Well the Judge ruled and I don’t think it was much of a surprise that he dismissed all but one of the defendants in the correct jurisdiction.
The judge (Bernard Zimmerman) did a great job of summarizing the case (3:10-cv-04472-BZ, ON THE CHEAP, LLC a California Corporation, Plaintiff(s) v. DOES 1-5011) and explaining the basis for his ruling. It is well worth reading! 5010 Does Released, 3:10-cv-04472-BZ
Some parts of the ruling in which I want to comment on:
YOUR EFFORTS. The Judge stated that after granting the plaintiff’s motion for expedited discovery (from the ISPs in question) the court started to receive multiple defendant motions to quash subpoenas due to “innocence, lack of personal jurisdiction, improper joinder, and improper venue.”
This shows that YOUR efforts to fight the copyright trolls are not in vain. Some of these motions are likely to have been filed by lawyers, but some were from John Does. Even if a judge decides not to accept/file your motion, memo, comments, etc., he can read and think for himself.
As stated by Judge Zimmerman, “A decision to sever may be made on the Court’s own motion or on a party’s motion.”
The points we bring up are valid and when intelligently presented, go a long way in educating the various Courts on what the copyright trolls are really up to. The judges can see what these guys are up to, we just need to keep educating everyone on the issues.
EFF SUPPORT. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) provided an Amicus Brief to the court. Thank you EFF! Your support in this matter and the other infringement cases is greatly appreciated.
IRA SIEGEL. Ira Siegel responded to the Judge Zimmerman’s show cause why this matter should not be dismissed for improper joinder and improper venue.
Thank you Ira for failing to adequately respond to the judge’s order. I do believe your failure was partially to avoid having to provide the court details you want to keep secret. How much money have you obtained from settling John Does? When that information becomes available, the statement of Judge Zimmerman concerning your apparent financially motivated actions will be validated and you will be shown for what you are.
The Judge highlighted Mr. Siegel’s actions of using the subpoenaed subscriber information from the Internet Service Providers (ISP), such as COMCAST –
“Instead, plaintiff appears to have used the information from the subpoena for a different purpose: to extract settlement from out-of-state defendants by notifying them that they have been sued in California, knowing that it is highly unlikely that many of them will be amenable to suit in California.”
“Plaintiff, well aware of the difficulties out-of-state and out-of-district defendants would face if required to appear in San Francisco, has nonetheless sent them settlement demands which apparently inform them that they have been sued in this District. The defendants are left with a decision to either accept plaintiff’s demand or incur significant expense to defend themselves in San Francisco or hire an attorney to do so.”
PERVERTING. OK so I got your attention now. In the final part of the ruling, Judge Zimmerman stated that the Court does not condone copyright infringement and encourages settlement of “genuine” disputes. He goes on to say that Plaintiff’s
“… desire to use the court in a cost-effective manner does not justify perverting the joinder rules to first create a management and logistical problem discussed above and then offer to settle with Doe defendants so they can avoid digging themselves out of the morass plaintiff is creating.”
NOTIFICATION. The judge ordered the plaintiff to notify all defendants except #17 that they have been served from the current case. Plaintiff is required to notify each defendant they have an address for (by 1st Class Mail) and to also provide them a copy of the order. He has to do this by 23 Sep 2011. Even if Mr. Siegel only has addresses for 75% of the Does (say 3758 Does), that 1st Class stamp and envelope is going to add up. 3758 X .44 = $1653.52. Not great, but it is a start. I wonder what the John Does that settled will think of the notification? It will probably be like pouring salt on an open wounds.
Yes Mr. Siegel can still refile in the proper jurisdictions, as the statue of limitations has not expired yet. I would say it is still unlikely that he will do this, as this case now has some nasty baggage attached to it thanks to this order. The judge gave the plaintiff until 7 Oct 2011, to amend its complaint and serve Doe #17, if they wish to proceed with its claim against the defendant.
I think it would be a riot if Doe#17 waited for plaintiff to file and then made a motion to dismiss due to not being served within 120 days! They can refile, but at least it ties them up for a little bit.
There is more to come in all the remaining John Does cases, but this one now gives support to the other cases. The judges in the other jurisdictions will make their own decisions, but Judge Zimmerman ruling was sound and does not appear prejudice in his writing. If plaintiff doesn’t try to answer or address the issues in this order, as well as the previous one, he and other copyright trolls are at a disadvantage. Congrats to all the severed John Does. Congrats, but it is not over yet.