STRIKE 3 HOLDINGS, LLC v. DOE
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on August 8, 2018. (lcckk1)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
STRIKE 3 HOLDINGS, LLC,
Civil Action No. 18-1431 (CKK)
JOHN DOE subscriber assigned IP address
(August 8, 2018)
Plaintiff Strike 3 Holdings, LLC moves for certain expedited discovery to uncover the
identity of John Doe Defendant and consequently facilitate Plaintiff’s service of the  Complaint.
Doe Defendant, who is currently known to Plaintiff only by internet protocol (“IP”) address
22.214.171.124, allegedly downloaded Plaintiff’s copyrighted content without authorization.
Plaintiff proposes to serve a third-party subpoena under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 on
Doe Defendant’s internet service provider (“ISP”), Verizon Online LLC (Verizon Fios), 1 that
would require Verizon Fios to provide certain identifying information about Doe Defendant to
Plaintiff. Upon consideration of Plaintiff’s  Complaint and  Motion for Leave to Serve a
Third Party Subpoena Prior to a Rule 26(f) Conference, the relevant legal authorities, and the
Plaintiff refers in certain places to Defendant’s ISP as “Verizon Online LLC (Verizon Fios).”
Compl., ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”), ¶ 5; Mem. of P&A in Supp. of Pl.’s Mot. for Leave to Serve a
Third Party Subpoena Prior to a Rule 26(f) Conference, ECF No. 4-5 (“Pl.’s Mem.”), at 1.
Elsewhere, Plaintiff refers simply to “Verizon Fios.” Compl., Ex. A; [Proposed] Order on Mot.
for Leave to Serve Third Party Subpoena Prior to a Rule 26(f) Conference, ECF No. 4-6, at 1. The
Court shall refer hereinafter to “Verizon Fios” in this Memorandum Opinion. However, the Court
takes no position on whether Plaintiff is conflating separate entities, and if so, whether it does so
record as a whole, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion and shall permit limited, expedited
discovery at this time.
A. Factual Context
The Court shall draw on Plaintiff’s representations in the  Complaint for the few factual
details pertinent to this motion. Plaintiff evidently owns the copyright to certain adult motion
pictures that Plaintiff distributes through adult websites and DVDs. Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, 31. Doe
Defendant has allegedly infringed Plaintiff’s copyright protection by anonymously downloading
and distributing twenty-four of Plaintiff’s movies using the BitTorrent system. Id. ¶¶ 4-5, 23.
While Doe Defendant is known to Plaintiff only through IP address 126.96.36.199, this address is
serviced by ISP Verizon Fios, which Plaintiff has reason to believe possesses further identifying
information about Doe Defendant. See id. ¶ 5.
B. Procedural Posture
Plaintiff filed the  Complaint in pursuit of damages under the Copyright Act of 1976, as
amended, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq. Compl. ¶ 6. Plaintiff presently moves for entry of an order
granting leave to serve a third-party subpoena on Verizon Fios prior to a discovery conference
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f), “so that Plaintiff may learn Defendant’s identity,
investigate Defendant’s role in the infringement, and effectuate service.” Pl.’s Mem. at 1-2.
Plaintiff has attempted to provisionally satisfy the Court of personal jurisdiction over Doe
Defendant by indicating that geolocation technology pinpoints Doe Defendant’s IP address at a
physical location in the District of Columbia. Id. at 6. Should the Court grant Plaintiff’s Motion,
Plaintiff suggests that the Court consider issuing a protective order that would permit Doe
Defendant to proceed anonymously. Id. at 8.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A plaintiff who seeks to conduct expedited discovery prior to the Rule 26(f) conference in
order to learn the identity of putative defendants requests “what is in essence jurisdictional
discovery.” Exquisite Multimedia, Inc. v. Does 1-336, No. 11-1976, 2012 WL 177885, at *1
(D.D.C. Jan. 19, 2012). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(d) explains that parties may generally
seek discovery only after a Rule 26(f) conference, “except . . . when authorized . . . by court order.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d)(1). The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
(“D.C. Circuit”) has held that “Rule 26 ‘vests the trial judge with broad discretion to tailor
discovery narrowly and to dictate the sequence of discovery.’” Watts v. SEC, 482 F.3d 501, 507
(D.C. Cir. 2007) (quoting Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 598 (1998)).
To determine whether to authorize discovery prior to a Rule 26(f) conference in a particular
case, courts in this Circuit have applied a “good cause” standard. See AF Holdings, LLC v. Cox
Commc’ns Inc., 752 F.3d 990, 995 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1)); Warner Bros.
Records Inc. v. Does 1-6, 527 F. Supp. 2d 1, 2 (D.D.C. 2007) (applying this standard in John Doe
copyright infringement case). In order to obtain jurisdictional discovery, a plaintiff must “have at
least a good faith belief that such discovery will enable it to show that the court has personal
jurisdiction over the defendant[ ].” AF Holdings, LLC, 752 F.3d at 995 (quoting Caribbean Broad.
Sys., Ltd. v. Cable & Wireless PLC, 148 F.3d 1080, 1090 (D.C. Cir. 1998)) (internal quotation
marks omitted); see also Exponential Biotherapies, Inc. v. Houthoff Buruma N.V., 638 F. Supp. 2d
1, 11 (D.D.C. 2009) (recognizing that “[j]urisdictional discovery . . . is justified only if the plaintiff
reasonably demonstrates that it can supplement its jurisdictional allegations through discovery”)
(quoting Kopff v. Battaglia, 425 F. Supp. 2d 76, 89 (D.D.C. 2006) (internal quotation marks
omitted)). “‘Mere conjecture or speculation’ is not enough” to justify jurisdictional discovery.
