Perhaps lost in the shuffle of some other recent decisions also reigning in copyright troll abuse, is this very important order from New Jersey which is particularly instructive as to the issue of what happens (or, what should happen) in a John Doe No. 1, or a single John Doe case.
Joining the camp of Judge Klausner of the Central District of California who also denied early discovery even as to John Doe No. 1, and Judge Wright, also of C.D. Cal., who has vacated subpoenas pending a detailed plan from the plaintiff, Judge Mark Falk hit the nail on the head in Third Degree Films v. John Does 1-110, D. NJ No. 2:12-cv-5817, ECF No. 7, 1/17/13. A copy of the whole Order is here.
Note in particular this passage:
“Second, the motion as to John Doe 1 is also denied without prejudice. Plaintiff fails to define John Does 1-110 in its complaint other than to state that “[e]ach Defendant is known to Plaintiff only by an IP address.” (Comp. ¶ 2.) In some instances, the IP subscriber and the John Doe defendant may not be the same individual. Indeed, the infringer might be someone other than the subscriber; for instance, someone in the subscriber’s household, a visitor to the subscriber’s home or even someone in the vicinity that gains access to the network. See VPR Internationale v. Does 1-1017, No. 11-2068, 2011 WL 8179128 (C.D.Ill. Apr. 29, 2011). As a result, Plaintiff’s sought after discovery has the potential to ensnare numerous innocent internet users into the litigation placing a burden on them that outweighs Plaintiff’s need for discovery as framed.
Granting Plaintiff’s motion has the potential to permit Plaintiff to obtain detailed personal information of innocent individuals. This could subject an innocent individual toan unjustified burden.
The Court recognizes the challenge faced by Plaintiff to identify Defendant in order to serve the complaint. The Court will permit Plaintiff to submit a new motion for expedited discovery as to John Doe 1 (1) setting forth a detailed plan that addresses the Court’s concern regarding potentially innocent indiviuals, as expressed in this Order. Any such motion should include how Plaintiff intends to utilize the name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and Media Access Control address of any IP subscriber if obtained, and (2) adequately providing sufficient legal support for the application, particularly with regards to the concerns raised in In re Bittorrent, 2012 WL 1570765.
SO ORDERED.” (emphasis added).