We just learned that Judge Robert S. Lasnik, who is managing all of Richard Symmes’ dozens of Bittorrent copyright actions filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, has on his own initiative entered several orders quashing pending subpoenas, imposing a stay, and ordering the plaintiffs in these cases to “show cause” why continued joinder of multiple Does in each case is appropriate based on the allegations that all Does participated in a common Bittorrent “swarm.” The plaintiffs have also been asked to verify the valid ownership of their copyrights, apparently to guard against corporate chicanery of the type discovered in the recent Prenda Law proceedings in California.
This follows an order entered last week by Judge Aiken in several Voltage Pictures, LLC matters pending in the U.S. District Court in Oregon finding against joinder based on the swarm allegation that was made there.
An order from the court may or may not have been yet entered in each of the several Doe actions pending before Judge Lasnik, but we anticipate that nearly identical orders will be entered in every pending case of this nature. A sample order is here. The “show cause” hearing has been set for May 24, 2013.
As we have discussed before on this site, the outcome of a “show cause” hearing on the joinder issues will most certainly not be that the plaintiffs are forever barred from pursuing a future personal copyright lawsuit against those subscribers allegedly implicated as Does. It may be that these plaintiffs are required to re-file cases separately in individual or “severed” Doe actions, with a separate filing fee required for each. Some of these plaintiffs have previously told me (and at least one other District Court) that they do intend to pursue individual Doe actions, with higher per-case settlement demands in order to recoup the cost of higher per-case legal costs. Only time can tell what may happen here.