iiNet claims victory in Dallas Buyers Club case it lost

Sure, we're handing over your data, but you won't have to hand over much cash

Australian internet service provider (ISP) iiNet has proclaimed a victory of sorts in its legal stoush with Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC) and Voltage Pictures LLC (Voltage).

iiNet and other small Australian ISPs found themselves in court after DBC and Voltage secured the IP addresses of alleged pirates and asked for personal details so they could be sent letters asking them to stop it and cough up. iiNet et al were disinclined to hand over details that would have made such correspondence possible, but the court ruled otherwise.

The ISP has now, in a post, lamented the fact it has to hand over data but nonetheless declared the following three decision by the court represent “wins on the board” because they represent “a result that will dent, if not break, the ‘business model’ of aggressive rights holders trying to bully the average consumer based on limited evidence of infringement.”

The three "wins" are:

  • The initial letter issued by the rights holders must first be approved by the Judge. The extent to which the Court is willing to restrict what can be said in the letters will become clearer shortly when the Judge hands down the Court’s orders. The Court has described previous letters sent by Voltage as “very aggressive”. We are hopeful that the Court will ensure that the letters to our customers in this case will be considerably less threatening. If the Court permits it, we intend to continue our involvement in the application to ensure that customers are treated as fairly and reasonably as possible.
  • iiNet will not be required to hand over the phone numbers or email addresses of the customers that appear on the list of people who allegedly shared the film.
  • The rights holders will be required to cover the cost that ISPs incur for sourcing and providing the details.

iiNet's also offered guidance to folks who receive a letter from DBC or Voltage, saying “If you do receive a letter you may want to get legal advice” and noting “The Judge did say that for single instances of infringement that damages could quite possibly be limited to the fee that would have been paid had the film been lawfully downloaded. This could be around $10.”

Those in receipt of letters from DBC or Voltage may also be soothed by news that “iiNet is working with a law firm that has offered to provide pro-bono services for any of our customers. More details will be provided when agreement is reached on that front.” And we'll report 'em here, too. ®

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