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Court orders P2P users to be sued individually

Written by Jari Ketola @ 08 Mar 2004 13:20 User comments (7)

Court orders P2P users to be sued individually Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released an update on the proceedings in the legal fight regarding the mass lawsuit against individuals accused of file sharing. EFF, Public Citizen, and the American Civil Liberties Union argue that an individual, detailed lawsuit must be filed against each defendant instead of joining all the "John Does" in a single lawsuit.
The following is the complete, unedited press release from EFF.

Here is a brief update on some of the cases in which Public Citizen, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union and its local affiliates have filed amicus briefs arguing that persons accused of file sharing should be accorded minimal due process rights before subpoenas are authorized to identify them. We have just received rulings in two of the cases, one which accepts our argument that the record companies should have to file separate lawsuits against the individual filesharers rather than lump them all into a single case as they have done, and the other which found our arguments helpful, but premature.

In the case filed in Philadelphia against 203 Doe defendants whose Internet Service Provider is Comcast (BMG Music v Does 1-203), Judge Clarence Newcomer agreed with at least part of the legal arguments we raised. He agreed that it was improper to join all 203 defendants in a single lawsuit, and ordered the music companies to file separate complaints against each of the Doe defendants, paying a full filing fee for each case, for a total of about $30,000, and making individualized allegations against each defendant. Judge Newcomer retained the case against Doe #1, one of the three defendants about whom the music companies had provided detailed evidence (more than a hundred pages, each listing many songs made available for download), and authorized the issuance of a subpoena for that individual's identity only.

Although Judge Newcomer left it to the discretion of each judge to which the 202 new complaints would be assigned to decide how to handle discovery, it would seem that in each case, the plaintiffs will need an affidavit making the proper showing about that individual defendant. Defendants will presumably need to decide, in each case, whether they can allege that filing in Philadelphia is appropriate.

In the case filed in Atlanta against 252 Doe defendants whose Internet Service Provider is Cox Communications, (Motown Record Co. v. Does 1-252), Judge Willis Hunt authorized a subpoena, and required that Cox be allowed a full twenty five days before compliance with the subpoena, so that the subscribers could have extra time to object to identification if they so desired. However, the Court declined to consider the constitutional issue that amici raised on the grounds that they were premature and could be raised by the Defendants (and amici at that time) once the Defendants have been notified that their identities are being sought.

The judges who are hearing Virgin Records v. Does 1-44 (filed in Atlanta seeking to subpoena the identity of alleged filesharers whose ISP is Earthlink), and BMI Recordings v. Does 1-199 (filed in Washington, DC against Doe defendants whose ISP is Verizon), are still considering the issues presented by the motions and by amici.


Key court records for all of these cases, including the complaints and amicus briefs
Listing of all the IP addresses sought by the record industry


Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Paul Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group
About Public Citizen:

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that has a history of defending free speech on the Internet. The organization's website is at
About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world at

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7 user comments

18.3.2004 14:56

Ahhhh.... A bit of good news for a change! A big THANK YOU to the EFF for all their excellent work! I think I might need to buy one of the groovy EFF hats or maybe a t-shirt...

29.3.2004 5:32

I salute the EFF. Best to All! Rodgers

39.3.2004 13:24

THank you EFF! knowledge is power, spread the power!

49.3.2004 21:11

yeah cheers EFF a glad there are ppl in our corner:)

::LivE ForeveR OR DiE TryiN!!::....::DonT FinD US WE WilL FinD YoU::..
ChecK OuT ThE PenguiN GamE AnD PosT YouR HighesT DistancE ON ThE ForuM

511.3.2004 5:38

finally an organization that sticks up for us lil guys :)

614.3.2004 18:11

All i got to say is thank you EFF!

727.3.2004 17:21

Well,everyone should be able to see that Comcast,Earthlink,and Verizon will betray your rights to privacy.They all should be boycotted.

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