By Max Burke
The D.C. Circuit dealt a blow to copyright trolls last Tuesday when it vacated the district court’s order for discovery in AF Holdings v. Does. The case, which was filed about two years ago, lists over 1,000 “Doe” defendants who are suspected of downloading AF Holdings’ pornographic films without permission. In an attempt to identify the unknown defendants, AF Holdings motioned the district court to compel Internet service providers (ISPs) to turn over the defendants’ personal information. The court granted the motion.
The ISPs, which include Comcast and Verizon, appealed the court’s order, arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants, the venue was improper, and the defendants could not properly be joined together. The ISPs were mainly concerned that the order would allow AF Holdings to evade normal judicial procedures and unfairly leverage the defendants. Specifically, they believed the information sought would be used “to compile a contact list for Plaintiff to demand ‘settlement’ payments (typically ranging from $2,000-$4,000) from each subscriber . . . before any defendant is named or served in the lawsuits.” Continue reading