There is a good article by Attorney Ray Beckerman on how the RIAA lawsuit machine works. According to the article:
A lawsuit is brought against a group of “John Does”. The location of the lawsuit is where the corporate headquarters of the internet service provider (ISP) is located.
All the RIAA knows, or believes it knows, about the people it is suing is that they are the people who paid for an internet access acount for a particular dynamic IP address.
The “John Does” may live — and usually do live — hundreds or thousands of miles away from the City where the lawsuit is pending, and are not even aware that they have been sued.
The RIAA is aware that most of the defendants do not live in the state, and are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Court, but bring the case anyway.
… at the core of the whole process are:
(1) the mass lawsuit against a large number of “John Does”;
(2) the “ex parte” order of discovery; and
(3) the subpoenas demanding the names and addresses of the “John Does”.
Nice. But even though it is legally questionable, the RIAA gets around this with their judge shopping, because the orders become “unappealable”
The decisions are not appealable, since they are, theoretically, “interlocutory”. However, it is the RIAA’s usual practice to discontinue the “John Doe” cases, which means that there will never be a final judgment in the case, so the orders will never be brought to appellate scrutiny.
This is how the courts work in America, big corporate interests get their day in court, and the poor fish on the other end pays the bill. Judges let this go with a wink and a nod, and pretend to not understand why people are upset.