Titan Roadblocked in Porn BitTorrent Lawsuit

Feb 14, 2011 3:15 PM PST
SAN FRANCISCO — Titan Media, which hit a roadblock in a BitTorrent suit last week, has vowed to refile it.

A federal judge last week denied a Titan motion to file a first amended complaint against 50 BitTorrent users, earlier whittled down from 435 John Doe defendants, who not only were charged with copyright infringement but civil conspiracy as well.

The ruling continues to leave Titan with only one Doe defendant, known as J.W, in the case.

U.S. Judge Susan Illston said in her order that it would be futile to grant plaintiff leave to amend to file a first amended complaint because it ultimately would be dismissed for improper joinder.

"The vast majority of Does are alleged to have distributed different movies, on different days, at different times," Illston said in the ruling. "The fundamental problem [Titan] faces is that there are no factual allegations to support the assertion that the Doe defendants are connected to the 'same transaction, occurrence or series of transactions or occurrences,' or any facts that show they specifically acted in concert.

Illston noted that the court "is troubled by plaintiff’s motive for seeking joinder of the Doe defendants in one action."

"[Titan's] motive for seeking joinder ... is to keep its own litigation costs down in hopes that defendants will accept a low initial settlement demand," she ruled. "However, filing one mass action in order to identify hundreds of doe defendants through pre-service discovery and facilitate mass settlement, is not what the joinder rules were established for."

Attorney Gill Sperlein, who represents Titan's parent company, the IO Group, said the gay adult studio believed it set forth "unique" claims that make the joinder in the case proper.

"Unfortunately, the court disagreed," Sperlein told XBIZ. "We will analyze the court’s guidance and refile shortly.

"One thing the lawyers representing the defendants in these cases don’t understand — we will not go away. They have every right to make sure plaintiffs follow proper procedures.

"However, if they convince the courts that extra measures are necessary because these claims should be disfavored, the increased expense will ultimately be paid by their clients and other defendants who frankly would have preferred an opportunity to settle quickly and less expensively."

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