Nov 012011
 November 1, 2011  Posted by  Court, Online, Youth & Schools

WLFI in Indiana reports that a federal judge has ordered Purdue University to disclose the name and information of a student accused of illegally downloading a pornographic video:

The student, named in court documents as Doe 26, had filed a motion to quash a subpoena on Purdue University filed by Third Degree Films to push the university to disclose the student’s name and information.

Last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich denied the student’s request.

“Doe 26’s” filing claimed he had a privacy interest and risk of harm to his reputation, but Judge Rodovich wrote the student didn’t prove his identity is protected by the First Amendment

The case began in California when Third Degree Films filed suit against 2,010 individuals (Does) for illegally downloading the film, “Illegal Ass 2.” At the time, Doe 26 was a 19 year-old student dorming at Purdue. According to the magistrate’s order and opinion, on the date of the alleged violation, Doe 26’s roommate and other students used his router and Wi-Fi connection for internet access.

Doe moved to quash the subpoena. The court rejected his first argument that he had standing to quash because the subpoena was directed at his ISP and not him, and the section of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that would apply to his situation does not provide for an individual to move to quash.

With respect to Doe 26’s second argument, that he had a privacy interest in the information, the court noted “However, Doe 26 has not demonstrated why the requested information is privileged and not subject to discovery:”

Doe 26’s motion does not make it clear on what grounds he asserts the information is privileged, although he repeatedly mentions that he has a privacy interest in the information and that the risk of harm to his reputation outweighs Third Degree’’s need for the information. Doe 26 supports his position by arguing that the risk he was not the individual who violated the copyright is heightened because of his proximity to others in the college dormitory and someone else may have connected to his router and used his IP address to access the video. Doe 26 has not referred the court to any cases showing that a subpoena may be quashed because of the risk of harm to one’’s reputation, nor has Doe 26 established that he has a privacy interest in the requested information.

The court also noted that Doe 26 could not have a compelling privacy interest in illegally downloaded material that he made available to others via a file-sharing network.

As far as the possibility that it might not have been Doe 26 who downloaded or shared the material, the court noted that that had no bearing on the issue of the subpoena and that was a matter that would come up in litigation.

I’ve uploaded a copy of the court’s opinion and order, here.

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