Mick Haig Productions v. Does 1-670

On September 21, 2010, Mick Haig Productions -- producer of the adult film Der Gute Onkel -- filed a copyright infringement suit in federal court against 670 anonymous alleged BitTorrent file sharers. On September 30, 2010, the Plaintiff filed a motion for expedited discovery in order to obtain permission to subpoena the ISPs of the accused file sharers. On October 21, 2010, the court instead ordered the ISPs in question to preserve the subscriber information in question, and on October 25, 2010, the court further appointed EFF and Public Citizen to serve as counsel ad litem to represent the interests of the anonymous defendants regarding the discovery request.

Outcome: On January 28, 2011, after EFF and Public Citizen discovered that Evan Stone (the plaintiff's attorney) had issued subpoenas to the ISPs without court permission and brought the matter to his attention, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the action. EFF and Public Citizen subsequently filed a sanctions motion against Stone for improperly issuing subpoenas.

Update (September 9, 2011): Northern District of Texas District Court Judge David C. Godbey granted EFF's and Public Citizen's sanctions motion against Evan Stone, attorney for Mick Haig Productions, who improperly issued subpoenas to ISPs without court permission seeking the identities of alleged file sharers. The Court ordered Stone to, among other things, pay a sanction to the court of $10,000, pay EFF's and Public Citizen's attorney's fees, serve a copy of the court's order on every person or entity with whom he communicated for any purpose in the case, and file a copy of the order in every currently-ongoing proceeding in which he represents a party, pending in any court in the United States, federal or state.

Update (July 12, 2012): On July 12, 2012, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Godbey's sanctions order in full, holding that Stone had waived all of the arguments that he attempted to raise on appeal and that, in any event, "no miscarriage of justice will result from the sanctions imposed as a result of Stone’s flagrant violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the district court’s orders."

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