Court rejected call by producers of Oscar-winning drama to be allowed to unmask 4,726 alleged Australian pirates of the movie..
After a two-year battle, a landmark case against Australian internet users accused of illegally downloading the film Dallas Buyers Club has been dropped by the plaintiff, DBC LLC.
The company announced that it had decided not to appeal against a ruling from a federal court in December that rejected a proposal for contact between the film company and alleged downloaders
The case, which began in October 2014, has focused on internet service provider iiNet, which initially refused to hand over the personal details of the customers accused of sharing the film using the bittorrent protocol.
Almost 5,000 customers were accused by DBC of sharing the film, and in April 2015 the ISP lost in a federal court, nearly forcing it to accede and part with the data.
But in December, a second judge dismissed the bid, calling the earlier proposals “wholly unrealistic” and “so surreal as to not be taken seriously”.
The battle over the identities of the suspected downloaders has been seen as an attempt to prevent DBC, a single-purpose company set up by the film’s producers Voltage Pictures, from engaging in “speculative invoicing”. That practice involves sending alleged infringers letters demanding a significant sum under threat of legal action.
The April proposals to unmask the 4,726 alleged pirates thus came with a set of conditions, including a requirement that any proposed contact between Voltage and the users had to be approved by the court. In August, Voltage suggested that it be allowed to send a letter and phone call to the alleged pirates asking for personal information, including their salaries.
It also proposed to seek damages for the cost of a single, legitimate download of the film; the cost of obtaining the customer’s details; the number of people who had accessed the uploaded film; and how many non-Voltage films had been downloaded from torrent sites.
Those proposals were rejected, and in December a further proposal, limiting the damages to just a single penalty rather than one based on downloaders’ individual circumstances, was also rejected. Voltage was given until 11 February to appeal, but declined to do so.
The company’s lawyer, Michael Bradley, told iTnews that “It’s certainly a disappointing outcome for them. It doesn’t do anything to mitigate the infringement that’s going on – it’s not a particularly satisfactory outcome from that point of view.”