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Multi-defendant law suits, Copyright troll, John Doe lawsuits, Internet Service Providers, Statutory damages, Joinder, Limited ownership interest


This Article proceeds as follows: Part II locates MDJD suits within the broader context of the IP troll debate. It explains why attempts to define copyright trolls in terms of status—i.e., in terms of the plaintiff’s relationship to the underlying IP—are ultimately flawed and suggests a conduct-focused approach based on identifying systematic opportunism. Part II explains why MDJD lawsuits have all of the hallmarks of copyright trolling, and it explores the basic economics of MDJD litigation. It then presents empirical data documenting the astonishing rise of MDJD lawsuits over the past decade. Part III explores the role of statutory damages and permissive joinder in MDJD lawsuits in terms of the economic model developed in Part II. Part III also explains why the economics of this type of litigation are so well-suited to allegations of infringement concerning pornography and presents new data on the prevalence of pornography-related MDJD lawsuits. Part IV presents concrete proposals for copyright reform designed to make copyright trolling less attractive. This Part explains how, even in the absence of legislative reform, district court judges can exercise their discretion over joinder and early discovery to ensure that statutory damages are not excessive and to insist on various procedural safeguards.

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Iowa Law Review