Defendants, ISPs: D.C. Court Doesn’t Have Jurisdiction in P2P John Doe Case

August 30, 2010 -

As a court case in the District of Columbia court against 14,000 "john doe" defendants filed by the US Copyright Group over file sharing movies continues, increasingly defendants and ISPs are saying that the court has no jurisdiction over them.

One John Doe defendant in the D.C. case sent a letter to the court saying that he has never traded files, nor lived, used an ISP, or worked in the D.C area and that adding him as a defendant is improper because he has nothing in common with the "co-defendants." Here's what he wrote to the court:

"There is a lack of personal jurisdiction over John Doe in the District of Columbia," he writes, "He has never lived, worked, or used any Internet service in the District of Columbia."

"Adding John Doe as a defendant in this matter would be improper because John Doe has nothing in common with his prospective co-defendants."

"Jurisdiction and joinder" are important points because the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued these very points before the presiding judge, , who declined its request saying that it was not the proper time to make that argument. Nevertheless, defendants and ISPs are making those arguments and they are not waiting to do it at the judge's discretion. In fact, one ISP isn't arguing within that court's jurisdiction at all.

 

South Dakota ISP Midcontinent Communications was not happy that a subpoena demanding that it look up the names and addresses of several dozen users for a P2P lawsuit over the film The Hurt Locker.

Instead of replying to the DC District Court, Midcontinent's lawyers went to South Dakota's federal court and argued that the DC court had no jurisdiction over the company. The company's lawyers simply argued that if US Copyright Group wanted the information, it would need to file its request with a court in the Eighth Circuit, where Midcontinent does its business:

"Since the information requested is in Midcontinent's office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a subpoena to retrieve that information would have to come from this Court, not a District of Columbia court," says the filing.

Midcontinent also said that the subpoena came via fax and not by mail or messenger, and that it had contained no promise to pay the company's $350+ in costs to do the lookups.

At the end of the day John Doe filings with the court and ISPs that do not do business in the D.C. area may be compelled to fight against US Copyright Groups efforts. It will be interesting to see what other courts have to say about this as it relates to ISPs, and if this is a path for "John Does" to go to deal with this blind, blanket legal action.

Sourced: Ars Technica


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