iiNet Is Taking On The Studio Behind Dallas Buyers Club Over Australian Copyright Notices

Have you downloaded Dallas Buyers Club illegally via BitTorrent? It might serve you well to read this. The studio behind the film is looking to send out copyright infringement notices to Aussie infringers, which may include demands for money. To do it, the studio needs customer names and addresses, but iiNet isn't playing ball and will oppose the action in court. That's right, kids. It's time to take to the high seas once again for iiTrial 2: The Clickening.

In a blog post entitled "Not Our Kind Of Club", the ISP today detailed its plan to oppose a discovery order submitted to the Australian Federal Court by Dallas Buyers Club LLC that asks for the customer details of those who may have infringed copyright laws by downloading the film of the same name.

"One way copyright holders collect evidence is through online investigative bodies that detect the IP addresses (issued by ISPs) of services illegally sharing content and then apply to a court using the preliminary discovery process, to get the personal details of the account holders, using those IP addresses.

"iiNet would never disclose customer details to a third party, such as movie studio, unless ordered to do so by a court. We take seriously both our customers’ privacy and our legal obligations," iiNet said via its blog.

iiNet has decided to oppose the discovery process to block a process known as "speculative invoicing", which basically means that the studio may issue copyright infringement notices that compel them to pay the studio via a third party for the alleged infringement in order to make it go away. Those "fines" can total up to $US7000 in some cases.

Amongst iiNet's concerns a fairly legitimate concern that because none of these cases have been tested in front of an Australian court before, it could result in someone being unfairly treated or intimidated by a studio for something they may not have even done in the first place.

The next step involves the Federal Court deciding whether or not the information ought to be handed over by iiNet to Dallas Buyers Club LLC.

A date for the hearing will likely be set for next year.

This isn't the first time iiNet has landed itself in the Federal Court of Australia over copyright infringement. The original iiTrial ended in a victory, and saw the ISP successfully fend off the now defunct Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft or AFACT which had attempted to hold them liable for the copyright infringement of its users.

At the same time as the ISP re-enters the legal copyright fray, the original iiTrial decision is at risk of being overturned as part of Australia's signing of a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The proposed plan to roll-back the decision forms part of Australia's larger position on anti-piracy which, according to leaked papers and discussion documents, include proposals for site blocking and a three-strikes scheme. [iiNet via Allie Coyne]

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    F'kn love iiNet..! :)

    Aww C'mon... just one more vote..! :)

    Last edited 26/10/14 10:31 am

      What's next, Dot com style tactical response helicopter dawn raids on a 15 year old's house for downloading a pirated copy of Bambi ? Who knows, the USA might even invade Australia if somebody downloads Captain America - Winter Soldier one too many times. And possible sanctions against Australia for downloading Happy Gilmore.
      FU America.

      Last edited 22/10/14 1:50 pm

      Yep, completely agree. Good on the 1 Australian ISP for taking a stand against large corporations abusing their power.

      If only Telstra and Optus could sing the same song, instead of supporting these overseas companies.

      If you support freedom of speech, the right to liberty and standing up for the little guy, then go with iiNet.

      I quit Telstra last month because of what David Thoedy was saying - he doesn't respect his customers.

        They are also fantastic to deal with, even giving me a no-questions-asked extension on my bill once when things were a little rough. Not to mention the little things like calling you back instead of putting you on hold whenever you need something. Really great company that genuinely care about their customers.

          Amen. I couldn't be happier with iiNet. I've been with them for probably a decade, all up, and they have always been excellent.

          Add that to the fact that they are one of the few corporations with the balls to stand up to the BS spewed by shonky industry groups and their rubbish standover tactics and it means they really do deserve your business, people.

          I wish I could still be with iiNet but our area/house doesn't have a fixed copper line so we had to go with Optus Cable. The speed overall is better when it works but damn are they frustrating to deal with if anything goes wrong.

          Don't get me wrong though iiNet's customer service does depend a bit on what time you call; as that dictates whether you get the Auckland call centre or the South African one or wherever else the others are. When I had issues with some installs a couple of years ago the non Auckland call centres were nice to talk to but didn't know their stuff and things got messed up a few times.

