Update on the Dallas Buyers Club Saga

Aug 21, 2015
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Dominic Woolrych

As you are well aware, earlier this year, the Federal Court of Australia found that iiNet (along with 5 other ISPs) were obliged to provide the makers of Dallas Buyers Club (‘DBC’) with details of their users who torrented the movie.

If you have downloaded Dallas Buyers Club, there are a few steps you should consider taking.

Recently, DBC pushed forward to obtain these details, offering the Court several versions of the proposed letters. On the 14th of August 2015, Justice Perram handed down his judgement in the Federal Court, refusing DBC’s application and rejecting the versions of the letters submitted.

Here is what you need to know:

1. We won’t be seeing speculative invoicing in Australia.

Justice Perram provided a colourful illustration of speculative invoicing. While downloading Dallas Buyers Club through BitTorrent without permission is unquestionably a breach of DBC’s copyright, sending aggressive letters to infringers amounted to throwing stones at, and breaking, the infringers’ windows – totally unrelated to enforcing a right to get paid.

2. If you torrented Dallas Buyers Club, you won’t be paying much.

You will most likely be liable to pay the purchase price of one copy of Dallas Buyers Club and an amount for what DBC spent on identifying the IP addresses and for the legal proceedings. As it is spread out amongst the large number of infringers, the cost for each individual will be quite small.

3. Some claims for payment have been ruled out.

You will not be paying an equivalent of a licence fee to distribute the film. Justice Perram expressed that the idea of an individual negotiating a distribution arrangement with DBC “is so surreal as not to be taken seriously”. The number of copies of other copyrighted works you torrented will also be irrelevant.

4. DBC will have to put a $600,000 bond to get the infringers’ details.

If the court eventually accepts a version of DBC’s letter to infringers, DBC must put a $600,000 bond to get the details of the individuals to ensure that they don’t send an unapproved version.


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