United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Malibu Media, LLC (“Plaintiff”) filed this action
for copyright infringement against a John Doe defendant
(“Doe”). Presently pending is a motion to quash
filed by Doe. (ECF No. 7). The issues have been briefed, and
the court now rules, no hearing deemed necessary. Local Rule
105.6. For the following reasons, the motion to quash will be
limited factual background in this case can be found in a
prior order granting Plaintiff's motion for leave to
serve a third-party subpoena. (See ECF No. 6).
Plaintiff alleges that a single Doe defendant utilized the
BitTorrent file distribution network to download adult
pornographic films subject to copyrights held by Plaintiff.
Plaintiff identified Doe only by an Internet Protocol address
(“IP address”) assigned to a customer on a
specific date by an Internet Service Provider
(“ISP”). Accordingly, Plaintiff moved to expedite
discovery and serve a third-party subpoena on the ISP prior
to a Rule 26(f) conference in order to obtain the identity of
Doe. Plaintiff's motion was granted on August 21, 2018,
subject to numerous conditions and limitations dictated by
the sensitive nature of this action and the uncertainty
surrounding the specificity of IP addresses. (ECF No. 6).
filed the pending motion to quash the third-party subpoena on
October 1, 2018. (ECF No. 7). The motion to quash avers that
Doe lives in a three-story residential structure that is
subdivided into twelve separate units and “a large
number of [other] residents . . . may have had access to
[Doe's] router and had ample opportunity to use Doe's
IP address, for their own purposes, without detection.”
(Id. at 4). In addition, Doe lives with at least one
other individual. Thus, Doe contends that “[t]he
likelihood that an individual, other than Doe, infringed [on]
Plaintiff's copyrights is too great to support any
correlation between Doe and the alleged violation that
Plaintiff seeks to prove.” (Id.). Doe argues
that “the risk of reputational injury . . . from public
exposure and association with [Plaintiff's] allegations .
. . is too great and presents an undue burden to Doe under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(3)(A)(iv).” (Id.).
Plaintiff counters that Doe “does not raise any valid
argument to quash the third-party subpoena under Fed.R.Civ.P.
45(d)(3)(A)-(B).” (ECF No. 9, at 4-11). In support,
Plaintiff states that it used recognized methods for
identifying Doe as an alleged infringer, the subpoena does
not subject Doe to an undue burden, its “significant
interest in discovering [Doe's] identity outweighs
[Doe's] slight interest in shielding his identity[,
]” and granting Doe's motion would provide
Plaintiff a right with no remedy. (Id., at 4-11).
cannot move successfully to quash the subpoena by denying
liability. “[I]t is well-settled that such general
denials of liability cannot serve as a basis for quashing a
subpoena.” Third Degree Films, Inc. v. Does
1-108, No. DKC-11-3007, 2012 WL 669055, at *3 (D.Md.
Feb. 28, 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). “For the court to quash the subpoena would
allow a subscriber to prevent Malibu from pursuing a
potentially valid claim simply by denying liability.”
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe, No. MJG-14-0747, 2014 WL
7190812, at *2 (D.Md. Dec. 16, 2014). Additionally, Doe's
“argument that the subpoena presents an undue burden is
unavailing because the subpoena is directed toward the ISP
and not [Doe] and accordingly does not require [Doe] to
produce any information or otherwise respond.”
Third Degree Films, Inc. v. Does 1-118, No.
11-cv-03006-AW, 2011 WL 6837774, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 28, 2011).
court appreciates the potential for undue reputational harm
should Doe's identity be made public, particularly in
light of the possibility that the alleged copyright
violations were committed by someone other than Doe. There is
also potential for a plaintiff to use the threat of
reputational harm to abuse these lawsuits and coerce
settlements. “But those concerns adequately are
addressed by the existing interplay of procedural rules and
this Court's order.” Malibu Media, LLC v.
Doe, No. PWG-13-365, 2014 WL 7188822, at *9 (D.Md. Dec.
16, 2014). Moreover, “despite having dozens of suits in
this District, there is no indication to date that Malibu has
failed to comply with the dictates of the Federal Rules and
this Court's orders, and so there is no reason to depart
from the procedures currently in place or to buttress the
protections for subscribers that already are in
protections the court outlined in its August 21 order protect
Doe's privacy interests and ensure the case does not go
forward improperly. That order provides that Plaintiff must
not disclose Doe's identity publicly absent further order
from the court and “may only use it to determine
whether, pursuant to Rule 11(b), it has sufficient
information to amend the complaint” to name Doe as an
individual defendant. (ECF No. 6, at 5). Further,
“[a]ny amended complaint filed by Malibu naming an
individual defendant shall be filed so that the name and any
specifically identifying information is redacted from the
publicly available court docket, with an unredacted copy
filed under seal.” (Id., at 5). In addition, as
has become customary in this district through the
adjudication of similar cases, Plaintiff is authorized to
depose the individual identified as the subscriber to the IP
address. Finally, Plaintiff may not conduct further discovery
absent a court order, and Plaintiff is prohibited from
engaging in coercive settlement negotiations.
it is this 26th day of March, 2019, by the United
States District Court for the District of Maryland, ORDERED
1. The motion to quash filed by Defendant John Doe (ECF No.
7) BE, and the same hereby IS, DENIED;
2. The clerk will transmit copies of this Memorandum Opinion
and Order to counsel for the parties.
 This fact distinguishes a case Doe
relies on in the motion to quash. See In re BitTorrent
Adult Film Copyright Infringement Cases, 296 F.R.D. 80,
89 (E.D.N.Y. 2012) (“The most persuasive argument
against permitting plaintiffs to proceed with early discovery
arises from the clear indicia, both in this case and in
related matters, that plaintiffs have employed abusive
litigation[ ] tactics to extract settlements from John Doe
defendants, and these tactics distinguish these plaintiffs
from other copyright holders.”). Here, there is no
indication that Plaintiff is pursuing such tactics.
 Doe also purports to move for
“Leave to Proceed Anonymously.” (ECF No. 7, at
1). This is not necessary because the August 21 order