United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge
copyright-infringement case, plaintiff LHF Productions, Inc.,
claims that defendants Does 1-25 illegally downloaded copies
of the film London Has Fallen using a file-sharing
service known as BitTorrent. At the time of filing, LHF did
not know the defendants’ true identities; it knew only
their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (a series of numbers
assigned to each Internet subscriber), Internet service
providers, and service locations. Hence, the court allowed
LHF to conduct expedited discovery and serve subpoenas on the
Internet service providers, requesting documents containing
the defendants’ identifying information. Proceeding
pro se, one of the defendants, who identifies
himself as John Doe (IP address number 126.96.36.199), now
moves to quash or vacate the subpoena served on his Internet
service provider. For the reasons that follow, the court will
deny the motion.
Rule of Civil Procedure 45 governs third-party subpoenas. As
relevant here, it provides:
(3) Quashing or Modifying a Subpoena.
(A) When Required. On timely motion, the court for
the district where compliance is required must quash or
modify a subpoena that:
(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical
limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected
matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or
(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.
(B) When Permitted. To protect a person subject to
or affected by a subpoena, the court for the district where
compliance is required may, on motion, quash or modify the
subpoena if it requires:
(i) disclosing a trade secret or other confidential research,
development, or commercial information; or
(ii) disclosing an unretained expert’s opinion or
information that does not describe specific occurrences in
dispute and results from the expert’s study that was
not requested by a party.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(3).
Doe does not raise any of these concerns in support of his
motion to quash or vacate the subpoena served on his Internet
service provider. (Def.’s Mot. to Quash 1-4, Dkt. No.
10.) Nor does he challenge the relevancy of the requested
documents. (Id.) Instead, he contends that
LHF’s “allegations of copyright infringement
[are] speculative in nature[, ] lacking factual
evidence”; that “an IP address is not a person,
and cannot identify a person”; and that “the
alleged infringer has not been identified and nothing
establish[es] that the person actually lives in the
district.” (Id. at 4.) Thus, Doe ...