cv-02176-RLW, in this Court (hereinafter “Millennium TGA I”). The action was assigned to
Judge Robert L. Wilkins. Millennium voluntarily dismissed that action a week later on
December 16, 2012. (See Dkt. 8-1, Millennium TGA I Pacer Docket Sheet). We have noted that
the quick dismissal was due to Judge Wilkins’ earlier denial of a motion for leave to engage in
discovery of ISPs in a similar circumstance outlined in Nu Image, Inc. v. Does 1-23, 799
F.Supp.2d 34 (D.D.C. 2011).
Thereafter, on December 20, 2012, Millennium re-filed essentially the same complaint in
the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, as Millennium TGA, Inc. v. John Doe,
4:11-cv-4501-VG (hereinafter “Millennium TGA II”). The complaint in Millennium TGA II
involves nearly identical parties, facts and claims as the previously dismissed complaint in
Millennium TGA I. (See Dkt. 8, Notice of Related Case and Request for Reassignment).1
In Millennium TGA II, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted
permission for Plaintiff to pursue limited discovery of the ISPs, including Comcast, to attempt to
identify the Doe Defendant and alleged co-conspirators. (Dkt. 1, Mot. to Compel 18) (discovery
1 For example, in Millennium TGA II, the caption lists only one “Doe Defendant” but alleges that there are 938
unnamed Doe co-conspirators, whose identities Plaintiff seeks in discovery. These 939 Does are the exact same
Does in Millennium TGA I who allegedly downloaded the same movie over the same periods of time. (See Dkt. 8,
Notice of Related Case and Request for Reassignment).
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order)).2 Pursuant to the Discovery Order, Plaintiff served the Subpoena on Comcast on
February 15, 2012, seeking the identities of 351 individuals who, Plaintiff alleges, are Comcast
subscribers. (Dkt. 1, Mot. to Compel 21-29). The Subpoena was issued out of this Court,
although there is no apparent reason for doing so given only three of the 351 Comcast IP
addresses can be traced to subscribers in the District of Columbia.
Comcast filed timely objections to the Subpoena by letter dated February 29, 2012. (Dkt.
1, Mot. to Compel 31). Comcast objected to compliance with the Subpoena on several grounds,
including: (1) that this court lacked personal jurisdiction over the vast majority of subject IP
addresses; (2) the rules for joinder of the Doe Defendant and his alleged co-conspirators cannot
be satisfied in the underlying action because the alleged illegal activity of the different IP
addresses occurred on different days and times over a more than eight-week period; and (3) the
Plaintiff’s decision to issue the Subpoena from this Court was a blatant attempt to forum shop
insofar as Plaintiff dismissed Millennium TGA I to avoid being in front of Judge Wilkins who
had earlier denied a copyright infringement plaintiff’s motion for an ex parte order, see Nu
Image, Inc. v. Does 1-23, 799 F.Supp.2d 34 (D.D.C. 2011), and Plaintiff may also seek to avoid
unfavorable precedent in the federal district courts in Texas, or simply to cause confusion as to
where proper challenges to the discovery efforts can be made.
This miscellaneous docket was referred to Magistrate Judge Alan Kay on March 8, 2012.
After Plaintiff and Comcast fully briefed Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel and Comcast’s
Opposition thereto, as well as a telephonic status conference on April 17, 2012, Magistrate Judge
issued an order on April 18, 2012 granting Plaintiff’s motion and ordering Comcast to serve all
of its 351 subscribers (as identified by IP addresses) within sixty days. Magistrate Judge Kay
2 Because Plaintiff did not separately file the attachments to the Motion, references to page numbers in Plaintiff’s
Motion are to the ECF electronically-stamped page numbers.
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held that Comcast could not raise the objections to the Subpoena based on defenses such as
misjoinder and personal jurisdiction on the grounds that such defenses were not to be considered
at this stage of the proceeding. (Order at 4-5). Comcast seeks de novo review of the Order and
objects to Magistrate Judge Kay’s Order on the following grounds:
First, the judge erred by failing to consider any defenses raised by Comcast on behalf of
its subscribers because unless they are considered now, it will be too late for them to assert such
defenses in the Texas court after they have been identified.
Second, the judge erred by failing to address whether any of the unnamed Does would be
subject to personal jurisdiction here or in Texas.
Third, the judge erred by failing to address the possible misjoinder of the Doe Defendant
and alleged co-conspirators.
