Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe

Filing 23


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 MALIBU MEDIA, LLC, Plaintiff, 13 ORDER VACATING HEARING DATE AND GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO PROCEED ANONYMOUSLY v. 14 15 CASE NO. 1:16-cv-01067-AWI-SKO JOHN DOE subscriber assigned IP address, 16 Defendant. 17 I. Introduction 18 19 Plaintiff Malibu Media, LLC, (“Malibu Media”) has brought suit against Defendant John 20 Doe subscriber assigned IP address (“Doe”) for copyright violations based on 21 Doe’s alleged downloading, copying, and distributing of some fifty five pornographic videos 22 owned by Malibu Media. Doe, proceeding pro se, has filed an answer, Doc. 19, and now moves 23 to proceed anonymously in this action, Doc. 18. Malibu Media does not oppose Doe’s motion to 24 proceed anonymously. Doc. 22. That motion is set for hearing on May 22, 2017. The matter is 25 suitable for decision without oral argument. Local Rule 230(g) (E.D. Cal.). The May 22, 2017 26 hearing date is therefore VACATED. 27 For the following reasons, Doe’s motion to proceed anonymously will be granted. 28 /// 1 1 2 II. Discussion Generally, parties to an action must be identified by their true names. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 3 10(a). However, the Ninth Circuit permits “a party [to] preserve his or her anonymity in judicial 4 proceedings in special circumstances when the party’s need for anonymity outweighs the 5 prejudice to the opposing party and the public’s interest in knowing the party’s identity.” Does I 6 thru XXIII v. Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058, 1068 (9th Cir. 2000). Anonymity is the 7 exception, not the rule. Id. at 1067-1068. Anonymity is permitted in the “unusual case … (1) 8 when identification creates a risk of retalia[tion], (2) when anonymity is necessary to preserve 9 privacy in a matter of sensitive or highly personal nature … [or] (3) when the anonymous party 10 is his or her intention to engaged in illegal conduct, thereby risking prosecution.” Id. at 1068 11 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). 12 Doe seeks to proceed anonymously to avoid “shame and embarrassment.” Doc. 20 at 3. 13 Avoidance of “social stigmatization” is a “compelling” basis for granting anonymous status. 14 Doe v. Rostker, 89 F.R.D. 158, 162 (N.D. Cal. 1981). Having one’s name attached to the 15 downloading of pornography could result in such stigmatization. The purpose for which does 16 seeks anonymity falls within the above-noted second exception to the general requirement that 17 parties be named. 18 Malibu Media does not object to Doe proceeding anonymously. Malibu Media has all of 19 the personal information regarding Doe that it needs to prosecute this action. Allowing Doe to 20 proceed anonymously will not prejudice Malibu Media. 21 Finally, although the public interest is generally furthered by allowing public review of 22 judicial proceedings, the value of disclosing Doe’s name to the public is significantly outweighed 23 by Doe’s interest in anonymity. See, e.g., Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe, 2015 WL 6116620 (S.D. 24 N.Y. Oct. 16, 2015); see also Malibu Media, LLC v. Funderburg, 2015 WL 1887754, *3 (N.D. 25 Ill. Apr. 24, 2015) (recognizing the risk of enforcers of pornographic copyrights extracting 26 settlements from potentially innocent defendants who may be willing to pay to avoid 27 embarrassment). Moreover, disguising Doe’s name will not obstruct the public in “scrutinizing 28 the … issues in this case.” Advanced Textile, 214 F.3d at 1072. 2 1 2 III. Order Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that John Doe’s motion to proceed 3 anonymously is GRANTED. This action is to proceed against “John Doe subscriber assigned IP 4 address” 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 Dated: May 8, 2017 SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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