Mass defendant copyright infringement cases are not rare these days. Many movie studios (particularly adult entertainment companies) find it economical to attach a long list of John Doe defendants to their copyright infringement lawsuits. The procedure is typically the same. The company joins a bunch of Doe defendants, subpoenas the internet service provider(s) (ISP) to obtain the names, current and permanent addresses, telephone numbers, email addressees, and Media Access Control addresses (“MAC addresses”) of the Doe Defendants, some Doe Defendants may move to quash the subpoena, and a Doe may either fight it out in court or settle the claim pre-trial.
I have defended quite a few individuals who have been accused of copyright infringement. A common question that I receive is whether or not a motion to quash the subpoena to the ISP should be filed. I have written about these motions in the past. Today, I will address it again and shed some light as to why the motion to quash may find success in court.
A party or any person from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order in the court where the action is pending … The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including … forbidding the disclosure or discovery.
limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by [the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] or by local rule if it determines that … the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of discovery in resolving the issues.