Fourth, the judge erred by failing to consider that the allegations of conspiracy were
inadequate to allow for massive discovery on alleged infringers over a lengthy period of time
when nothing makes the identification of those alleged infringers relevant to any claim against
the single Doe defendant named in the Complaint.
Fifth, the judge erred by failing to reassign this matter to Judge Robert L. Wilkins,
pursuant to Local Rule 40.5, who was previously assigned to Plaintiff’s previously filed and
dismissed case asserting nearly identical claims.
Standard of Review
Objections to a Magistrate Judge’s ruling are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local
Rule 72.2(b). The district court “may reconsider any pretrial matter … where it has been shown
that the magistrate’s order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).
“Upon consideration of objections filed in accordance with this Rule, a district judge may
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modify or set aside any portion of a magistrate judge’s order under this Rule found to be clearly
erroneous or contrary to law.” Local Rule 72.2(c).
The Judge Erred By Failing To Consider The Personal Jurisdiction Defenses
Raised By Comcast On Behalf of Its Subscribers
The vast majority of the subscribers whose personal information is sought in the
Subpoena are not even subject to either this Court’s or the underlying court’s jurisdiction.
Indeed, a preliminary search of the IP addresses listed in Plaintiff’s Subpoena revealed that just
three of the 351 Comcast IP addresses in the Subpoena could be associated with subscribers
located in the District of Columbia, and only 14 of the remaining IP addresses could be traced to
subscribers in Texas. Courts have found that utilizing discovery to identify Does who are not
subject to personal jurisdiction or joinder, and never sued, but are nonetheless contacted for
settlement demands, is abusive and that waiting until after the subscribers are named for these
defenses to be considered is too late and ineffective. See, e.g., Pacific Century Int’l, LTD. v.
John Does 1-37, et al., No. 12 C 1057, 2012 WL 1072312 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 30, 2012) (denying
plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery of non-party IP addresses because, among other things,
personal jurisdiction was lacking over most of the subscribers associated with the IP addresses).3
Precisely because of the impact and lack of opportunity for those subscribers to assert their
defenses without being identified, Comcast should not be subject to the burden – undue or
otherwise – of providing the requested information that ultimately will not even be useful in
Millennium TGA II and which, consistent with Plaintiff’s counsel’s tactics in multiple courts,
3 Comcast submitted a Notice of Supplemental Authority to the Court providing copies of four recent decisions by
federal courts declining to enforce early discovery orders and related subpoenas issued in cases nearly identical to
Millennium TGA II on the grounds that the Doe Defendants who reside outside the judicial district in which the
action was brought are not subject to personal jurisdiction of the court and that joinder of the defendants is improper.
(Dkt. 13). One such opinion, issued by the Northern District of Illinois, acknowledged a trend amongst the federal
courts to “increasingly accep[t]” these arguments and “seve[r] the defendants or quas[h] the subpoenas.” Pacific
Century Int’l, LTD. v. John Does 1-37, et al., 2012 WL 1072312, at *7..
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will likely only ever be used to attempt to extract pre-litigation settlements from Comcast’s
subscribers who are not subject to personal jurisdiction in Millennium TGA II. Nor should
Comcast’s customers face the disclosure of their identities to Plaintiff given these clear
Magistrate Judge Kay held that Comcast could not raise the personal jurisdiction issue at
this time. This was clear error.
First, the Complaint in Millennium TGA II was brought in the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Texas, with the Subpoena at issue merely issuing out of this Court.
Accordingly, it is the law of the Southern District of Texas – not this Court – as to issues
regarding personal jurisdiction over the Doe Defendant and/or his alleged co-conspirators that
would govern. And, “the court in the Underlying Action may raise the question of personal
jurisdiction sua sponte.” King v. Forest, No. 3:08-cv-1405-L, 2008 WL 4951049, at *4-5 (N.D.
Tex. Nov. 14, 2008) (dismissing action against John Doe defendant for lack of personal
jurisdiction) (citing System Pipe & Supply, Inc. v. M/V VIKTOR KURNATOVSKIY, 242 F.3d
322, 324 (5th Cir. 2001) (approving sua sponte dismissal of action instead of entry of default
judgment); Frass v. Southern Pac. Transp. Co., 810 F. Supp. 189, 190 (S.D. Miss. 1993) (raising
question of personal jurisdiction sua sponte)). It is “well-established that the Texas long-arm
statute authorizes the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the full extent allowed by the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Central Freight Lines v. APA Transp. Corp.,
322 F.3d 376, 380 (5th Cir. 2003). The constitutional due process test is typically met if the
defendant has “minimum contacts” with the forum state (here, Texas) such that the maintenance
of the suit “does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.’” Id. (citing
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). This analysis requires courts
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to determine whether “the defendant’s conduct and connection with the forum State are such that
he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v.
Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). These same personal jurisdiction limitations apply to
copyright infringement actions. Lumiere v. Mae Edna Wilder, Inc., 261 U.S. 174, 177 (1923)
(the Copyright Act does not permit nationwide service of process). The Texas long-arm statue
authorizes jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant if the defendant commits a tort “in whole or
in part in this state.” Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 17.042(2). The Southern District of
Texas has found that, for the tort of copyright infringement, the “effects test” provides that
personal jurisdiction “may be proper where the effects of a defendant’s conduct in one state may
cause injury in the forum state.” Healix Infusion Therapy, Inc. v. HHI Infusion Servs., No. H-09-
3440, 2010 WL 2277389, at *3 (S.D. Tex. June 3, 2010) (citation omitted). Here, there is no
allegation that the copyright holder is located in this jurisdiction. Indeed, the Complaint alleges
that Plaintiff is organized under the laws of the State of Hawaii, with its principal place of
business located in Los Angeles, California. (Compl. ¶ 2).
Second, even if this Court were ultimately the one that would make the personal
jurisdiction determination, Magistrate Judge Kay conspicuously ignores the recent decision by
Judge Wilkins in Nu Image.4 In Nu Image, Judge Wilkins analyzed a discovery request to
authorize subpoenas on multiple ISPs to obtain the identifying information for various IP
addresses alleged to have been used to illegally download copyrighted works. The IP addresses
were for a multitude of subscribers not resident in this district and, with a non-resident plaintiff,
Judge Wilkins found no good grounds to assert jurisdiction or venue in D.C. pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1400(a). Judge Wilkins required the Nu Image plaintiff to make a prima facie
4 Of course, as discussed herein, Plaintiff’s avoidance of Judge Wilkins and his Nu Image
decision is no accident. See infra Section D.
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evidentiary showing that all Doe defendants were likely to reside in this district – before serving
subpoenas on the ISPs – on the grounds that it would comport with fundamental notions of
fairness and would not impose any real burden on plaintiff, given the “geolocation services that
are generally available to the public to derive the approximate location of the IP addresses
identified for each putative defendant.” 799 F. Supp. 2d at 37-42.5 Here, Plaintiff admitted that
it is capable of making preliminary determinations as to the location of the potential Doe
Defendants (Compl. ¶ 6), so there is no reason why it could not have informed the Court of the
many IP Addresses that have no connection to this or the underlying jurisdiction. Further, it is
certainly not proper to require the underlying subscribers/potential defendants who do not reside
here to travel more than 100 miles to anonymously challenge the subpoenas. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
45(c)(3)(A)(ii) (requiring that a subpoena requiring a nonparty witness to travel more than 100
miles from his or her residence or place of business to be modified or quashed).
Given the ever-increasing mass Doe defendant actions being filed throughout the country,
many courts have now had the opportunity to analyze the characteristics of BitTorrent file-
sharing systems, and other courts have reached similar conclusions to Nu Image. Indeed, several
courts have revisited their earlier rulings that permitted broad Doe discovery by way of broad
subpoenas to multiple ISPs. For example, in two similar proceedings in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York, the court refused to allow discovery of any
subscriber outside the State of New York, rejecting Plaintiff’s identical argument in the instant
5 Nu Image reconsidered the court’s prior orders that had authorized discovery of the ISPs in
mass copyright actions based on plaintiffs’ representations that the general venue statute, 28
U.S.C. § 1391(b), governed, rather than the specific venue statute for copyright litigation:
“[O]nce the Court realized that 28 U.S.C. § 1400(a) was the appropriate venue statute, and that it
requires that every single defendant can be ‘found here,’ the Court felt compelled to focus more
sharply on personal jurisdiction and the good cause standard for expedited discovery. The Court
recognizes its initial error and seeks to correct it here.” Nu Image, 799 F. Supp. 2d at 41 n.7.
