N.Y. Magistrate Judge Tosses 4 Porn BitTorrent Suits

Rhett Pardon

NEW YORK — Another federal judge has ruled against a number of adult companies seeking to hold John Doe defendants on the hook for alleged copyright infringement via BitTorrent networks.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Brown last week recommended dismissing more than 80 defendants in four porn BitTorrent suits brought on by adult studios K-Beech, Malibu Media and Elegant Angel. Brown said all of the defendants, with the exception of one Doe per suit, should be dismissed.

Brown characterized the four suits involving the Doe defendants as "part of a nationwide blizzard of civil actions brought by purveyors of  pornographic films" and that there are more similar suits — 19 — currently on the docket in his jurisdiction.  

In the consolidated case, Brown said that nearly a half-dozen defendants have raised a panoply of individual defenses, including age, religious convictions, and technological savvy; misidentification of ISP accounts; the kinds of Wi-Fi equipment and security software utilized; and the location of defendant’s router. 

"The individualized determinations required far outweigh the common questions in terms of discovery, evidence and effort required," Brown said. "Thus, swarm joinder complicates these actions, resulting in waste of judicial resources."              

Brown further said that despite the fact that the three studios tout that “joinder in BitTorrent copyright infringement cases has been thoroughly analyzed in 40 reported opinions and has been permitted in district courts across the country,” many of the courts might not have had the resources to make solid legal opinions.

"[D]ue to plaintiffs’ litigation strategy, which includes avoiding review on the merits except at a preliminary, ex parte stage, these determinations were made without any factual record by judges unaware of the highly individualized, fact-specific defenses raised on the motions to quash, or evidence of strong-arm tactics, both of which strongly militate against allowing joinder in these mass actions," Brown said.

Brown also cited "abusive litigations tactics to extract settlements from John Doe defendants" in his reasoning to disallow discovery proceedings by the three studios that have sued for copyright infringement involving the movies "Gang Bang Virgins," "Veronica Wet Orgasm," "Maryjane Young Love" and "Gangbanged."

So far, magistrate judges in California and Illinois have made the same conclusion as Brown's. Brown gave plaintiffs attorneys from the three adult studios until May 15 to object to his order.

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