      Same here, which is why I chose them as my new NBN ISP. I figured I would give my money to someone who fought for me.

      Signed up earlier this week.

        moving soon and will be getting back to iinet. service was always good. Plenty of help when i had router problems too.

    But...but...this is all part of the campaign against terrorists/paedophiles/drug-runners/people-smugglers/whoever/whatever/and so forth/etc, and that's a GOOD THING...isn't it?

    I'm going to take an unpopular position here: iiNet is doing the right thing by demanding a court order before providing subscriber details, but the studio is also being perfectly reasonable in wanting to address those who downloaded the film illegally.

    There are caveats: IPs don't really match to people; the monetary demands will probably be completely out of scale with the action (akin to demanding thousands of dollars per song shared). However, the motivation is valid, even if the action is somewhere in the junction of misguided and ineffectual.

    All that said, action like this is why I continue with iiNet rather than switching to HFC.

      Personally I don't think seeding your own movie to illegal torrenters so you can sniff their IP and attempt to extort thousands of dollars out of them is really "doing the right thing".

        If they did seed their own movie (I didn't get that from the article, but I may have missed something) then I imagine - but don't know - that would complicate things from a legal perspective. Certainly I agree with you on the extorting thousands of dollars. I think the idea for using such high penalties is for them to be a deterrent, but the reality is that people are so incredibly unlikely to get caught that it is an absolutely hopeless deterrent.

          It doesn't complicate things legally unfortunately, that's exactly how they get your IP address. How else are they going to sniff out torrent packets without your ISP on side other than being a part of the process?

            They can join a swarm already sharing the torrent and then log IP addresses as they connect to download blocks. Unfortunately, P2P sharing is very, very vulnerable to that because peers do connect to peers so need IP addresses to do so.

            They don't need to upload a file and track who downloads it. The ISP companies know everywhere you go on the internet and everything you download. They would just ask for all out personal information and sort out what is their property and sue us for it.

            Use a VPN if you want to do anything silly/left wing on the internet.

        Hollywood's business model is well out of date. Same as the music industry. They should be investing in innovation to stay competitive and relevant instead of trying to drag people to court and fining individuals for downloading their films. If their films were available globally at the same time instead of releasing it gradually to maximize their profits then people wouldn't need to download. Australia is a high downloading country because the producers of shows, movies and music advertise to us and then don't release it to us until much later than anyone else. How many times can one click on a video only to be told "the uploader has not made this film available to view in your country". Seriously, get with it. If you put a barrier in the way of desired content then it's only natural that humans will find a way around it. Not saying it's right, but it is inevitable.

        This issue has been known for decades yet the industry flat out refuses to do business differently and are more willing to waste time and money prosecuting individuals than putting that money into innovation. The industry as they know it is failing. They can't let go of their unrealistic profits in favor of better business practices that actually serve their consumers. This will only continue until the big firms go out of business and the indi firms rise to the occasion.

          I'd say the music industry have done that. We now have more live shows than ever getting the fans in front of artists, as well as the fact basically everyone I know has a Spotify, or Xbox Music or similar subscription, and those who don't buy from iTunes. I barely ever come across people pirating music anymore, because it has got to the stage it's easier to get it legally at a decent price.

          Movie and TV industry however still seem to think it's the 80's, with regionalised distribution models, staggered releases, regionalised pricing with huge differences, etc. They've resisted moving with the times at every step, and what they have done is implemented poorly because they're all so stubborn in their ways.

            Same goes for PC gaming with Steam, I havent pirated a game since 2004

      I would call that quite a fair assessment of the situation really.

      Yeah, on reading the thing in full, I saw a similar point of view.

      The studios 'know'* that someone with an iiNet IP address is pirating their shit.
      They ask iiNet for the information about those IP addresses, so that they can take action.
      That's fair.
      iiNet says, "Cool, but because we get a lot of studios try to do this the shonky way, we'll need you to get a court order. If you can convince a court that there's actually piracy going on, we'll be happy to do what the court says, and we'll be happy that all of this is being done the legal way instead of the stand-over-tactics way."
      That's fair, too.

      Due process for the win.

