In a landmark decision, the Federal Court has ruled today that iiNet must hand over customer information of almost 5000 people that the owners of the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club claim to have pirated the film.
Five other ISPs – Dodo, Internode, Amnet Broadband, Adam Internet and Wideband Networks – will also be required to hand over customer information to Dallas Buyers Club LLC.
Justice Nye Perram ruled in favour of Dallas Buyers Club LLC’s application for “preliminary discovery” – forcing ISPs to hand over personal information of customers suspected of piracy so that Dallas Buyers Club LLC can identify and sue for illegally downloading the film.
He noted the need to deter people from illegally pirating material.
“It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that damages of a sufficient size might be awarded under this provision in an appropriately serious case in a bid to deter people from the file sharing of film,” he wrote in his judgement.
The decision will likely see 4,726 account holders receiving letters from Dallas Buyers Club LLC threatening legal action or settle the case with a hefty settlement – a practice known as “speculative invoicing”. This has occurred when Dallas Buyers Club LLC went after pirates in the United States, where suspected pirates were sent aggressive letters saying that they could settle their case for up to US$7000.
In a small win for the ISPs, however, Justice Perram ruled that any letters must be cleared by him before being sent out to the 4,726 account holders in order to ensure they do not feature any abusive practices. He has also ordered that Dallas Buyers Club LLC cannot disclose any of the information handed to it by iiNet and the other ISPs.