The landmark case that pit iiNet against Dallas Buyers Club LLC is over, with the Federal Court yesterday ruling in favour of the rights holder. You’ve probably read a lot about letters being sent out, but don’t flee the country just yet. Here’s what happens now.
Less than 24 hours ago Justice Nye Perram handed down a judgment that would compel iiNet, Internode, Adam Internet and Dodo Internet to comply with 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.
Despite the fact that Justice Perram has handed down the ruling, a lot of balls are still in the air here. According to the experts, we’re still in a wait-and-see phase.
The concern of many who downloaded Dallas Buyers Club is that they’re about to get a letter in the mail which says they’ve been caught pirating the film. The reality is a little more complicated. We reached out to Trish Hepworth from the Australian Digital Alliance to break it down for us.
First of all, it’s worth noting that you may not even get a letter from the Dallas Buyers Club people for downloading their film: the judgment handed down yesterday applies to those who seeded the film, according to Hepworth.
“For people who just downloaded the film, nothing [happens] today. For people who used BitTorrent and ‘seeded’, (i.e. made the files available to others in the process), the ISPs may have to provide the information that links the IP addresses detected with the account holder details,” Hepworth said.
Even if you are on the list to get a letter, it won’t come for a while. As Hepworth points out, so-called final orders in the case aren’t being issued until 21 April, which means “we will have greater clarity around matters such as the privacy protections that the Judge will require” from that point on, Hepworth tells us.
Furthermore, we don’t even know what the letters being sent out to the 4700 alleged pirates will ask for.
iiNet fought Dallas Buyers Club LLC in the Federal Court to prevent so-called “speculative invoicing”, which basically means that the studio may issue copyright infringement notices that compel alleged pirates 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.
Despite the fact that iiNet lost this case, the ISP has said it’s happy with the ruling simply because it limits the amount of speculative invoicing that can take place. Hepworth explains:
“We know that in other jurisdictions a process referred to as ‘speculative invoicing’ has occurred, where people are sent a letter indicating they have a very large financial liability and offering to settle for a much smaller (but still substantial sum). However the Judge in this case, has said he will impose conditions to prevent speculative invoicing. To enforce those, he will order [Dallas Buyers Club LLC] to submit a draft of the letter to the court for approval.”
If at the end of the day you do get a letter, other experts recommend to consult legal counsel. There are a series of loopholes you can explore as well.
Will this ruling keep you from pirating content? Why? Why not? Tell us in the comments!
Campbell Simpson also contributed to this report.