23,322 defendants were named in what, at the time of filing, was the largest file-sharing copyright infringement lawsuit ever. It was based on the accusation that those defendants illegally downloaded the movie The Expendables. However, at least for now, a vast majority of those defendants are free from the reach of the movie’s film studio (Nu Image), because the U.S. District Court of Columbia ruled that the defendants are not within the court’s jurisdiction. The judge stated that Nu Image could only make discovery requests related to John Does “for whom there is a good faith basis to believe may reside in the District of Columbia.” If a John Doe’s IP address is located in another district, that good faith basis is out the window.
The website TorrentFreak determined that only 84 John Does have IP addresses that are likely to be based in the District of Columbia. The many John Does who decided to wait on sending over their settlement checks can now breathe a sigh of relief. The film studios; however, cannot be pleased with the District Court of Columbia’s decision. If judges around the country decide to follow suit, studios will have to file various lawsuits all across the United States, which will cost a lot of time and money, and may not be worth it based on the somewhat small settlement checks they expect to receive.
Here is the money quote from the judge:
“The court understands why, for the sake of convenience and expense, the plaintiff would desire to use this single lawsuit as a vehicle to identify all of the 23,322 alleged infringers. Furthermore, the court understands and is sympathetic to the need to combat copyright infringement. However, it is not appropriate, and there is not good cause, to take third-party discovery in this case solely to obtain information that will be used in another lawsuit in a different venue.”