I came across a very interesting and thorough article entitled "Anonymity and the Demands of Civil Procedure in Music Downloading Lawsuits" by Joshua M. Dickman, published in the Tulane Law Review at 82 Tul. L. Rev. 1049 (Feb. 2008).
After painstaking analysis of the procedural issues in the RIAA's "John Doe" cases, the author criticizes the reasoning of decisions such as that of Judge Swain in Atlantic Recording v. Does 1-25 which deferred the misjoinder issue, and comes to the following conclusion:
Until now, most music downloading courts have been quick to sacrifice the Does' anonymity by deferring consideration of the misjoinder question, and even quicker to sacrifice the Does' anonymity by deferring consideration of the personal jurisdiction question. But in failing to understand exactly how the Does' anonymity impacts the record companies' litigation strategy, those courts have likely cost the federal government millions of dollars. Moreover, in light of the fact that the Does are engaged in anonymous expression that is due at least some protection, there are strong arguments to be made that the record companies should be forced to file procedurally compliant lawsuits before the Does are forced to surrender their anonymity.
Complete article available for download
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