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808 Holdings, LLC, A California Limited v. Collective Sharing Hash E37917c8eeb4585e6421358ff32f29c D63c23c91

May 4, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ruben B. Brooks United States Magistrate Judge


On January 25, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Take Early Discovery with a Memorandum of Points and Authorities and an exhibit [ECF No. 3] before United States Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. On April 25, 2012, the case was transferred to this Court pursuant to the "Low-Number" Rule [ECF No. 4]. Because no Defendant has been named or served, no opposition or reply briefs have been filed.

The Plaintiff failed to comply with local rules and obtain a hearing date before filing its Motion for Leave to Take Early Discovery. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Although 808 Holdings did not obtain a hearing date before Judge Adler, the Court finds the Plaintiff's Motion suitable for resolution on the papers. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is DENIED.


On January 24, 2012, Plaintiff 808 Holdings, LLC ("808 Holdings") filed a Complaint against the Collective Sharing Hash E37917C8EEB4585E6421358FF32F29CD63C23C91 on December 28, 2011, and DOES one through thirty-nine ("Defendants") [ECF No. 1]. Plaintiff does business under the names "Cody Media" and "," and it purports to be the registered owner of, and hold the exclusive rights to, the copyright of the motion picture, "Brandon & Pierce Unwrapped." (Compl. 1, 3, ECF No. 1.) First, 808 Holdings alleges a claim for copyright infringement, stating that Defendants reproduced and distributed Plaintiff's copyrighted material through the Internet without authorization of the Plaintiff. (Id. at 22-23.) Second, 808 Holdings pleads contributory copyright infringement, alleging that Defendants illegally obtained the copyrighted motion picture and assisted others in doing the same. (Id. at 23-25.) Third, Plaintiff argues that the Defendants were negligent in failing to adequately secure their Internet access to prevent its unlawful use by others. (Id. at 25-26.)

One day after filing the Complaint, on January 25, 2012, 808 Holdings filed this Motion for Leave to Take Early Discovery to learn the identities of the Doe Defendants from their respective Internet Service Providers ("ISPs"). (Mot. Leave Take Early Disc. 1, ECF No. 3.)*fn1 Specifically, 808 Holdings seeks an order directing the ISPs to release the subscriber's identifying information. (Id.) The Plaintiff also seeks leave to serve interrogatories on, and take the depositions of, the individuals identified by the ISPs to determine whether the actual Internet subscriber is the proper defendant. (Id. Attach. #1 Mem. P. & A. 1.) Plaintiff attached to its Motion a list of the Internet Protocol ("IP") addresses associated with subscribers it hopes to identify as defendants. (Id. Attach. #2 Ex. 1, at 2-3.) The list indicates the state attributable to each IP address, but it does not provide the city. (See id.)


In the Complaint, Plaintiff 808 Holdings alleges that the thirty-nine Doe Defendants collectively infringed its copyrighted work using a BitTorrent file transfer protocol. (Compl. 2, ECF No. 1.) In general, the Plaintiff asserts that each time a Defendant distributes the motion picture to others, those individuals can then distribute that infringing copy to other people in "an interconnected collective," which then builds on its prior infringements. (Id.) The Defendants are purportedly a collection of "BitTorrent users" or "peers" whose computers are connected for the purpose of sharing a file, otherwise known as a "swarm." (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that each BitTorrent swarm is associated with a particular "hash," which has a specific identifier for the file. (Id.) The sharing hash associated with the motion picture at issue is E37917C8EEB4585E6421358FF32F29CD63C23C91 ("E379 Hash"). (Id. at 4.)

A. BitTorrent Protocol

According to 808 Holdings, the BitTorrent protocol is distinguishable from previously used peer-to-peer file sharing technology, utilized by Napster or Limewire, because it "allows for higher transfer speeds by locating pieces (or 'bits') of the file already present on other users' computers and downloading them simultaneously." (Id. at 18.) "This is done by joining into the 'swarm,' or collective, of peers to download and upload from each other simultaneously." (Id.) This process results in faster downloads than peer-to-peer file sharing technology. (Id.)

Plaintiff describes the process of downloading and uploading files through a BitTorrent protocol as "quick and efficient." (Id.) When a user downloads a media file, he or she opens the file on a BitTorrent client application; the user then extracts a list with tracker locations that connect to IP addresses that are currently running the BitTorrent software and offering to distribute the file. (Id.) The downloader's BitTorrent program then begins to download the media file automatically. (Id.)

B. Forming a Swarm

In the Complaint, 808 Holdings maintains that a swarm begins with an initial user called the "seeder" who begins to share a file with a torrent swarm. (Id.) New members of the swarm then connect to the seeder to download the media file, which creates a digital copy of the file; the process repeats as new members join the swarm, increasing the number of users in the swarm. (Id.) Each member both acquires and redistributes the media file by simultaneously uploading and downloading portions of the same digital copy with the other members. (Id. at 18-19.) Therefore, ...

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