Name of Assigned Judge Harry D. Leinenweber Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge
For the following reasons, and subject to the limitations described below, Plaintiff's motion to compel compliance with a subpoena [DKT 16] is granted.
O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.
Plaintiff Pacific Century International, Ltd. ("Pacific") moves under Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(2)(B) to compel Comcast Cable Communications, LLC ("Comcast") to comply with a subpoena deuces tecum served on March 13, 2012. Plaintiff seeks identifying information for Comcast internet service customers, including their names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Media Access Control addresses.
In brief, Plaintiff is a Maltese adult entertainment provider. Plaintiff has filed suit against 31 "John Doe" defendants, alleging copyright infringement and civil conspiracy. The as-yet anonymous defendants allegedly unlawfully downloaded and shared Plaintiff's video using the BitTorrent Internet filesharing protocol. As one court recently explained:
BitTorrent works by breaking files into many smaller files 'to reduce the load on the source computer. and allows users to join a 'swarm' of host computers to download and upload from each other simultaneously..' BitTorrent also uses a "tracker" computer that tracks the pieces of the files as those pieces are shared among various computers.
In re BitTorrent Adult Film Copyright Infringement Cases, Nos. 11-3995, 12-1147, 12-1150, 12-1154, 2012 WL 1570765, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. May 1, 2012) (citations omitted).
Currently, Plaintiff knows each Defendant only by his or her Internet Protocol address ("IP address"), which is a number assigned to computers and devices connected to the Internet. Plaintiff has subpoenaed Comcast for information identifying who owns some of the IP addresses, pursuant to this Court's January 10, 2012 order permitting expedited ex-parte discovery to identify the identity of the defendants.
A court must quash a subpoena if, inter alia, it requires disclosure of privileged or protected matter (and no exception or waiver applies) or compliance would place an undue burden on the person. Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(A). To assess the burden, courts weigh the benefits of producing the material, including its relevance, against the burden of production. Pac. Century Intern., Ltd. v. Does 1-37, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2012
WL 1072312, at *9-10 (N.D. Ill. May 21, 2012). The fact that a subpoena recipient is not a party to litigation receives "special weight" in determining whether the burden is undue. United States v. Amerigroup Ill., Inc., No. 02 C 6074, 2005 WL 3111972, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 21, 2005). Similar to Rule 45, Rule 26 requires a court to limit discovery if the burden or expense of the discovery outweighs its benefit, and allows the court, for good cause, to issue an order protecting a party or person from "annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 (b) (2) (C), (c).
Persons may be joined as defendants in a suit that presents common questions of law or fact as to all of them, if "any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). At ...