Sony Entertainment Inc. v. Does

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326 F. Supp. 2d 556 (S.D.N.Y. 2004)

Seventeen record companies sued forty unidentified "Doe" defendants for copyright infringement, alleging that the Defendants illegally downloaded and distributed Plaintiffs' copyrighted or exclusively licensed songs from the Internet, using a peer-to-peer network. Plaintiffs served a subpoena on non-party Internet service provider Cablevision seeking to obtain defendants' identities. Four of the Defendants move to quash the subpoena, arguing that they were engaged in protect anonymous speech online. The Court found that individuals who uses the Internet to download or distribute copyrighted music without permission are engaging in an exercise of speech, albeit to a limited extent only. However, the Court also found that such a person's identity is not protected from disclosure by the First Amendment.

The Court applied a five-part test which weighed the need for disclosure against First Amendment interests. These factors included (1) a concrete showing of a prima facie claim of actionable harm; (2) specificity of the discovery request; (3) the absence of alternative means to obtain the subpoenaed information; (4) a central need for the subpoenaed information to advance the claim; and (5) the party's expectation of privacy. The Court found that each of these factors supported disclosure of Defendants' identities.

Chapter 2 - Content And Speech Regulation
Obscenity · Communications Decency Act - Obscene Materials · Children's Online Protection Act (COPA) · Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) · State Attempts At Regulation · First Amendment · Anonymity · International Content Regulation