Judge Reconsiders Allowing US Copyright Group To Shake Down 23,322 People Over Potential Expendables Infringement
from the not-so-fast dept
We recently noted that a judge in one of the biggest mass copyright infringement lawsuits ever filed, representing 23,322 potential infringers of the movie The Expendables, had allowed the lawyers at US Copyright Group to issue subpoenas on those people in order to properly serve them with the lawsuit. However, it appears the judge is reconsidering — perhaps because lots of people have since raised the point that these efforts often appear more like a shakedown than any legitimate lawsuit, and the judge has taken notice. After saying that “several issues… have recently come to light regarding this case”, he goes on to berate US Copyright Group lawyers for failing to have served a single person out of the 23,322.
The judge also seems to have discovered (a bit late, but better late than never) the jurisdictional issue that most other judges who have been dealing with these cases have noted, in that the vast majority of those sued almost certainly do not live in the region of the DC district court, and this troubles the court:
The Court hereby ORDERS Plaintiff, if it intends to pursue the previously filed motion for expedited discovery, to show cause as to why venue and joinder is proper for all 23,322 putative defendants in this case. Alternatively, Plaintiff may seek leave to amend its complaint to name a certain subset of defendants and file a new motion for expedited discovery, addressing both legally and factually why venue and joinder is proper as to each defendant, and how Plaintiff intends to establish the same. In either case, Plaintiff shall submit a proposed discovery plan that: 1) sets forth a time certain for which it seeks to pursue non-party discovery on an expedited basis; and 2) outlines how Plaintiff intends to serve each defendant within 120 days of filing the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 4(m) or proposes any extensions Plaintiff may seek in order to effectuate service on all named defendants.
Read through the whole order. This is a judge who is not amused. This statement being the key one:
The Court finds it inappropriate and a waste of scarce judicial resources to allow and oversee discovery on claims or relating to defendants that cannot be prosecuted in this lawsuit.
It seems that more and more judges are beginning to recognize these cases for what they really are. Attempts to use the court system as a threat-based business model, rather than as a venue for resolving actual legal issues.