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The Legal Fiction of John Doe Defendants

Certainly, copyright infringement is a legitimate basis for suit.But the general safeguards developed by federal courts to ensure that all civil defendants get a fair chance to present their defenses always apply.

Unfortunately, the business model adopted by today’s copyright troll flouts those procedures. The model is simple: file suit against John Doe Defendants, subpoena their identities, and use the action as a club to coerce settlement regardless of the merits.

When John Does do decide to fight back, they find themselves on the wrong end of a one-sided Catch-22. They can be sued, but not defend themselves because “they are not parties to the action.

One judge went as far to say “[b]ecause Defendant has disclosed no identifying information, there is no way to determine whether the motion was filed by a real party in interest or a stranger to the litigation.”

For those benevolent strangers out there with thousands of dollars of disposable income to hire counsel and file motions on behalf of someone you’ve never met just to see an issue litigated on the merits, please stop. Haven’t you done enough damage?

One Comment on “The Legal Fiction of John Doe Defendants”

  • Jane Doe July 26th, 2011 5:51 pm

    Very precise. Yet this “catch-22″ problem is just a tip of the iceberg, there are many other problems and injustices that comprise the “business model” of copyright trolls. I tried to outline some from my amateurish viewpoint in my blog: http://fightcopyrighttrolls.com/about/

    Also, thank you for taking the case against US Copyright Group. Another big problem with mass file-sharing lawsuits is that it is virtually impossible to get the victims together – everyone is pretty much on his own. Hence, many amateurish motions are not taken seriously by judges. We need someone professional to fight with this plague. EFF writes beautiful briefs, but they are overwhelmed by the army of trolls who don’t care about the reputation of the legal profession in their quest for easy money.

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