An Uncomfortable Threesome: Permissive Party Joinder, BitTorrent, and Pornography
In recent years, media companies have struggled to combat the rampant growth of Internet piracy and the sharing of their copyrighted works. Lately, some copyright holders have taken to suing hundreds of file-sharers in a single suit. These suits were initially unsuccessful, as courts denied joinder of the file-sharers. The rise of a unique file-sharing program called BitTorrent, however, has caused some courts to give copyright holders a new opportunity to successfully file and settle these mass infringement lawsuits. A central issue in many of these suits is whether joinder of the many file-sharing users is appropriate. Disagreement among courts over this issue has centered around whether a copyright holder's claims against a group of BitTorrent users "aris[e] out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences", as is required for joinder by Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This Comment examines the split that has occurred among courts in analyzing this joinder issue and argues that joinder is not appropriate in these suits.