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LHF Productions, Inc. v. Does

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

August 2, 2016

LHF PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DOES 1-25, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge

         In this 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 174.53.78.80), 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.[1]

         Federal 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).

         Here, 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.)[2] Thus, Doe ...


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