iiNet will have to hand over the names and home addresses of almost 5000 of its customers to a third party that may attempt to sue them for copyright infringement, after the ISP lost its legal stoush with the owners of the film Dallas Buyers Club today.
According to iTnews, Justice Nye Perram granted the application of Dallas Buyers Club LLC for preliminary discovery — the process by which relevant details and documents must be shared with the aggrieved party. In this case, discovery covers the details of the approximately 4700 iiNet customers alleged by DBC LLC to have infringed its copyright in downloading Dallas Buyers Club.
Perram's ruling against iiNet comes with some caveats; DBC LLC will not be able to publicly disclose the names of those it believes have illegitimately downloaded Dallas Buyers Club, and will only be able to use the information it gains to positively identify individuals, to assist in suing them for copyright infringement or alternatively to reach an out-of-court settlement over their alleged liability.
The US-based LLC will have to pay the cost of all the legal proceedings, as well as for iiNet's costs in providing the customer data to its opponent. Interestingly, the data only extends as far as names and physical addresses, so any demand letters would have to be sent via postal mail rather than to customers' email addresses. The letters, too, would have to be sent past Justice Perram for approval before being forwarded onto any alleged infringers. It's not yet clear whether iiNet will appeal the case, but it has 28 days to do so.
The judge's decision to read and approve the content of the letters to alleged infringers — a landmark move when it comes to copyright infringement — is seemingly to reduce the potential for speculative invoicing, a process where the aggrieved rights-holder claims damages of up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars and then suggests a compromise of a smaller amount, basically in order to scare individuals into paying up. If you want to read more, you can learn more on the (obviously partisan) iiNet blog.