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John Does Win Big In Far Cry Case
November 19, 2010
Thomas Mennecke
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The copyright trolling campaign in the United States may not be coming to a grinding halt, but it looks like it may come to a sluggish crawl. In an order issued today in the Achte/Neunte (aka Far Cry) vs Does 1-4,577 case - Judge Rosemary Collyer granted and denied in part the US Copyright Group's request for an extension to serve all defendants to five years.

As you'll recall, Time Warner and the USCG agreed to identify only 28 IP addresses a month (between this case and the West Bay One case) - a time consuming process that could take almost 5 years. So, not only does the USCG want to sue all the Does in one location, they'll like to sit on all those IP addresses for five years as well, and deal with them at their convenience. From yesterday's motion from the USCG:

"...Plaintiff requests that the court extend the time by which Plaintiff must name and serve the Defendants in this case to a reasonable time after Plaintiff has received all of the identifying information for all Defendants."

Judge Collyer wasn't going to have anything to do with it. In today's order, the first real defeat was handed to the USCG:

"The request is patently unfair and prejudicial to all John Does who have been identified by an ISP, and good cause is not shown as to these identified Does. Plaintiff will file a Second Amended Complaint and will serve it, no later than December 6, 2010, identifying by name and address Defendants over whom it reasonably believes the Court has personal jurisdiction and whom it wants to sue. It will also file a notice with the Court naming those Interested Parties, John Does, and their Internet Protocol addresses, over whom Plaintiff concedes the Court lacks personal jurisdiction or otherwise should be dismissed; and setting forth the Internet Protocol address of those John Does for whom Plaintiff has no identifying information, but over whom Plaintiff reasonably believes the Court has personal jurisdiction and whom it wants to sue."

So what does this ruling mean? It's actually a partial victory for the USCG, since Judge Collyer is saying they can sue some Does that have already been identified by Time Warner - but ONLY those that are actually in that Court's jurisdiction. How many could that possibly be? Not many - so while some of their request is granted, the much bigger picture is not in the USCG's favor.

This ruling seems to avoid the direct issue of ruling on jurisdiction - and we're wondering if Judge Collyer will simply use this order in place of ruling on jurisdiction. Since it appears she's making the USCG only sue those under her court's direct jurisdiction, this could mean a much longer - and costlier - process, and perhaps may force copyright holders to rethink the cost/time/public relations benefit of this type of campaign.

Let's see if the USCG considers a Doe from Wisconsin under the jurisdiction of the DC District Court.

You can read the full ruling here.

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