Indianapolis, IN – Several anonymous letters have been sent to the Southern District of Indiana regarding the Hard Drive Productions Copyright infringement case, all opposing any discovery attempts in the case that might reveal the identities of persons alleged to have illegally downloaded pornographic videos. Intellectual Property Law News has reported recently on three copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the Southern District of Indiana involving file sharing of adult entertainment videos via BitTorrent: the Hard Drive Productions case, the Boy Racer case and the First Time Videos case.
In an unusual procedural move, three anonymous letters, signed “John Doe,” were sent to the Court to protest the lawsuit and pre-emptively attack potential discovery efforts by the plaintiff that might reveal the identities of the “John Does,” who are accused of illegally sharing adult videos using BitTorrent. The first letter calls the case “wrongful harassment of internet subscribers” and states “Mr. Steele and lawyers attempting to the same scheme of intimidation will eventually be in contact with me to demand several thousand dollars not to sue ME for downloading this pornography file if Your court permits subpoena[.]” It points out the ease at which I.P. addresses could be forged and that wireless internet service can be used by a person other than the owner of the I.P. address, a concern that has been reported in Time Magazine.
A second letter points out to the court that in another similar case, discovery requests were denied by the Central District Court of Illinois and the Northern District of California. One court order attached to the letter says “The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber’s household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment.”
Hard Drive filed a response to one of the letters, stating: “The Court is fully capable of protecting each defendant’s due process rights and ascertaining the quality of evidence presented at this proceeding. The anonymous letter expresses fear to the contrary, but these fears are not a good justification for curtailing discovery of the identities of those who have conspired to pirate copyrighted material.”
Practice Tips: We note the letters were sent from anonymous “John Does.” Had the writers identified themselves, they would have opened themselves to service of process and risked giving up several defenses including personal jurisdiction, which is an issue raised by one letter.
Judge Sarah Evans Barkerand Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann have yet to make any rulings in the case.