For the latest round of RIAA lawsuits against alleged file sharers, they tried to lump over 200 in a single suit. A federal judge said no on Friday:
- The Recording Industry Association of America grouped 203 so-called "John Doe" defendants — "John Doe" because their identities are not yet known — into one lawsuit when it sued them in federal court in Philadelphia last month. All of those sued use Comcast as their Internet service provider.
Since a federal court barred the RIAA from using the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to subpoena names of suspected copyright infringers in December, the recording industry has resorted to the "John Doe" method. The RIAA now must identify alleged file swappers by their Internet Protocol addresses, but does not know the individuals' names.
On Friday, Judge Clarence Newcomer authorized a subpoena in the case of John Doe No. 1, because the RIAA had submitted a detailed case against the individual. But the judge ordered the music industry to file separate suits against the remaining 202 alleged infringers.
Each of the lawsuits will be doled out to judges in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the RIAA will have to make separate requests to seek the identity of each alleged file sharer.
"We're glad the judge has recognized that the RIAA was trying to skirt around the regular rules for lawsuits by grouping over 200 individuals as a gang of file sharers," said Jason Schultz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the case. "We think each individual who is being sued has a right to have their own trial and have their own privacy interests evaluated independently of anyone else who's being sued."
....The music trade group must pay court fees for each of these cases. Filing each lawsuit will cost $150 in court fees, for a total of over $30,000, according to the EFF.
The RIAA would not say what it plans to do.
"We are weighing our options," said RIAA spokeswoman Amanda Collins. She declined to elaborate. [Wired]
Again the RIAA's attempts to skirt normal procedure in an effort to save themselves time and money and to exert more pressure on the accused has been thwarted by the courts.