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Judge Grants EFF's Entry into Copyright Case
March 22, 2011
Thomas Mennecke
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There are few things copyright trolls and Internet bullies despise more than to find out the EFF is now involved in their legal crusade against alleged file-sharers. In one of the larger adult-oriented BitTorrent copyright cases, OpenMind Solutions, Inc., is trying to circumvent the myriad of legal issues currently confronting mass lawsuits by filing a class action lawsuit against 2,925 supposed infringers.

As many are already familiar, over 40,000 John Does were recently dismissed, or severed, from litigation due to jurisdictional issues. P2P litigators can’t just sue thousands of individuals in one shot – only those under the jurisdiction of the District Court. To get around this, apparently they’re trying to use class action law – this time instead of a mass of people suing one entity, one entity is suing thousands of individuals.

The EFF is objecting to this approach – and earlier this month filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief. In their brief, the EFF is trying to halt the discovery process which, if successful, will yield the identities of the alleged infringers. The EFF argued in their brief that not enough scrutiny was being placed on the discovery process, and the rights of the accused may be steamrolled.

"There is a short window here, before the defendants' identities are disclosed, in which the court can ensure that these individuals are treated fairly and justly," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "The class action process was never intended to be used this way. We're asking the court to call a halt to the gamesmanship from OpenMind Solutions."

The court responded yesterday, and agreed to hear the EFF’s argument.
“ORDER granting Motion for Leave to Appear as Amicus Curiae brought by Electronic Frontier Foundation ("EFF"). EFF shall file its proposed brief amicus curiae not later than two (2) days from the date of entry of this Order. Signed by Judge G. Patrick Murphy on 3/21/2011.”

Although a massive disappointment to OpenMind Solutions, this move will, for the moment, delay the identification of the unnamed Does until the court considers the EFF’s argument. Perhaps ultimately, this will be yet another chip off the copyright troll machine.

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