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Complaint concerning BitTorrent swarms and seeders. “The mere fact that BitTorrent protocol
and eDonkey network employ ‘swarming’ capacity is insufficient to confer jurisdiction.”
DigiProtect USA Corp. v. Does 1-240, No. 10-cv-8760, 2011 WL 4444666, at *3 (S.D.N.Y.
Sept. 26, 2011). In a second DigiProtect case, the court quashed the subpoenas, amended its
earlier order allowing discovery of the ISPs, and held that plaintiff “may only serve subpoenas
on those ISPs whose IP addresses identified by [plaintiff] in [the exhibit listing IP addresses]
correspond to accounts located in” the state where the court is located. DigiProtect USA Corp. v.
Does 1-266, No. 10-cv-8759, 2011 WL 1466073, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 13, 2011). See also CP
Prods., Inc. v. Does 1-300, No. 10 C 6255, 2011 WL 737761, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 24, 2011)
(“[T]here is no justification for dragging into an Illinois federal court, on a wholesale basis, a
host of unnamed defendants over whom personal jurisdiction clearly does not exist and-more
importantly-as to whom [plaintiff’s] counsel could readily have ascertained that fact.”);
Millennium TGA v. Doe, No. 10 C 5603, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110135, at *4-5 (N.D. Ill.
Sept. 26, 2011) (denying request for discovery of ISPs and dismissing action where Plaintiff’s
current counsel failed to show any facts show how defendant’s “infringing activities were
directed towards this forum and bring him or her within this court’s jurisdiction”); On The
Cheap, LLC v. Does 1-5011, No. C10-4472, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99831, at *7-8 (N.D. Cal.
Sept. 6, 2011) (explaining that the logical effect of Plaintiff’s personal-jurisdiction arguments
“would be that everybody who used . . . BitTorrent would subject themselves to jurisdiction in
every state,” a result inconsistent with Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475
(1985), and other Supreme Court precedent); SBO Pictures, Inc. v. Does 1-87, No. 11-1962,
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6968, at *6-9 (D.D.C. Jan. 19, 2012) (following Nu Image and denying
request for discovery of ISPs); New Sensations, Inc. v. Does 1-1,474, No. C 11-2770, 2011 U.S.
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Dist. LEXIS 140670, at *7-9 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 7, 2011) (citing Nu Image and explaining that,
“[w]here Plaintiff has made no effort to determine jurisdiction, the administration of justice is
not served by requiring out-of-state recipients of subpoenas to bring challenges to the subpoenas
in far-flung jurisdictions”); Hard Drive Prods., Inc. v. Does 1-188, 809 F. Supp. 2d 1150 at
1157-65 (N.D. Cal. 2011) (quashing subpoenas where Plaintiff’s counsel failed to provide a
sufficient showing that the Doe defendants were properly subject to suit as part of the same
“swarm”; summarizing decisions that address mechanics of BitTorrent protocols); Hard Drive
Prods., Inc. v. Does 1-30, No. 11cv345, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119333, at *7-10 (E.D. Va.
Oct. 17, 2011) (citing Hard Drive, 809 F. Supp. 2d 1150, with approval); Berlin Media Art v.
Does 1-654, No. 11-03770, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120257, at *4-6 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 18, 2011)
(denying request for discovery of the identities of Does 1-654 based on jurisdictional principles
and the court’s research: “with minimal effort, the Court was able to utilize one of many free and
publicly available services to look up the locations affiliated with IP addresses for which Plaintiff
seeks discovery”); Patrick Collins, Inc. v. Does 1-2,590, No. C 11-2766, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
140913, at *4-5 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 7, 2011) (explaining that, “even if one or more of the
unidentified defendants allegedly downloaded the file at some point during the time period in
question from a computer located in this District, the Court is not aware of any caselaw that
suggests that it has personal jurisdiction over all 2,590 Defendants based on this connection”);
Funimation Entm’t v. Does 1-1,337, No. 3:11-cv-00147, Order Vacating the Court’s Order
Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Take Discovery Prior to Rule 26(f) Conference and
Order to Show Cause [Doc. No. 6], (N.D. Tex. Feb. 7, 2011) (vacating prior order allowing early
discovery of Does because “the Discovery Motion concerns matters that could materially affect
the interest of the Defendant Does, but because the Defendants’ identities have yet to be
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ascertained, the Does cannot represent their interests before this Court”). But see Call of the
Wild Movie, LLC v. Does 1-1,062, 770 F. Supp. 2d 332, 345-46 (D.D.C. 2011) (concluding that
jurisdictional discovery was warranted where plaintiff had a good-faith belief for allegation that
personal jurisdiction existed).6
None of these decisions were considered or examined by Magistrate Judge Kay. For that
reason alone, the Magistrate’s Order granting Plaintiffs Motion to Compel should be set aside.
