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Dallas Buyers Club LLC v. Doe 73.92.201.24

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 16, 2016

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DOE-73.92.201.24, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S EX PARTE MOTION FOR EXPEDITED DISCOVERY RE: DKT. NO. 6

          JOSEPH C. SPERO Chief Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Dallas Buyers Club, LLC ("DBC") alleges that the unnamed Defendant ("Doe") has infringed its copyright for the motion picture Dallas Buyers Club. DBC has been unable to determine Doe's identity, but has ascertained Doe's IP address (73.92.201.24) and Internet Service Provider (Comcast Cable). Now pending before the Court is DBC's ex parte Motion for Expedited Discovery ("Motion"). DBC requests an order permitting it to subpoena third party Comcast Cable for records that will reveal the identity of the subscriber associated with Doe's IP address. The Court finds that the Motion is suitable for determination without oral argument. See Civil L.R. 7-1(b). Good cause shown, the Motion is GRANTED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A.The Complaint

         DBC filed the instant Complaint against Doe on June 1, 2016, alleging copyright infringement under the Copyright Act. Compl. ¶¶ 35-41. DBC also filed Exhibit 1 in which DBC lists the date, time, and location of the alleged acts of infringement. Dkt. 1-1. Exhibit 1 also lists the IP address and Internet Service Provider used in the alleged acts. In the Complaint, DBC alleges as follows.

         DBC is the registered copyright holder for the motion picture Dallas Buyers Club ("the film"). Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6. The film contains wholly original material that is copyrightable subject matter currently offered for sale in commerce. Id. ¶¶ 8-9.

         From April 11, 2016, to May 18, 2016, Doe distributed a distinct copy of the film in at least 190 instances. Id. ¶¶ 12, 15-16; see also Id . Ex. 1 (listing the distributions). Doe distributed the film, as well as many other copyrighted works, through BitTorrent's peer-to-peer file sharing network. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 16-17, 30. Doe's BitTorrent activity is consistent with a singular, identifiable adult who was authorized to use the IP address from which the distributions were made. Id. ¶¶ 17-22.

         Presently, DBC only knows Doe by the IP address from which the distributions were made (73.92.201.24, "Doe's IP address"). Id. ¶ 12. Using geolocation technology, DBC traced the distributions from Doe's IP address to the Northern District of California. Id. ¶¶ 14-15, 21. DBC determined that Comcast Cable was the Internet Service Provider for Doe's IP address when the distributions occurred. Id. ¶ 21. Comcast Cable generally assigns a subscriber one IP address for extended time periods and maintains records of its IP address assignments. Id. ¶ 21-22. Because the Comcast Cable subscriber assigned Doe's IP address is either Doe or a person who authorized Doe's Internet access, DBC would likely be able to identify Doe upon discovering Comcast Cable's records. Id. ¶ 22-23.

         B. The Motion

         On June 2, 2016, DBC filed the pending Motion, requesting that the Court permit DBC to subpoena Comcast Cable under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45. With the Motion, DBC filed the Declaration of James S. Davis, DBC's counsel. Dkt. 6-3. Davis declared that he compiled the list of distributions in Exhibit 1 from data provided by DBC's investigators, MaverickEye UG. Davis Decl. ¶¶ 5-6. He also declared that, using three geolocation websites, [1] he traced Doe's IP address to Alameda County and confirmed Comcast Cable as the Internet Service Provider. Id. ¶¶ 8-9. Pursuant to his findings, Davis asserts that Comcast Cable is able to identify the subscriber assigned Doe's IP address, who is either Doe or someone who can identify Doe. Id. ¶ 11.

         III.ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         In the Ninth Circuit, a district court may permit a plaintiff to seek expedited discovery when good cause is shown. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d)(1); see also Semitool, Inc. v. Tokyo Electron Am., Inc., 208 F.R.D. 273, 275-76 (N.D. Cal. 2002); G.N. Iheaku & Co. Ltd. v. Does 1-3, No. C 14-02069 LB, 2014 WL 2759075, at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 17, 2014) (collecting authority). "Good cause may be found where the need for expedited discovery, in consideration of the administration of justice, outweighs the prejudice to the responding party." Semitool, Inc., 208 F.R.D. at 275. "[G]ood cause is frequently found in cases involving claims of infringement . . . ." Id. District courts have broad discretion to fashion expedited discovery orders. See Laub v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 342 F.3d 1080, 1093 (9th Cir. 2003); ...


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