Exponential Biotherapies, Inc., 638 F. Supp. 2d at 11-12 (quoting FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Mkts.,
Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1094 (D.C. Cir. 2008)).
The D.C. Circuit has specifically discussed the approach to personal jurisdiction over
anonymous defendants where a plaintiff seeks jurisdictional discovery in a copyright infringement
action. “[U]nder the District of Columbia’s long-arm statute, which along with the Due Process
Clause governs this question, the only conceivable way that personal jurisdiction might properly
be exercised over these Doe defendants is if they are residents of the District of Columbia or at
least downloaded the copyrighted work in the District.” AF Holdings, LLC, 752 F.3d at 996
(citation omitted); see also D.C. Code § 13–422 (domicile in the District of Columbia); id. § 13–
423(a)(3) (tortious injury in the District of Columbia). “[G]eolocation services, which enable
anyone to estimate the location of Internet users based on their IP addresses,” are “sufficiently
accurate to provide at least some basis for determining whether a particular subscriber might live
in the District of Columbia.” AF Holdings, LLC, 752 F.3d at 996; see also Nu Image, Inc. v. Doe,
799 F. Supp. 2d 34, 41 (D.D.C. 2011) (holding that “the Plaintiff has a good faith basis to believe
a putative defendant may be a District of Columbia resident if a geolocation service places his/her
IP address within the District of Columbia, or within a city located within 30 miles of the District
Upon consideration of the relevant legal authorities and Plaintiff’s pleadings, the Court
finds that good cause exists for Plaintiff’s requested expedited discovery. First, the Court shall be
unable to administer any further proceedings in this case absent identification of Doe Defendant.
See Arista Records LLC v. Does 1-19, 551 F. Supp. 2d. 1, 4, 6 (D.D.C. 2008) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.).
Second, Plaintiff has established a good faith basis for believing that Doe Defendant is a District
of Columbia resident. In Plaintiff’s  Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that it “used IP address
geolocation technology by Maxmind Inc. (‘Maxmind’), an industry-leading provider of IP address
intelligence and online fraud detection tools, to determine that Defendant’s IP address traced to a
physical address in this District.” Compl. ¶ 9. Cf. AF Holdings, LLC, 752 F.3d at 996 (finding
that plaintiff-appellee’s “refusal to cabin its suit and corresponding discovery requests to
individuals whom it has some realistic chance of successfully suing in this district demonstrates
that it has not ‘sought the information because of its relevance to the issues’ that might actually be
litigated here” (quoting Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 353 (1978))).
Accordingly, in an exercise of this Court’s broad discretion under Rule 26, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to serve a Rule 45 subpoena on the ISP identified in Exhibit A of the  Complaint,
Verizon Fios, for the purpose of identifying Doe Defendant’s true identity prior to a Rule 26(f)
conference. See Compl., Ex. A (containing file hashes associated with IP address 188.8.131.52).
Plaintiff is permitted to engage in limited, expedited discovery in order to obtain the
identity of Doe Defendant by serving a Rule 45 subpoena on the ISP Verizon Fios that seeks the
true name and address of Doe Defendant. See Pl.’s Mem. at 2. Any information disclosed to
Plaintiff in response to the Rule 45 subpoena may be used by Plaintiff solely for the purpose of
protecting Plaintiff’s rights as set forth in the  Complaint. If and when the ISP is served with
the subpoena, the ISP shall give written notice, which may include e-mail notice, to the subscriber
in question within ten (10) business days. This notice shall take place prior to releasing the
subscriber’s identifying information to Plaintiff. If the ISP and/or Doe Defendant want to move
to quash the subpoena, the party must do so before the return date of the subpoena, which shall be
no earlier than thirty (30) days from the date of service. The ISP shall preserve any subpoenaed
information pending the resolution of any timely filed motion to quash. Plaintiff shall provide the
ISP with a copy of this Memorandum Opinion and the accompanying Order with its subpoena.
On or before OCTOBER 8, 2018, Plaintiff shall file a Status Report with the Court briefly
outlining its progress, including providing an expected completion date for the discovery allowed
by the accompanying Order.
Plaintiff suggests that issuance of a protective order may be appropriate. See Pl.’s Mem.
at 8 (citing Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe, No. 15-CV-3504 (JFB)(SIL), 2016 WL 4444799, at *2
(E.D.N.Y. Aug. 23, 2016)). The “protective order” that the magistrate judge issued earlier in the
Malibu Media litigation appears to have consisted in pertinent part of procedures for notice and
contestation of the subpoena. See id. The Court has already provided above for Doe Defendant’s
(and the ISP’s) opportunity to challenge the subpoena in this case, and the accompanying Order
shall reiterate those protections. It seems that the Malibu Media order also expressly provided that
the defendant could use the window available for moving to quash the subpoena to also, or instead,
request to litigate that subpoena anonymously. See id. The Court finds that such an express
provision is not necessary here. The Court shall reevaluate whether any further order protecting
Doe Defendant’s identity is appropriate if Doe Defendant raises this issue after Plaintiff serves the
subpoena on the ISP. The Court finds, in the meantime, that the opportunity for the ISP and/or
Doe Defendant to move to quash the subpoena provides Doe Defendant with comparable
protection that is more appropriate at this stage in the proceedings.
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For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiff has made a showing of “good
cause” for the expedited discovery it seeks. Accordingly, the Court shall GRANT Plaintiff’s 
Motion for Leave to Serve a Third Party Subpoena Prior to a Rule 26(f) Conference.
An appropriate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
Dated: August 8, 2018
United States District Judge
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