Only 10 days after a federal judge in Washington, DCsharply limited the US Copyright Group's mass file-sharing lawsuits there, a federal judge in West Virginia has come down even harder on another set of mass lawsuits. Ken Ford, the lawyer behind the Adult Copyright Company, has just had his business model chopped off at the knees; not only did Judge John Preston Bailey dismiss every defendant but one in Ford's mass lawsuits, he also demanded that each case be filed separately and that Ford only submit IP addresses likely to map to West Virginia Internet users.
From his base in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Ford has rapidly eclipsed his mentors at the US Copyright Group. Between September 24 and November 11 of this year, Ford filed nine mass lawsuits against more than 22,000 alleged file-swappers, each accused of sharing pornographic films with titles like Teen Babysitters andTeen Anal Nightmare 2 and Batman XXX: A Porn Parody. Ford's initial lawsuits were releatively small, but he had enough confidence in his method by late October that he began filing against 7,000 and then 9,000 individuals at once.
The judge overseeing these cases has had enough. In a series of orders today that cover all seven of Ford's initial September cases, the judge "severed" every defendant but one. If Ford wants to proceed against all these people, he can do so individually and pay the $350 per case filing fee. (For the cases severed yesterday, this would amount to $1.8 million in filing fees alone.)