Mass P2P Porn Lawyer Tries Filing A Class Action Lawsuit... In Reverse

from the against-the-class? dept

Wow. We've noted that the various lawyers who have jumped on the mass copyright infringement shakedown bandwagon (mostly for clients in the porn business) have been running into some serious problems on the issue of "joinder" -- tying all of those defendants into a single group. You're only supposed to be able to do that if they were all involved together in breaking the law. So far, the courts haven't been buying it for the most part. However, it appears one of the lawyers involved in these cases, John Steele, is trying a bit of a novel strategy: a class action lawsuit in reverse.

Normally, a class action lawsuit involves a "class" of related people as the plaintiffs. Steele is arguing that you can lump all of the defendants into a class as well:
This Court has personal jurisdiction over the Class because the putative named class representative Defendants are residents of Illinois. This Court has in personam jurisdiction over absent class members because due process is satisfied by providing them with best practicable notice, an opportunity to opt-out, and adequate representation. In addition, the Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over individual Defendants because their infringing activity should have reasonably been anticipated to violate the Copyright Act in this jurisdiction. Therefore, due process is satisfied because any person engaged in such activity could reasonably anticipate being haled into this jurisdiction where he or she violated the Copyright Act.
Now, there have been a few examples of such defendant class action lawsuits in the past, but they're very rare, and usually require a pretty damn good reason. I'd be surprised if the judge grants it here. As in other cases like this, judges have pointed out that the mass group of defendants sued are not really comparable, as they each may have extremely different defenses, and were not really connected to each other in any way at all.

On a totally separate note, what is it with the lawyers bringing these mass P2P porn cases all having names out of some bad novel? Evan Stone. John Steele. Ken Ford. Is there some rule that you need a forceful, single syllable last name to be one of these lawyers?

Filed Under: class action, defendant class action, file sharing, john steele, p2p, pre-settlement, reverse class action


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  1. icon
    average_joe (profile), 7 Feb 2011 @ 7:47am

    I'm taking a seminar class this semester in complex litigation/class actions. I had a conversation a couple weeks ago with my professor about the possibility of using a defendant class action to go after infringers... And here we've got one. I'm excited to show my prof the complaint to see what he thinks.

    I actually don't think this is such a bad idea. I think it's fairly simple to establish the elements of the class under Rule 23(a) (numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy) and 23(b)(3) (questions of law and fact predominate over class). Such a class promotes judicial economy, and it also promotes uniformity of adjudication. The arguments for it are pretty strong, IMO.

    And for those who wish to mount their own defense, they can opt out of the class and do that if they wish. I doubt many people would actually do that though, since the cost would be really prohibitive.

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