The US Copyright Group (USCG) has asked for several time extensions to allow for collection of evidence against 6,000 John Doe defendants accused of illegally sharing the motion pictures Far Cry and Steam Experiment since the cases were filed in the DC District Court earlier this year. Finally, federal judge Rosemary Collyer seems to be losing patience with the group’s demands and tactics.
While the USCG has begun to get the identifying information on the John Doe defendants from their corresponding internet service providers, the group is using the information to send out settlement letters offering to drop the cases in exchange for money before naming the defendants in the case. Because the costs associated with the ISPs processing the identification of John Does, the USCG has now asked Collyer to extend the deadline for naming defendants out five years to 2015.
The judge was not at all amused by the USCG’s proposal, and wasn’t willing to give them an additional five weeks let alone five years.
“The request is patently unfair and prejudicial to all John Does who have been identified by an ISP, and good cause is not shown as to these identified Does. Plaintiff will file a Second Amended Complaint and will serve it, no later than December 6, 2010, identifying by name and address Defendants over whom it reasonably believes the Court has personal jurisdiction and whom it wants to sue. It will also file a notice with the Court naming those Interested Parties, John Does, and their Internet Protocol addresses, over whom Plaintiff concedes the Court lacks personal jurisdiction or otherwise should be dismissed.” Collier ordered on Friday.
One of the attorneys representing the file-sharing defendants told Ars Technica that the order was “what it looks like when a judge starts to lose her patience,” and that Collyer wants USCG to “sh– or get off the pot.” Yet another attorney referred to it as a “step up or step off” order.
In another Far Cry development, two of the unnamed defendants have filed temporary restraining orders against their ISP, Charter Communications, to block the subpoenas that would require the company to release their identifying information. As of now, the restraining order has successfully served its purpose, though the USCG is working to try to get it lifted.
Since Collyer’s December 6th deadline is only two weeks away, we should have more information soon as to how the USCG plans to proceed. They already have the names of several of the defendants, so they may just submit that information to the courts and proceed with the cases. This does mean that they will have little time to get responses from any of their settlement letters before the deadline, so that cash cow seems to have run dry.