Celestial Inc v. Swarm Sharing Hash et al

Filing 16

ORDER DISMISSING CASE FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION by Judge Dean D. Pregerson. (Made JS-6. Case Terminated.) (cch)

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1 2 O 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 CELESTIAL INC., 12 13 14 15 Plaintiff, v. SWARM SHARING HASH 8AB508AB0F9EF8B4CDB14C6248F3 C96C65BEB882 ON DECEMBER 4, 2011, 16 17 Defendants. ____________________________ ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. CV 12-00204 DDP (SSx) ORDER DISMISSING CASE FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION 18 On March 23, 2012, the court issued an Order Denying 19 Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Take Early Discovery, and to Show 20 Cause Why This Matter Should Not Be Dismissed for Lack of Personal 21 Jurisdiction (“Order”). Plaintiff filed a Response to the Order to 22 Show Cause on March 29, 2012. Having reviewed Plaintiff’s 23 Response, the court finds that it lacks personal jurisdiction and 24 therefore dismisses the action with prejudice. 25 The court will not repeat the entire factual background, set 26 forth in its prior Order. As the court then explained, Plaintiff’s 27 Complaint alleges two bases for personal jurisdiction: 1) “‘[g]eo 28 locating tools’ have placed the IP addresses of the Doe Defendants 1 in California”; and 2) Plaintiff’s copyrighted “film displays ‘the 2 title of the work, the name of the producer, and the Woodland 3 Hills, California address of the producer.” 4 court concluded, however, that Defendants’ first allegation failed 5 to establish personal jurisdiction, because Celestial expressly 6 declined to “make any representations as to the reliability or 7 level of accuracy of IP address geo-location tools,” and provided 8 no “details regarding the tools used or the results.” 9 Likewise, the court found Plaintiff’s allegation that the film 10 displays the producer’s California address insufficient, on its 11 own, to demonstrate that “Defendants expressly aimed their tortious 12 acts against a California company,” as required for specific 13 jurisdiction under the Calder effects test. 14 Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984). (Order at 4.) The (Id.) (Id. at 5.) See 15 In its Response to the court’s Order to Show Cause, Plaintiff 16 provides no additional information to show, and does not appear to 17 seriously contend, that it can satisfy the Calder effects test. 18 Instead, Plaintiff focuses again on its alleged use of geolocation 19 tools to place Doe Defendants’ IP addresses in California, with a 20 new Declaration from the company that Plaintiff hired to 21 investigate the alleged infringement. 22 analysis: 1) the name of the geolocation tool used; 2) the 23 investigating company’s claim that it “is able to sort all IPs 24 captured by state to be able to only use the data belonging to a 25 state requested and believe[s] that in the majority of cases [its] 26 geolocation tools will accurately reflect the state in which an IP 27 address may be found”; and 3) one website’s assessment of the 28 reliability of geolocation tools in general, with which the 2 The Declaration adds to the 1 Declarant “generally concur[s].” 2 reads: 3 4 5 6 7 8 In full, the website assessment Determining the nation of an Internet user based on his or her IP address is relatively simple and accurate (95%-99% percent) because a country name is required information when an IP range is allocated and IP registrars supply that information for free. Determining the physical location down to a city or ZIP code, however, is more difficult and less accurate because there is no official source for the information, users sometimes share IP addresses and Internet service providers often base IP addresses in a city where the company is basing operations. 9 10 Accuracy rates on deriving a city from an IP address fluctuate between 50 and 80 percent, according to DNS Stuff, a Massachusetts-based DNS and networking tools firm. 11 12 13 14 15 16 Even when not accurate, though, geolocation can place users in a bordering or nearby city, which may be good enough for the entity seeking the information. This happens because a common method for geolocating a device is referencing its IP address against similar IP addresses with already known locations. (Decl. at 2-3.) The court finds these additional allegations insufficient to 17 establish personal jurisdiction. Even taking the allegations as 18 true, Plaintiff has only shown personal jurisdiction to be somewhat 19 more likely than not. 20 conclusory claim that it believes it can correctly identify the 21 state where an IP address is located in the “majority” of cases. 22 Likewise, the referenced website claims that geolocation beyond the 23 national level is “more difficult and less accurate,” with accuracy 24 rates between 50 and 80 percent at the municipal level, and perhaps 25 somewhat higher at the state level. 26 on Plaintiff’s own reliability claims, there may still be a 20 to 27 50 percent chance that this court lacks jurisdiction. The investigating company makes the 28 3 To put it another way, based 1 Further, given the Doe Defendants’ inability to contest 2 Plaintiff’s jurisdictional claims, the court finds the generalized 3 and conclusory nature of the allegations particularly concerning. 4 Again, having previously declined to make any representations as to 5 the accuracy of geolocation tools, Plaintiff still goes no further 6 than to “generally concur” with one website’s general assessment of 7 geolocation tools, which itself cites to another firm for the only 8 accuracy rates provided. 9 sentence accuracy statement is conclusory and vague, expressing the Equally, the investigating company’s one- 10 company’s unsubstantiated belief in state-level accuracy an 11 unspecified majority of the time. 12 suggestion in its Order to Show Cause, Plaintiff has again failed 13 to provide any test results or details regarding the specific 14 geolocation tool that it used. 15 Indeed, despite this court’s Finally, Plaintiff argues that it is “simply premature to 16 fully analyze the issue of personal jurisdiction,” and that the 17 “court must allow jurisdictional discovery.” 18 contends that the only way to move forward on either front is for 19 the court to authorize Plaintiff to subpoena Doe Defendants’ 20 identities and addresses from the relevant Internet service 21 providers. 22 determined until Plaintiff identifies the Doe Defendants and names 23 them in an amended complaint.”); id. at 9 (“[I]dentifying the name 24 and address of the Internet subscriber will likely resolve the 25 question of . . . personal jurisdiction . . . .”).) 26 Plaintiff also (See Response at 4 (“[Personal jurisdiction] cannot be The court disagrees. As discussed, Plaintiff could have 27 provided actual test results and details specific to its 28 geolocation tools. If necessary and available, Plaintiff might 4 1 also have used more reliable technology. 2 advanced geolocation tools were simply too unreliable to adequately 3 establish jurisdiction, the court could not set aside 4 constitutional concerns in favor of Plaintiff’s desire to subpoena 5 the Doe Defendants’ identifying information. 6 First Amendment that requires courts to ensure complaints like this 7 one would at least survive a motion to dismiss, before the court 8 authorizes early discovery to identify anonymous internet users. 9 However, even if the most Again, it is the For all the reasons discussed, the court again finds that 10 Plaintiff’s Complaint would not survive a motion to dismiss for 11 lack of jurisdiction. 12 make an adequate jurisdictional showing in response to the court’s 13 Order to Show Cause, the court finds that it lacks jurisdiction 14 over this action and dismisses it with prejudice. Because Plaintiff has now also failed to 15 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 18 19 Dated: May 1, 2012 DEAN D. PREGERSON United States District Judge 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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