A few thousand Australians will get a cease-and-desist of some kind from the owners of the film Dallas Buyers Club after local internet service provider (ISP) iiNet and its co-defendants lost a Federal Court case.
As a result of the loss, Dallas Buyers Club LLC will be able to get the names and addresses of subscribers it believes joined BitTorrent swarms, to send them letters about their alleged copyright infringement.
Justice Nye Perram of the Federal Court of Australia ruled that the applicants "should not be permitted to send what were referred to at the hearing as ‘speculative invoices’ to the account holders" and must also take all due care to protect the privacy of the alleged pirates.
Justice Perram isn't giving Dallas Buyers Club a free hand, however: the letters that go to the alleged infringers – ISP customers associated with the IP addresses collected by Dallas Buyers Club – will have to be okayed by the court.
Dallas Buyers Club will have to foot the bill for getting the names and addresses together, and has also been ordered to pay the ISPs' costs for this case.
Mumbrella quotes the judge as saying that the names and addresses “only be used for the purposes of recovering compensation for the infringements and is not otherwise to be disclosed without the leave of this court”.
The judgement is now available on Austlii, here.
From it, Vulture South concludes that the ISPs seem to have found an uncongenial judge. Most importantly, the ISPs failed to discredit the German Maverick Monitor software used to identify allegedly-infringing IP addresses (the judge criticises the ISPs' lawyers' handling of that part of the case).
The judge also found that “the downloading of a sliver of the film from a single IP address provides strong circumstantial evidence that the end-user was infringing the copyright in the film”, at least enough to warrant the individual being identified in a preliminary discovery process.
The ISPs' next course of action, if they decide to resist, would be to request a hearing by the full bench of the Federal Court.
IP addresses as identifiers have been heavily criticised internationally. Speculative invoicing (with a threat of exposure for downloading pornographic content) was behind the Prenda Law scandal in America, and (sans porn) was also the approach used by long-gone BitTorrent-botherer ACS:Law in the UK. ®