United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Leave to Take
Discovery Prior to Rule 26(f) Conference [DE 6], 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.
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.
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
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)).
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'
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
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.
foregoing reasons, the Court hereby GRANTS
the Motion for Leave to Take Discovery Prior to Rule ...