The Judge Erred By Failing to Address the Misjoinder of the Doe Defendant
and Alleged Co-Conspirators
The rules for prospective joinder of the Doe Defendant and/or his alleged co-conspirators
cannot be satisfied in Millennium TGA II. Without that being shown, compelling discovery of
these alleged co-conspirators is not proper. Numerous other cases have made clear that the
alleged use of BitTorrent technology, like earlier P2P technologies, does not satisfy the
requirements for permissive joinder. See, e.g., Third Degree Films, Inc. v. Does 1-108, Civil No.
8:11-cv-03007-DKC, Memorandum Opinion [Doc. No. 40], (D. Md. Apr. 27, 2012) (granting
motions to sever all defendants except Doe 1, dismissing remaining defendants with prejudice,
and quashing all subpoenas seeking severed defendants’ personal identifying information);
Cinetel Films, Inc. et al. v. Does 1-1,052, Civil No. JFM 8:11-cv-02438, 2012 WL 1142272 (D.
Md. Apr. 4, 2012) (finding joinder of putative defendants improper because the BitTorrent
protocol does not meet Rule 20’s transactional requirement and severing claims against all
6 Given the multitude of mass Doe actions filed by Plaintiff’s counsel throughout the country
(discussed below), Comcast has asked Judge Howell to revisit the Call of the Wild decision in
opposition to a currently pending motion to compel filed by Plaintiff’s counsel against Comcast
in another proceeding before this Court. See AF Holdings v. Does 1-1058, No. 1:12-CV-00048-
BAH, Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Compliance with Subpoena [Doc. No. 12],
(D.D.C. Mar. 5, 2012). Moreover, even if this action does not get transferred to Judge Wilkins
(see supra n.4), Comcast respectfully suggests that Judge Wilkins’ precedent in Nu Image should
be followed here, given that this action is identical to an earlier filed but dismissed action that
was previously assigned to Judge Wilkins. (See, infra, Section D).
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defendant (except for the first remaining Doe defendant listed in the complaint), dismissing all
other defendants, and quashing all subpoenas seeking severed defendants’ personal identifying
information); Patrick Collins, Inc. v. John Does 1-23, Case No. 11-cv-15231 (E.D. Mich. Mar.
26, 2012) (granting motion to quash in part on the grounds that simply alleging the use of
BitTorrent technology does not comport with the requirements under Rule 20(a) for permissive
joinder); K-Beech, Inc. v. John Does 1-41, Civil Action No. V-11-46, 2012 WL 773683 (S.D.
Tex. Mar. 8, 2012) (granting motions to sever and to quash subpoena because plaintiff failed to
establish that joinder was appropriate under Rules 20 and 21 where the alleged activity involved
24 defendants, 7 different ISPs, and approximately three months of activity); Hard Drive, 809 F.
Supp. 2d at 1157. Here, just as the court found in Hard Drive, because the exhibit attached to
the Complaint reflects that the activity of the different IP addresses occurred on different days
and times over a more than eight-week period,7 any suggestion that the Doe Defendants acted in
concert is unpersuasive. Id. at 1163-64. See also DigiProtect USA Corp. v. Does 1-240, 2011
WL 4444666, at *3 n.2 (“To participate, a user must be online at the time of a swarm.”).
Accordingly, the Complaint does not satisfy the “same series of transactions” test for joinder.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). Indeed, a series of nearly identical recent cases have expressly
prohibited discovery and quashed subpoenas similar to the instant Subpoena. See, e.g., Steve
Hardeman, LLC v. Does 1-168, No. 3:11-cv-00056, Order Severing Does 2-168 [Doc. No. 6],
(N.D. Tex. Feb. 10, 2011) (severing all but one Doe Defendant because “Defendants’ alleged use
of the BitTorrent software system to commit copyright infringement is, without more,
insufficient for permissive joinder under Rule 20”); Hard Drive, 809 F. Supp. 2d 1150 (finding
joinder improper and severing and dismissing all claims against all but one Doe defendant)
