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Inc. v. Does

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

November 9, 2017

UN4 PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DOES 1-10, Defendants.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. KEESLER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Defendant John Doe 7's “Motion To Quash Subpoena Directed To John Doe 7” (Document No. 8). This motion has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), and is ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the motion and the record, the undersigned will deny the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff UN4 Productions, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) filed its “Complaint For Copyright Infringement” (Document No. 1) on August 25, 2017, asserting that Doe Defendants 1-10 (the “Doe Defendants”) have infringed on Plaintiff's exclusive rights under the Copyright Act by copying and distributing Plaintiff's motion picture, Boyka: Undisputed 4 (“Boyka”), a mixed martial arts action film. (Document No. 1, p.8). Plaintiff further asserts that Boyka is protected by the Copyright Act and Registration PA 2-031-176, March 29, 2017. (Document No. 1, p.3). Plaintiff does not know the true names of the Doe Defendants, only their Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses as assigned by their Internet Service Provider (“ISP”). (Document No. 1, pp.4, 13).

         Plaintiff also filed its “Motion for Leave To Take Discovery Prior To Rule 26(f) Conference” (Document No. 4) on August 25, 2017. By that motion, Plaintiff sought to issue subpoenas pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 to one or more ISPs who provided Internet services to any of the Doe Defendants identified by an IP address in Exhibit 2 of the Complaint. (Document No. 4, p.1); see also, (Document No. 1, p.13). Plaintiff asserted that it would seek production of documents containing information sufficient to identify each Doe Defendant, including their names and current addresses. Id. Once it obtains the true names of the Doe Defendants, Plaintiff intends to amend its Complaint. (Document No. 1, p.4).

         The undersigned granted the motion for early discovery on August 28, 2017. (Document No. 7). The undersigned specifically ordered that:

(1) Plaintiff may serve each of the ISPs with a copy of this Order and a Rule 45 subpoena, commanding each ISP to provide Plaintiff with the true name, permanent address, current address, telephone number, email address, and Media Access Control (“MAC”) address of the Defendant to whom the ISP assigned an IP address as set forth in Exhibit B (Document No. 1, p.13) to the Complaint; and (2) Plaintiff may only use the information disclosed in response to a Rule 45 subpoena served on an ISP for the purpose of protecting and enforcing Plaintiff's rights as set forth in its Complaint.

(Document No. 7, p.2). The Order also explicitly stated that “the undersigned expresses no opinion as to how the Court might rule on any motion(s) to quash the proposed subpoenas.” Id.

         On October 10, 2017, counsel for Defendant John Doe 7, identified by IP address 69.132.81.191, filed the pending “Motion To Quash Subpoena Directed To John Doe 7” (Document No. 8); see also (Document No. 1-2). “Plaintiff's Response In Opposition…” (Document No. 9) was filed on October 24, 2017; and Defendant's reply brief was filed on October 31, 2017.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The rules of discovery are to be accorded broad and liberal construction. See Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177 (1979); and Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). However, a court may “issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, ...


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