For those bittorrent users accused of copyright infringement in Arizona, there is a new rule which you can use in your defense.
Traditionally, in order to properly sue multiple bittorrent users together in one lawsuit, they need only to participate in the “same transaction or occurrence.” In other words, they need to do the same “crime” at the same time. Not so in California, and NOW, not so in Arizona. [For the California citation, see Document 26 in the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-188 (Case No. 3:11-cv-01566) case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.]
In bittorrent language, when you connect to a bittorrent swarm and download copyrighted media, all of you participating in that bittorrent swarm would be sued together. This is one of the most recent kinds of lawsuits by the more skilled plaintiff attorneys — instead of Plaintiff v. John Does 1-123 (or however many John Doe Defendants there are lumped together [and separated by the state in which they reside] in this lawsuit), smarter plaintiffs are suing participants of the swarm itself (e.g., Plaintiff v. Swarm of Nov. 3rd, 2011 [and participants thereof]). No longer in in Arizona.
NEW RULE: Now in Arizona, in order to be sued with other John Doe Defendants, you must have either UPLOADED TO or DOWNLOADED FROM each one of the other defendants. If not, the defendants are not properly joined and defendants can be severed and dismissed from the case for improper joinder.
TODAY in the Patrick Collins, Inc. v. John Does 1-54 (Case No. 2:11-cv-01602) case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, in U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow’s own words:
Plaintiff alleges that the two remaining Defendants “participat[ed] in the BitTorrent swarm with other infringers” but does not claim that John Doe 6 provided data to the former John Doe 12 or vice versa. (Doc. 26 ¶ 56). …
… Plaintiff alleges no facts that these two particular Defendants shared data with each other, and provides data instead that they were logged on to BitTorrent weeks apart. “The bare fact that a Doe clicked on a command to participate in the BitTorrent Protocol does not mean that they were part of the downloading by unknown hundreds or thousands of individuals across the country or across the world.” Hard Drive Prods., Inc. v. Does 1–188, 11 No. CV-11-01566, 2011 WL 3740473, at *13 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 23, 2011)
Personal Note: While this ruling is not immediately relevant if you do not live in Arizona, it is still good news because it indicates that judges are starting to understand how rules (here, the rules of “joinder”) apply in the bittorrent context. No doubt, this order will be recognized and used in other cases in other jurisdictions as being persuasive as to how a judge should understand who can be sued together with whom. Soon it will no longer be permitted for an enterprising plaintiff (e.g., “copyright troll”) to sue tens or hundreds of defendants in one lawsuit, lumping them together by the state in which they live (this lumping-together-by-state was the result of the dismissals last year over personal jurisdiction issues). I look forward to other judges in other states soon to adopt this ruling. It is a well thought-out understanding of the joinder issue.
I have pasted the link to the order below for your enjoyment.
[scribd id=86003821 key=key-2fdfgumg990ug6reuo9a mode=list]