Pseudonyms Not Permitted in Federal Strike 3 Piracy Case

CAMDEN, N.J.—A magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey recently ruled that pseudonymity is not permitted in ongoing content piracy litigation between Strike 3 Holdings, the parent company of Vixen Media Group, and a "John Doe" defendant who is in the local jurisdiction of the federal district court.

In March, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Pascal ruled in Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. Doe that the plaintiff could subpoena records from Doe's alleged internet service provider of the IP addresses used in connection with the downloads.

But, as Eugene Volokh of's Volokh Conspiracy blog notes, Pascal believes that any argument for Doe to remain pseudonymous is not enough to properly litigate the case.

According to Volokh, one of the only reasons why pseudonymity is granted in cases like these is to protect the defendant from "reputational harm" and any embarrassment associated with illegally downloading pornography.

Pascal wrote in an opinion, "At this early stage of the litigation, Plaintiff has not obtained Defendant's identity, and it is purely speculative whether Defendant would have a reasonable fear of any severe harm from being named."

"This is a reminder of how vague and subjective the rules about pseudonymous litigation can be," writes Volokh, a law professor at UCLA.

Litigation in this case is ongoing. It's unclear at this point if Judge Pascal is indicating that Strike 3 must name the accused Doe for the case to proceed.

Strike 3 Holdings has liberally filed lawsuits against Doe defendants across the country in an ongoing campaign that features hundreds of lawsuits alleging content piracy. 

Torrent Freak reported at the end of December 2023 that Strike 3 Holdings last year filed 3,465 cases in federal district courts throughout the United States.