The RIAA has filed John Doe lawsuits against 532 alleged file-swapppers. Because they can no longer subpoena subscriber information indiscriminately, they have to file suit against “the guy with IP x.x.x.x” instead, then get their hands on the person’s real name later on.
UPDATE: The RIAA has posted a sample complaint here. There’s nothing terribly surprising or interesting in the complaint, or any assertions that are facially false. One shaky bit, in the Venue paragraph, is the assertion that, “Although the true identity of each Defendant is unknown to Plaintiffs at this time, on information and belief, each Defendant may be found in this District and/or a substantial part of the acts of infringement complained of herein occurred in this District.” I don’t think they have much basis for this claim. The defendants’ ISPs’ headquarters are in the District in which the suit was filed, but that doesn’t mean any of the infringing acts took place there. This is far from fatal to the suit (venue problems are not going to get these thrown out with prejudice, especially when the identities of the defendants are unknown), but it’s certainly a bit curious.
The other interesting bit is that the RIAA is requesting rather broad injunctive relief in addition to statutory damages. I suppose, were I the RIAA, I would “ask for the world” in my complaint, too, whether or not it trampled fair use rights or ran the risk of sending people to jail for making a mix CD for their friends.
If this strategy turns up the true names of the defendants (and there’s no reason to believe it won’t), here’s hoping they ended up suing someone they shouldn’t have, like Norm Coleman or Fred von Lohmann or some well-funded, trigger-happy trial lawyer with a lot of time on his hands. It would be difficult to put that cat back in the bag.