      The telling part of this story will be if the movie studio then complains that they don't wanna have to go get a court order because it's expensive and they really just wanted the information quickly and quietly without any legal attention so they could issue threats to the users and extort illegal fines out of them under threat of legal action.

      * You can't really know. But it's the best they've got at the moment.

      Last edited 23/10/14 10:00 am

      Oh, here we go... I read the iiNet blog entry and they've made the point that this same studio is responsible for extorting 'fines' from individuals in other countries under threat of legal action. They linked to this article:

      What do you think the chances are of iinet winning this case and not having to pass on any names? I haven't downloaded this particular movie, but if i had, i'd be pretty worried.

    First, is it even legal to collect IP addresses when you're not a law enforcement agency. So they are going to use illegally obtained information in a court.

    Secondly, that someone may have in fact downloaded a file does not automatically mean that the file was valid/playable. If its corrupted in any way then its just a collection of random bits. So it can't be a copy of any copyrighted material.

    Thirdly, in Australia as far as copyright is concerned we have fair dealing provisions. How do they know a downloader is not entitled to view the file.

    Fourthly, just because you have an IP address doesn't mean you have the person who downloaded a file. Perhaps someone was piggybacking off an insecure wifi connection.

    Lastly, a Free Trade Agreement where almost everything has been kept secret from the public, where the terms of the agreement trump our local laws. Yeah, that's the best way for a democracy to work: more money for big business while removing any remaining freedoms/rights the public have.

      1. I believe The ISP you are accessing the internet through has the right to record the IP address it has assigned you.
      2 + 3. I presume that most people downloading a file are also sharing, and allowing others to download the file from them - ie: they are distributing pirated material.
      4. agree with this one and believe there is precedence there, so if you didn't do it then you should and can fight this. But in most cases I have heard of (in the USA) people admit to being the culprit and pay up, as the penalties add up considerably if they can prove it was you.

      Secondly, that someone may have in fact downloaded a file does not automatically mean that the file was valid/playable. If its corrupted in any way then its just a collection of random bits. So it can't be a copy of any copyrighted material.

      Is this the idea behind why many private sites and many public trackers use RAR files? That one single download does not a copyrighted file make?

    I have no idea what Dallas Buyers Club is. I don't think it's something I want to watch... But I am going to throw it into uTorrent as soon as I get home from work today.


      Set in 1985, this film is about a Dallas electrician, Ron Woodrof, who helps people suffering from AIDS get the medication they need after Ron himself contracts the disease.

        So it's about a little guy standing up the the big, mean corporations?


          Ironic hey?

          Last edited 23/10/14 12:51 pm

      Was a pretty good movie actually.

        It was such a great movie that nobody's heard of it.

          I wouldn't say no one's heard of it, it did win 2 of the biggest awards at the Oscars, best actor and best supporting actor. It was also nominated for best movie.

    Love iinet.
    Also how is this possibly enforceable? an IP address just points to a connection not a person and at any rate if you use a VPN it is going to be completely different.

    What are the chances of iiNet winning this round? This sounds bigger then last time but then again, with all the acquisitions of the other ISPs, iiNet is also bigger this time.

    Speaking of, legally can that information be requested from the smaller companies owned by iiNet like Westnet or Internode, even if the infringement occurred before iiNet owned them?

      iiNet would have done due diligence prior to buying Wesnet and Internode.
      Given that they have purchased the trading company and not just the assets, they have inherited their liabilities.

      All of this would have been taken into careful consideration during the acquisition process.

      There might be some cases where iiNet is able to insulate itself from a liability, but I imagine it would be a fairly unlikely circumstance especially if the entire process was carried out properly by both parties.

      One example might be if say the PCs were leased but the seller said they were owned outright. The seller also obscured this by providing false documentation to show that they were owned and destroyed any documentation that they were leased.
      The buyer could seek recourse from the seller, but, yeah, good luck.

      Last edited 22/10/14 4:15 pm

        Is this what he meant? I misinterpreted it as them asking if iinet have the ability to give out customer's details when the infringement occurred with a subsidiary before they acquired said subsidiary like Dodo or Westnet.

    Dallas Buyers Club.
    Budget: $5,000,000 Gross: $27,296,514, didn't they make enough money off this (boring, but my opinon only) movie already?

