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Malibu Media, LLC, A California Corporation v. John Does 1-25

June 21, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David H. Bartick United States Magistrate Judge


On April 16, 2012, Defendant John Doe 17 filed a Motion to Quash Third Party Subpoena and Sever all Doe Defendants and/or to Vacate the February 24, 2012 Order Granting Plaintiff Leave to Serve Third Party Subpoenas Prior to Rule 26(f) Conference. (ECF No. 7.) On May 2, 2012, Defendant John Doe 24 filed a Motion to Sever and Dismiss Doe Defendant No. 24 and to Quash Subpoena. (ECF No. 13.) Plaintiff has filed a Response and Opposition to both motions, and Defendants have each filed a Reply.*fn1 The Court has reviewed the parties' papers and supporting exhibits, and for the reasons set forth below DENIES Defendant John Doe 17 and Defendant John Doe 24's Motions to Quash.


On February 9, 2012, Plaintiff Malibu Media, LLC, filed this action against 25 John Doe defendants, alleging direct and contributory copyright infringement.*fn2 (ECF No. 1.) The Complaint alleges the John Doe defendants illegally reproduced and distributed Plaintiff's copyrighted material through a peer-to-peer Internet network using Bit Torrent technology. On February 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking early discovery for the limited purpose of identifying the John Doe defendants. (ECF No. 3.) Plaintiff identified the IP address associated with each John Doe defendant and requested that the Court allow it to subpoena the defendants' Internet Service-Providers ("ISPs") to obtain the true name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and Media Access Control ("MAC") address of the person to whom each IP address corresponded. On February 24, 2012, the Honorable Louisa S Porter granted the motion. (ECF No. 5.)

John Doe 17 and John Doe 24 ("Movants") now seek to quash the subpoenas issued to their respective ISPs. Alternatively, they have moved for severance and/or dismissal, and John Doe 17 has moved to vacate the February 24, 2012 Order. On April 23, 2012, the motions were referred to this Court by the Honorable Larry A. Burns, for the purpose of determining the motions to quash.*fn3


A. Legal Standard

Motions to quash subpoenas are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45. Rule 45(c)(3) provides, in relevant part, that a subpoena must be modified or quashed if it "requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter" or "subjects a person to undue burden."*fn4 Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(A). In evaluating whether a subpoena is unduly burdensome, "the court balances the burden imposed on the party subject to the subpoena by the discovery request, the relevance of the information sought to the claims or defenses at issue, the breadth of the discovery request, and the litigant's need for the information." Liberty Media Holdings v. Does 1-62, 2012 WL 628309, *2 (S.D. Cal. February 24, 2012) (citing Call of the Wild Movie, LLC v. Does 1-1,062, 770 F. Supp. 2d 332, 354-55 (D.D.C. 2001)).

B. Movants' Standing

As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff argues Movants lack standing to quash the subpoenas issued to their ISPs. As a general rule, a party does not have standing to challenge a subpoena issued to a third party, unless the party has some personal right or privilege relating to the information sought. See e.g. Vera v. O'Keefe, 2012 WL 909316, *1 (S.D. Cal. March 16, 2012); Deployment Medicine Consultants Inc. v. Pipes, et al., 2011 WL 811579, *2 (S.D. Cal. March 2, 2011); Third Degree Films, Inc. v. Does 1-108, 2012 WL 669055, *2 (D. Md. Feb. 28, 2012). Movants contend that they have a privacy interest in the identifying information they provided to their ISPs.

The Court finds that Movants' privacy interest in their contact information "is minimal at best."*fn5

Third Degree Films, Inc., 2012 WL 669055 at *2. Yet, "however minimal or 'exceedingly small' the Doe Defendants' interests here are, parties need only have 'some personal right or privilege in the information sought' to have standing to challenge a subpoena to a third party.'" Id. at *2 (internal citations omitted). Therefore, the Court will not deny Movants' motions to quash for lack of standing.

C. Motion to Quash on Grounds that Plaintiff is Not the Real Party in Interest

John Doe 17 argues that there is no corporation by the name of "Malibu Media, LLC" listed on the California Secretary of State's website. Therefore, John Doe 17 concludes Plaintiff is not entitled to sue for copyright infringement because no such corporate entity exists. On that basis, John Doe 17 argues the subpoena should be quashed.*fn6 Plaintiff counters that "Malibu Media LCC" is a limited liability company,*fn7 and the Secretary of State's LLC database reflects that ...

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