7 In the Hard Drive case, it was a two-week period. Hard Drive, 809 F. Supp. 2d at 1164.
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(finding that the nature of BitTorrent protocol does not justify joinder of otherwise unrelated Doe
defendants because BitTorrent protocol is of the same peer-to-peer architecture of other peer-to-
peer protocols where joinder has been found improper); Diabolic Video Prods., Inc. v. Does 1-
2099, No. 10-CV-5865, 2011 WL 3100404, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 31, 2011) (“[T]he mere
allegation that defendants have used the same peer-to-peer network to infringe a copyrighted
work is insufficient to meet the standards for joinder set forth in Rule 20.”); Millennium TGA
Inc. v. Does 1-800, No. 10 C 5603 [Doc. No. 55], (N.D. Ill. Mar. 31, 2011) (court order sua
sponte severing all but one Doe defendant, finding that “merely committing the same type of
violation in the same way does not link defendants together for purposes of joinder”); Pacific
Century Int’l, Inc. v. Does 1-101, No. C-11-02533, 2011 WL 2690142, at *4 (N.D. Cal. July 8,
2011) (Rule 20(a)(2) joinder was improper because “the only commonality between copyright
infringers of the same work is that each commit[ted] the exact same violation of the law in
exactly the same way”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Millennium TGA, Inc. v.
Does 1-21, No. 11-2258, 2011 WL 1812786, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 12, 2011) (finding Rule
20(a)(2) joinder of the Doe defendants impermissible because “the Doe [d]efendants’ individual
and separate alleged reproductions of Plaintiff’s Work – which occurred over the span of twenty
days – do not satisfy [the Rule 20(a)(2)] requirement.”)); Hard Drive Prods., Inc. v. Does 1-130,
No. C-11-3826, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132449, at *9 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 16, 2011) (dismissing
Does 2-130 and imposing ongoing obligations upon plaintiff and its counsel to demonstrate that
the discovery sought of Doe 1 is used for a proper purpose); Liberty Media Holdings, LLC v.
BitTorrent Swarm, No. 11-cv-21525, 2011 WL 5190048, at *2-4 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 1, 2011) (the
court sua sponte found joinder of multiple Doe defendants improper under Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)
and dismissed the claims against all but a single defendant); On the Cheap, LLC, 2011 U.S. Dist.
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LEXIS 99831, at *16-17 & n.6 (disapproving the use of mass actions and noting abusive
settlement tactics); Digital Sin, Inc. v. Doe, No. C 11-04397, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128033, at
*9 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 4, 2011) (citing other similar cases). In fact, counsel for Plaintiff must be
aware of the Hard Drive, Boy Racer, Pacific Century, Millennium and McGIP 8 cases, given that
its firm (or the firm that merged with its firm) represented the plaintiff in each of those cases.9
Comcast recognized that this Court’s decision in Call of the Wild, 770 F. Supp. 2d 332,
reached a different conclusion – i.e., that it was premature at the pleading stage to consider
misjoinder.10 Magistrate Judge Kay heard argument and, while not cited in the Order, was
apparently persuaded by it when granting the motion to compel while not even considering Nu-
Image. Comcast and other ISPs have asked Judge Howell, the author of the Call of the Wild
opinion to revisit the issues surrounding early and massive discovery of Doe Defendants in the
mass copyright infringement litigation in AF Holdings LLC v. Does 1-1,058, Case No. 1:12-cv-
00048 (D.D.C.) (hearing held April 27, 2012 on motions to quash and compel, taken under
advisement). Given the multitude of mass Doe actions filed by Plaintiff’s counsel throughout the
country (discussed below), Comcast respectfully suggests that this Court should at least revisit
the conclusion in that case before allowing the Subpoena here to be enforced. As the court
pointed out in the McGIP case, Plaintiff’s strategy in filing these cases
8 McGIP, LLC v. Does 1-149, No. C 11-02331, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108109 (N.D. Cal.
Sept. 16, 2011).
9 The existence of these, and other, unfavorable decisions suggests that such plaintiffs appear to
be engaged in forum shopping – i.e., selecting venues based on an assessment of where they are
likely to obtain the largest amount of subscriber information with the least judicial resistance.
(See, infra, Section D).
10 See also Voltage Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-5000, No. 10-0873, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50787,
at *42 (D.D.C. May 12, 2011) (noting that “[c]ourts have varying thresholds for the exercise of
their discretion to sever defendants in such cases”).
