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Bodyguard Productions, Inc. v. Doe

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 26, 2018

BODYGUARD PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DOE 1, Defendant.

          ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on the following motions:

1) Plaintiff's Ex Parte Motion for Expedited Discovery (Dkt. #18)
2) Plaintiff's Motion to Extend Time to Serve the Complaint (Dkt. #19)
3) Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Initial Scheduling Dates (Dkt. #17) For the reasons set forth below, the Court resolves the pending motions as follows:

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Bodyguard Productions, Inc., alleges copyright infringement claims against unknown Defendant Doe 1, who allegedly used “peer to peer” or BitTorrent file “swapping” networks to illegally obtain and distribute the motion picture The Hitman's Bodyguard. Dkt. #1 ¶¶ 5, 10-35. Plaintiff identifies Defendant by an Internet Protocol (“IP”) address. Dkt. #1, Exh. B. Plaintiff has established that internet service providers (“ISPs”), with notification of a particular IP address and a specific time of use, can associate an IP address with a particular subscriber. Dkt. #6 ¶¶ 11-13. ISPs, however, may only maintain the information necessary to make this association for a limited time. Id. Plaintiff represents that without the information, “Plaintiff will have no ability to identify the Defendant[], and thus will be unable to pursue its lawsuit to protect its copyrighted work.” Dkt. #18 at 4-5.

         To support that identification of the subscriber will identify Defendant, Plaintiff asserts that each IP address has also been observed and associated with significant infringing activity and associated with the exchange of other titles on peer-to-peer networks. Dkt. #1 ¶ 11. Due to the volume, titles, and persistent observed activity associated with Defendant's IP address, Plaintiff concludes that Defendant is not a transitory or occasional guest, but is either the primary subscriber of the IP address or someone who resides with the subscriber and/or is an authorized user of the IP address. Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Motion for Expedited Discovery

         1. Legal Standard

         This Court may authorize early discovery before the Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f) conference for the parties' and witnesses' convenience and in the interests of justice. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d). Courts within the Ninth Circuit generally consider whether a plaintiff has shown “good cause” for such early discovery. See, e.g., Yokohama Tire Corp. v. Dealers Tire Supply, Inc., 202 F.R.D. 612, 613- 14 (D. Ariz. 2001) (collecting cases and standards). When the identities of defendants are not known before a Complaint is filed, a plaintiff “should be given an opportunity through discovery to identify the unknown defendants, unless it is clear that discovery would not uncover the identities, or that the complaint would be dismissed on other grounds.” Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 642 (9th Cir. 1980). In evaluating whether a plaintiff establishes good cause to learn the identity of Doe defendants through early discovery, courts examine whether the plaintiff (1) identifies the Doe defendant with sufficient specificity that the Court can determine that the defendant is a real person who can be sued in federal court, (2) recounts the steps taken to locate and identify the defendant, (3) demonstrates that the action can withstand a motion to dismiss, and (4) proves that the discovery is likely to lead to identifying information that will permit service of process. Columbia Ins. Co. v. seescandy.com, 185 F.R.D. 573, 578-80 (N.D. Cal. 1999).

         2. Plaintiff Has Shown Good Cause to Take Early ...


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