Florida Judge Demands Joinder In BitTorrent Litigation

Across the nation there are arguments on whether or not a plaintiff may properly join defendants in BitTorrent litigation. Each case filed costs several thousand dollars and by joining multiple defendants there are notable cost savings. Often defendants argue against joinder in an attempt to make it harder for rights holders to enforce their copyrights, hoping the rights holders will not be able to afford to pursue them. On the other side, rights holders argue they need joinder in order to enforce their rights in a cost effective manner. Courts are split in whether or not defendants can force rights holders to sever cases and often there are different outcomes in the same district with some judges allowing joined cases and a different judge in the same district across the hall demanding individual cases.

Some plaintiffs have elected to skip over this issue and simply file against individual defendants in the initial suit, though this often results in very high awards even without any damages as individual cases are expensive. (Voltage v. Horner, 14-cv-1406, Jan. 7, 2015, D Or. $15,230 for “actual costs, fees but waiving any claim for damages.”) However, a Judge in Florida appears to be taking a different view and is not only allowing joined cases, she is demanding them.

In Good Man Productions v. Doe, 14-cv-62727-BB, in the Southern District of Florida Judge Bloom has ordered, “all future filings in this case shall be [joined with this case]” … “in the interests of judicial efficiency.”   While the joined v. individual suit arguments have often been fought on the issue of swarm size and location, Judge Bloom seems to have skipped over all the petty arguments and in a curt order recognized that when essentially the same claims, facts and often nearly identical complaints are at issue, joinder is proper and will be demanded.

Relevant Order: Good Man Productions v. Doe, 14-cv-62727-BB Feb. 12, 2015, Md. Fla.

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