Case 1:12-mc-00150-ESH-AK Document 16 Filed 05/02/12 Page 15 of 19
effectively precludes consideration of joinder issues at a later point
in the proceedings. By not naming or serving a single defendant,
[Plaintiff] ensures that this case will not progress beyond its infant
stages and therefore, the court will never have the opportunity to
evaluate joinder. Deferring a ruling on joinder, then, would
“encourage [p]laintiffs … to join (or misjoin) as many doe
defendants as possible….”
McGIP, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108109, at *8 (quoting Arista Records, LLC v. Does, No. 07-
CV-2828, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90183, at *17 (N.D. Ohio Nov. 3, 2008)) (alterations in
Indeed, in another case brought by Plaintiff’s counsel pending in the Northern District of
California, the court issued an order to show cause requiring Plaintiff’s lawyers to file a
declaration listing the cases it has pending in federal court and the number of defendants who
had actually been served in each case. Attached as Exhibit 1 to Comcast’s Opposition was a true
and correct copy of the January 19, 2012 Order. (Dkt. 7-1, Ex. 1 to Opp. to Mot. to Compel). In
response, Plaintiff’s counsel declared that in none of the 118 federal actions filed during the last
two years by the Prenda law firm (or its predecessors) has a single Defendant been served.11
Attached as Exhibit 2 to Comcast’s Opposition was a true and correct copy of the Declaration of
Charles E. Piehl dated February 24, 2012, along with the listing of cases filed where not a single
Doe defendant has been served. (Dkt. 7-2, Ex. 2 to Opp. to Mot. to Compel). This confirms that
“plaintiffs have used the offices of the Court as an inexpensive means to gain the Doe
11 The Court ordered Plaintiff’s counsel to disclose “a list of the BitTorrent copyright
infringement cases involving multiple joined John Doe Defendants filed [by] Plaintiff’s
counsel’s law firm or predecessor firm in federal court.” (Emphasis added.) Plaintiff’s counsel
took the judge’s Order quite literally and disclosed only those cases in which more than one Doe
defendant had been named in the complaint. Plaintiff’s counsel did not disclose the numerous
other cases (approximately 60) it has also filed in various federal courts, in which only one Doe
is named as a defendant, but where discovery of alleged “co-conspirators” is sought in the same
manner as the “multiple joined” Doe defendant cases. Plaintiff’s counsel’s Doe-plus-co-
conspirator approach is just one of its latest tactics to test the judicial waters for obtaining
Case 1:12-mc-00150-ESH-AK Document 16 Filed 05/02/12 Page 16 of 19
defendants’ personal information and coerce payment from them.”12 K-Beech, Inc. v. Does 1-85,
No. 11-CV-00469, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124581, at *7 (E.D. Va. Oct. 5, 2011).13 These facts
weigh heavily in favor of addressing compliance with Rule 20 at the outset. E.g., McGIP, supra,
at *10 (in these specific circumstances, a threshold evaluation of joinder “is critical to ensuring
compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
”); Boy Racer, Inc. v. Does 2-52, No. 11-
2834 [Doc. No. 12], (N.D. Cal.) at 2 (“[B]efore allowing expedited discovery to uncover the
identity of unnamed defendants, the district courts of this circuit must determine whether [joinder
is justified].”). For these additional reasons, Magistrate Judge Kay Order should be set aside.
The Judge Erred By Failing to Reassign This Matter to Judge Robert L.
Wilkins, Pursuant to Local Rule 40.5
As shown in Comcast’s Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel (Dkt. 7) and
Comcast’s Notice of Related Case and Request for Reassignment (Dkt. 8), Court records
demonstrate that, before the complaint in Millennium TGA II was filed, Plaintiff had previously
filed in this Court a substantially identical complaint involving the same parties, facts and
claims. Plaintiff filed Millennium TGA I, (Millennium TGA v. Does 1-939, No. 1:11-cv-02176-
RLW), on December 7, 2011. Once that action was assigned to Judge Wilkins, Plaintiff
voluntarily dismissed the action on December 16, 2011. (See See Dkt. 8-1, Millennium TGA I
12 In a separate action involving K-Beech, Inc. as a plaintiff, one of the defendants asserted a
counterclaim alleging that the plaintiff intentionally placed its work on a BitTorrent server and
allowed the BitTorrent swarm to continue for the sole purpose of logging IP addresses in order to
coerce users to settle copyright infringement claims. K-Beech, Inc. v. Marc Puskas et al., No.
