Monday, May 13, 2013

Subpoenas Being Quashed in Seattle

If you are one of the unlucky ones here in Seattle to have received a letter from your ISP accusing you of copyright infringement, then you should be aware that the Court has started staying all those cases pending some explanation by the plaintiffs about why so many Does have been joined in one action.

The Court has been issuing Orders to Show Cause why the cases should not be severed, and has included some interesting language:
All BitTorrent cases filed in the Western District of Washington have been referred to [Judge Lasnik] for pretrial handling. As the full extent of this assignment has become clear, the Court admits to some concerns regarding both the appropriateness of joinder and the possibility that the judicial authority of the United States may be used to wrest improvident settlements from pro se litigants under threat of huge statutory penalties. The Court is not alone: other judicial officers in the Ninth Circuit are beset by the same concerns and have taken various paths to mitigate the potential for abuse. See, e.g., Ingenuity 13 LLC v. John Doe, No. 2:12-cv-9333-ODW(JCx) (C.D. Cal. May 6, 2013); Voltage Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-12, No. 2:13-292-AA (D. Or. May 4, 2013).

So when the first case cited by the judge in his order quashing the subpoenas and staying the case is the Prenda law sanctions order, you better take notice. 

Understand this does not mean all those cases have been dismissed. Not at all. In fact, quite the opposite. The judge stayed the cases and has asked the plaintiffs to demonstrate why they shouldn't be dismissed as to all the Does except one.  So even if the judge does what it appears he is likely to do, there will still be one defendant in each case and the plaintiffs will be free to re-file new individual cases against all the other defendants--all 2300 of them. Unlikely that will happen, but still a possibility.

So if you want to find out the status of your particular case, you can start with my list of Seattle copyright cases and check that. I'm trying to keep that up to date, but I can't guarantee that it is. There are a lot of cases to keep track of.