      Well, it is interesting that I usually only hear about this sort of thing involving films that a) I've never heard of and/or b) didn't make much money.

    Those “fines” can total up to $US7000 in some cases.
    Is that AFACT? Why, yes indeed it is AFACT.

    I have also seen in another story "They've filed a discovery order in the Federal Court in a bid to get names and contact details from five Aussie telcos: iiNet, Internode, Dodo, Amnet and Adam Internet." Does this mean Telstra, Optus, TPG have already given over the names?

      Never going after the big names (especially Telcos) in your first inning in a legal matter, they are picking on the little guys to hope they cant afford / mount a major legal defense to win. Once they have a ruling in there favor, they just have to wave it at Telstra and Optus and hope they comply and not contest it.

      Second if that is there intention to have a test case in court, putting iiNet on the ticket was a major fubar on there part cause they have a well documented position on this matter and have successes fighting this in court.

      Once that floodgate opens, every person in Australia becomes a victim of guilty until proven innocent, harrasment from fines/speculative invoicing and debt collectors knocking at your door without your option to a fair trail.

      And whats to say the datamining is even accurate to begin with, you do a google search to find a picture of say a movie character to put on your phones background cause your such a diehard fan you seen the movie like 10 times in the cinema and own the deluxe box set at home... next thing you know hollywood is fining you a five figure sum cause their datamining says your downloaded copyright material and they claim it was a 2gig copy of the movie even though it was a 2k image.

      And to challenge that fine, you have to counter-sue them in a small claims court and spend thousands with little to no evidence to dispute their claim even if your not in the wrong. People can lose their houses over this in speculative invoicing harassment cases.

    I hope the politicians who sign free trade agreements like the one with South Korea that reduce the rights of Australian consumers, and who monitor and collect everyone's metadata, and put their corporate backers ahead of voters, remember that unlike corporations, we get to vote every three years or so, and that we will remember their actions at that time. I also applaud the actions of iiNet in protecting its customers from these unscrupulous shakedowns by various media companies.

    I recently changed from Telstra to iinet for one reason, being this.

    I don't "pirate" but I completely support any company that goes to bat for it's customers. Keep up the great work iinet!

    I work in civil litigation and in here lies the problem. The company obtains your IP address and details of the registered owner of the account / username owner. The company seeks compensation or threatens legal action. There is 6 other people in the house hold but your the person registered to iinet. You don't pay they summons you to court on a civil platform. You as the registered user then need to proof on the balance of probability that you a. Didn't know someone had downloaded it b. Are not the person that downloaded it. With civil cases it's only a case of balance of probability - 51 per cent likelihood you downloaded or allowed the download of the file. The cost of a solicitor to defend you could run into the 10s of thousands even if you are proven innocent. You can't represent yourself hence regardless of if you downloaded it or not the studio could still speculatively start court proceedings against you.

    Interesting that they chose this movie to make a point of, I wonder if its due to the demographics of the people that are watching it (perhaps a more educated viewer, DINK, higher income level) and thus more capable of being able to pay larger fines.

    Wait, isn't it available on streaming services and Foxtel. So if I downloaded it, never actually watched that version, then watched it on Foxtel, did I break the law?

    Where is the line. Basically I can DVR a version from Fox, or use netflix (not actually illegal or legal I guess) as well as download it.

    I just don't know how this still can be an issue, considering "buying" the movie isn't the only way to see it.

    People should take action, never watch the movie and give a score of 1/10 on IMDB I say. ;)

    Last edited 23/10/14 4:04 pm

    I am just wondering what the "online investigative bodies that detect the IP addresses (issued by ISPs) of services illegally sharing content" referred to in the article means? Technically how would the producers of Dallas Buyers or any other movie know which IP has accessed Bit Torrent or any other torrent site to download content at any particular time? Or do they lay a trap by putting up a copy of the movie on a torrent site and seeing who accesses it?

      They just have to join the swarm for the movie being shared I think. Im not sure if they can then see all the IPs, but they would be able to at least see those that they are connected to.

    Unless the producers started the process of recording IP addresses after getting a court order, they participated and contributed in the act of piracy.

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