February 16, 2011 | By Corynne McSherry

Don't Mess With Texas Continued: Thousands of Defendants Severed

When we said that Texas was no place to file suit if you want to bypass due process, we weren't kidding. Senior federal judge Royal Furgeson has "severed" thousands of Does in these and several other cases. (see below for sample order). Judge Furgeson is the same judge that ordered the plaintiffs in five cases to explain why the court should not appoint attorneys to represent the Does' interests.

In essence, these rulings mean that the plaintiff in each case must re-file against each Doe defendant individually, rather than attempting to sue hundreds (or thousands) of Does at once, something that may make these cases less lucrative for the lawyers hoping to turn copyright trolling into a business model.

This is the latest court to accept the joinder argument EFF -- along with the ACLU and Public Citizen in some cases -- pioneered in multiple cases across the country (D.C.,West Virginia Illinois, and Texas).

The argument is that the fact that hundreds of defendants happened to allegedly download the same movie with the same software is no basis for lumping them together in the same lawsuit. Citing one of recent decisions by a West Virginia federal court, Judge Furgeson affirmed that "merely committing the same type of violation in the same way does not link defendants together for purposes of joinder." Quite right.

Kudos to Judge Furgeson for refusing to allow the plaintiffs to bypass basic due process rights and helping to ensure the judicial process is fair for everyone involved.


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