Northern California - A federal judge in California has put a roadblock in front of the movie studios' lawsuits targeting filesharers.
Last week, members of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed eleven lawsuits against hundreds of people they accused of using file-sharing networks to share infringing copies of movies. They sued groups of "Does"
identified by numerical IP address and requested discovery of names from the users' ISPs. A Northern District of California judge found this bulldozer process improper, ordering the case to be put on hold for all but one of the defendants.
Judge William Alsup ruled that because claims against the 12 defendants were unrelated, yoking the defendants together into one big case was improper. "Such joinder may be an attempt to circumvent the filing fees by grouping
defendants into arbitrarily-joined actions but it could nonetheless appear improper under Rule 20," the order states. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed friend-of-the-court briefs objecting to similar misjoinder in many of the cases filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against alleged infringers.
"This decision helps to give due process rights to the Internet users accused of infringement," said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "Lumping them together makes it more difficult for everyone to defend against these claims." EFF is also concerned about the movie studios' failure to produce evidence of infringement against even Doe #1 in this case.
Electronic Frontier Foundation