United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
REIDINGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on a letter filed with
the Court by one or more of the Doe Defendants. [Doc. 11]. The
Plaintiff responded to this letter. [Doc. 12].
LHF Productions, Inc., (“Plaintiff”) filed a
Complaint in this action for copyright infringement on June
12, 2017, alleging that unknown individuals named as
Defendants Does 1-5 (“Does 1-5”) committed
violations of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C.
§§ 101 et seq. (the “Copyright Act”)
and seeking injunctive relief, statutory damages, and
attorney's fees and costs. Plaintiff sought leave of this
Court to issue third-party subpoenas prior to a Rule 26(f)
conference on the Doe Defendants Internet Service Providers
(“ISPs”) to obtain information sufficient to
identify each Doe Defendant so that Plaintiff can serve Does
1-5 with Plaintiff's Complaint. On July 11, 2017, the
Court entered an Order allowing Plaintiff to issue subpoenas
to the ISPs of the Doe Defendants seeking the names,
addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Media
Access Control (“MAC”) addresses of Does 1-5.
September 8, 2017, Plaintiff reported to the Court that it
had served the authorized subpoena on the Doe Defendants'
ISP, Charter Communications (“Charter”), and that
it anticipated receiving Charter's response to the
subpoena on or before October 9, 2017. [Doc. 8]. On October
3, 2017, the Court received correspondence by priority mail
from Unknown Doe (the “Letter”). The identity of
the author of the Letter is not apparent from the Letter or
otherwise. The Letter is unsigned and the return address
listed on the mailing envelope is that of Charter
Communications, not the author. [Docs. 11, 11-1]. It appears
from the mailing label that the Letter was mailed on October
2, 2017. [Doc. 11-1]. On October 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
Response in Opposition to Letter. [Doc. 12].
Letter, Unknown Doe denies ever possessing or distributing or
authorizing anyone to distribute the copyrighted movie at
issue over “our internet connection.” Unknown Doe
goes on to recount past “problems with unauthorized
person/persons tampering/hacking our IP number” and the
belief that “it is impossible to link an IP address to
a particular person or computer without further detailed
analysis.” [Doc. 11]. Accordingly, Unknown Doe
“do[es] NOT authorize Spectrum/Charter communications
to release any information pertaining to our online account
including our internet history, our payment history,
passwords, IP address, actual home address, account holders
name or any other private/personal information[.]”
Id. Finally, Unknown Doe urges that “this
letter be a legal response to Plaintiff's
Letter is not a “legal response to Plaintiff's
complaint.” It has no legal or operational effect.
Plaintiff has yet to identify any of the Doe Defendants in
the Complaint or serve them with process. Even if Unknown Doe
had been identified and served with process, the form and
substance of the Letter is an inadequate manner of response
to a complaint filed with this Court. Furthermore, the Letter
fails to meet the requirements of Rule 11(a) and is subject
to being stricken by the Court. Rule 11(a) provides:
Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be
signed by at least one attorney of record in the
attorney's name - or by a party personally if the party
is unrepresented. The paper must state the signor's
address, e-mail address and telephone number…. The
court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is
promptly corrected after being called to the attorney's
or party's attention.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(a) (emphasis added). The Letter was
submitted anonymously. It is unsigned and states no address,
e-mail address or telephone number. [Doc. 11]. No grounds
exist to allow Unknown Doe to proceed anonymously in this
action. See West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Does
1-5829, 275 F.R.D. 9, 13 (D.D.C. June 10, 2011) (holding
Doe defendants in copyright action do not fall within the
“limited class of cases in which anonymous filing is
necessary to protect the privacy interests of the putative
defendants”); Liberty Media Holdings, LLC v. Swarm
Sharing Hash File, 821 F.Supp.2d 444, 453 (D.
Mass. Oct. 31, 2011) (“The potential embarrassment to
[the Doe defendants] of being associated with allegations of
infringing hardcore pornography does not constitute an
exceptional circumstance that would warrant allowing
defendants to proceed anonymously.”). As such, the
deficiencies of the Letter are hereby called to the attention
of Unknown Doe. Unknown Doe is advised that should these
deficiencies not be corrected within fourteen (14) days of
the entry of this Order, the Letter will be stricken. See
K-Beech, Inc. v. Does 1-29, 826 F.Supp.2d 903, 905 (W.D.
N.C. Nov. 28, 2011).
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that
the Letter [Doc. 11] has no operational or legal effect.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that should Unknown Doe not
correct the deficiencies in the Letter in compliance with
Rule 11(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure within
fourteen (14) days of the entry of this Order, it will be
stricken from the docket in this matter.
IS SO ORDERED.
 It is unclear from the letter whether
it was prepared and sent on behalf of a single Doe Defendant
or “Does 1-2.” See Doc. 11 and Ex. 2 to
Doc. 1. The author of the letter is heretofore ...