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Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 24, 2015

MALIBU MEDIA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE, subscriber assigned IP address 71.238.55.56, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO QUASH THIRD-PARTY SUBPOENA (Doc. 6)

AVERN COHN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a copyright infringement case. Malibu Media, LLC (Plaintiff) is suing John Doe, subscriber assigned IP address 71.238.55.56 (Defendant). Plaintiff, the copyright owner to several adult motion pictures, claims that Defendant has violated the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. ยง 101, by illegally downloading and sharing the motion pictures, or a portion of the motion pictures, though an online file distribution network.

In January, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Serve Third-Party Subpoena (Doc. 5). Now before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Quash Plaintiff's Third-Party Subpoena (Doc. 6). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

II. BACKGROUND

At an unspecified date, Plaintiff, the owner of several adult motion pictures, hired IPP International UG (IPP), to investigate copyright infringements over online file distributions networks.

Plaintiff says that Defendant used an online file distribution network called BitTorrent to illegally download, copy, and distribute Plaintiff's copyrighted motion pictures.[1] To identify Defendant as a potential infringer, IPP scanned the public BitTorrent file distribution network for the presence of illegal transactions of Plaintiff's copyrighted motion pictures. IPP established a connection with Defendant's Internet Protocol (IP) address[2] and determined that Defendant had downloaded, copied, and distributed complete copies of Plaintiff's motion pictures without authorization. Although IPP had used Defendant's IP address to discover the identity and general location of the infringing device, it could not identify the name or address of the person involved in the infringement.

In January 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Serve a Third-Party Supoena prior to a Rule 26(f) Conference. Specifically, Plaintiff sought to serve limited discovery on Defendant's Internet Service Provider (ISP) so that Plaintiff might learn Defendant's true identity. As noted above, the Court granted the motion.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to quash or modify a subpoena is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3). First, a court "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A). Further, a court "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)(B).

The party seeking to quash the subpoena bears the burden of demonstrating that the requirements of Rule 45 are satisfied. Hendricks v. Total Quality Logistics, LLC, 275 F.R.D. 251, 253 (S.D. Ohio 2011). Further, "a party does not have standing to quash a subpoena directed to a nonparty unless the party claims a privilege, proprietary interest, or personal interest in the information sought by the subpoena. The party seeking to quash a subpoena bears a heavy burden of proof." Lyons v. Leach, 2014 WL 823411, at *1 (E.D. Mich. 2014) (citation omitted).

IV. DISCUSSION

A.

Defendant makes several arguments in support of the motion to quash. First, Defendant says that the Complaint provides no factual basis of copyright infringement by John Doe; "[t]herefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Plaintiff's Complaint and the third-party subpoena are intended solely to harass John Doe." (Doc. 6 at 5) Defendant says that even if there was a copyright infringement, the subpoena will identify the person who pays the Internet bill but not necessarily the proper defendant. Defendant says that ...


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