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Venice PI, LLC v. Doe

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

September 7, 2017

VENICE PI, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DOE 1, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Leave to Take Discovery Prior to Rule 26(f) Conference [DE 5], filed by Plaintiff on September 6, 2017. Plaintiff requests leave to issue subpoenas to non-party internet service providers to determine the identity of the Doe Defendants in this case.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed its Complaint on August 31, 2017, alleging copyright infringement claims against sixteen Doe Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that the Doe Defendants violated Plaintiff's copyright by downloading and sharing unauthorized copies of Once Upon a Time in Venice, a movie in which Plaintiff maintains a copyright interest. At this time, the only information Plaintiff has about the Doe Defendants is their Internet Protocol (IP) address, as well as the city in which the alleged infringement occurred. Accordingly, Plaintiff now seeks to subpoena records from various internet service providers (ISPs) to connect the IP addresses with the Doe Defendants' actual identities.

         II. Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally prohibit discovery from occurring before the parties conduct a Rule 26(f) conference, unless the Court enters an order allowing early discovery for “good cause.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d)(1); Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. v. FDIC, 283 F.R.D. 556, 557 (N.D. Iowa 2012). Courts consider the following five factors to determine whether there is good cause for early discovery aimed at internet service providers to uncover internet users' identities:

(1) [A] concrete showing of a prima facie claim; (2) a specific discovery request; (3) the absence of alternative means to obtain the subpoenaed information; (4) the need for the subpoenaed information to advance the claim; and (5) a minimal expectation of privacy by the defendant in the requested information.

Rotten Records, Inc. v. Doe, 108 F.Supp.3d 132, 133 (W.D.N.Y. 2015); see also First Time Videos, LLC v. Does 1-500, 276 F.R.D. 241, 248-49 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (quoting Sony Music Entm't v. Does 1-40, 326 F.Supp.2d 556, 564-65 (S.D.N.Y. 2004)).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff meets these requirements. First, Plaintiff has made a prima facie claim of copyright infringement, which consists of two elements: (1) ownership of a valid copyright and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original. Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., Inc., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991). Plaintiff alleges that it maintains a copyright interest in Once Upon a Time in Venice and that the Doe Defendants copied and distributed Once Upon a Time in Venice. Second, Plaintiff has identified specific discovery, limited to identifying the Doe Defendants through their internet service providers. Third, Plaintiff does not have an alternative means to match the ISP addresses with the Doe Defendants' identities.

         Fourth, Plaintiff needs the information it seeks to advance its asserted claims. Indeed, without discovering the Doe Defendants' identities, Plaintiff cannot pursue its claims for relief at all. Finally, Plaintiff's interest in learning the Doe Defendants' true identities outweighs the Doe Defendants' privacy interest in sharing copyrighted work through an online file-sharing network. See Rotten Records, 108 F.Supp.3d at 133 (quoting Arista Records, LLC v. Doe, 604 F.3d 110, 124 (2d Cir. 2010)).

         In sum, Plaintiff has shown good cause for the requested discovery, and early discovery is appropriate. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d)(1); Progressive, 283 F.R.D. at 557.

         IV. Conclusion

         For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby GRANTS the Motion for Leave to Take Discovery Prior to Rule ...


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