By Kassity Liu
Judge Orders Copyright Plaintiff to Justify Joining Thousands of Defendants in a Single Lawsuit
Ars Technica reports that Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the US Copyright Group to explain why joining thousands of anonymous “John Does” into one lawsuit is permissible under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The judge, after encountering one case that was filed against 4,577 anonymous P2P defendants, issued the order requiring the Group to “convince [her] within two weeks that jamming 4,577 people into a single lawsuit is a proper use of the court system.” In an amicus brief filed by the ACLU and EFF, the two organizations argued that this type of joinder is improper according to FRCP 20, which states that a plaintiff may only join a defendant in a lawsuit if the plaintiff is able to “assert . . . relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences.” If it permits this suit, the court runs the risk of denying a fair trial to a large number of defendants; however, forcing the plaintiff to pursue a case against each individual defendant may result in undue delay and expense.
Ninth Circuit Decision may Swallow the Protections Afforded by the First Sale Doctrine
Ben Sheffner reports in his blog that the Ninth Circuit recently posted the oral arguments given by the opposing parties in UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Augusto. The case will address the scope of the first sale doctrine, which places limitations on the control of copyright owners over the reselling or distribution of their products. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides an overview of the case. In 2007, Universal Music Group (UMG) sued Troy Augusto for reselling its promotional CDs, alleging that the reselling violated “its exclusive right to distribute its works under 17 USC § 106(3)” because these CDs were only licensed “for a limited purpose to a limited group.” The district court had relied upon an obscure postal statute that “characterize[d] unordered merchandise as a gift” (internal quotations omitted) to find that the reselling was protected by the first sale doctrine and thus did not violate U.S. copyright law. If the Ninth Circuit rules for UMG, then copyright owners would gain the power to limit the distribution of their products using limited license labels.
FTC to Launch Investigation in Apple’s Exclusionary Practices with its Mobile Operating System
Ars Technica reports that the FTC is investigating whether Apple’s decision to allow only certain third-party compilers to place software and data on its mobile operative system constitutes a violation of U.S. antitrust law. The investigation is still in its early stages and has not become public, but inside sources suggest that the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice settled their rumored debate over which agency would investigate Apple’s practices. Last month, Ars Technica reported on the discussions between the two agencies regarding “which one [would] launch the antitrust inquiry” that preceded the current FTC investigation. It is unknown which companies are behind the complaint to the FTC; both Adobe and Google are listed as potential parties.