11-cv-01601, Counterclaim [Doc. No. 12], (D. Ariz. Feb. 29, 2012).
13 In yet another similar action, in an order denying counsel proposed discovery, a federal judge
remarked that, “[i]f plaintiff and [plaintiff’s counsel, different from this case] had displayed the
slightest degree of candor with the court, they would have disclosed to the court in their motion
for leave [to take expedited discovery] that judges in this district had raised serious questions
concerning the propriety of the filing of actions such as this and the discovery techniques
employed by Stone and his clients in all, or a large number, of the suits they filed in the Dallas
Division.” Well Go USA, Inc. v. Does, No. 4:11cv00554A (N.D. Tex. Sept. 28, 2011) (Order)
Case 1:12-mc-00150-ESH-AK Document 16 Filed 05/02/12 Page 17 of 19
Pacer Docket Sheet).. Plaintiff then re-filed the same claim in the Southern District of Texas.
The only change Plaintiff made to the re-filed complaint was to caption the case in Texas as
against one Doe, but seek discovery of the other 938 by way of multiple subpoenas to the ISPs.
The complaints pertain to the same movie and a comparison of the IP addresses shows the same
dates and times in both complaints.
The reason for voluntarily dismissing the earlier complaint assigned to Judge Wilkins is
absolutely clear: In June 2011, Judge Wilkins denied a copyright infringement plaintiff’s motion
for an ex parte discovery order. Nu Image, Inc. v. Does 1-23,322, 799 F. Supp. 2d 34 (D.D.C.
2011); see, supra, Section B (discussing Nu Image). It seems beyond question that, in light of
the Nu Image order, once the initial complaint was assigned to Judge Wilkins, Plaintiff’s counsel
found no point in pursuing it any further.
Filing complaints in multiple jurisdictions, and then serving subpoenas in different
jurisdictions, seems only designed to maximize the opportunities to gain discovery with least
resistance. The burdens on the judicial system and litigants (as well as third-parties) caused by
forum shopping or avoidance of this type are well-recognized. Abex Corp. v. Maryland Cas.
Co., 790 F.2d 119, 125 (D.C. Cir. 1986); see also Eisel v. Secretary of Army, 477 F.2d 1251,
1263 (D.C. Cir. 1973) (“If one were permitted to establish jurisdiction by merely being before
the court, a petitioner could select any forum he wished; this would be forum shopping in its
most extreme form.”). Indeed, as the Northern District of Illinois recently observed: “In addition
to the procedural improprieties outlined above, the plaintiffs’ tactics deny the federal courts
additional revenue from filing fees in the suits that should be filed to obtain the information the
plaintiffs desire.” Pacific Century Int’l, LTD. v. John Does 1-37, et al., 2012 WL 1072312, at
*11 n.15 (citing and quoting CP Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-300, 2011 WL 737761 (N.D.Ill. Feb.
Case 1:12-mc-00150-ESH-AK Document 16 Filed 05/02/12 Page 18 of 19
24, 2011), which found “No predicate has been shown for thus combining 300 separate actions
on the cheap – if CP had sued the 300 claimed infringers separately for their discrete
infringements, the filing fees alone would have aggregated $105,000 rather than $350.”))
Given this abuse of the judicial and discovery process, Magistrate Judge Kay’s Order
should be set aside.
For the foregoing reasons, Comcast respectfully requests that this Court set aside the
Magistrate Judge’s order and deny Plaintiff’s motion to compel enforcement of the Subpoena
served on Comcast.
Dated: May 2, 2012
/s/ John D. Seiver
John D. Seiver
Leslie G. Moylan
Lisa B. Zycherman
DAVIS WRIGHT TREMAINE LLP
1919 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
Counsel for Non-Party Comcast Cable
Communications Management, LLC
Case 1:12-mc-00150-ESH-AK Document 16 Filed 05/02/12 Page 19 of 19
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY CERTIFY that on this 2nd day of May 2012, true and correct copies of the
foregoing document was served via ECF upon all counsel of record:
Paul A. Duffy
John L. Steele (pro hac vice)
PRENDA LAW INC.
161 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60601
Fax: (312) 893-5677
Email: [email protected]
/s/ John D. Seiver
John D. Seiver