IT WAS a landmark case in the war between content rights holders and Australian pirates, but it’s finally over and, in a way, the illegal downloaders have won.
The Hollywood studio behind the legal challenge to obtain the identities of more than 4700 iiNet customers who illegally shared the film Dallas Buyers Club will officially accept defeat today.
DBC LLC, the company which owns the rights to the film, is also known for its global effort to identify individuals who downloaded the film illegally and pursue financial compensation from them by threatening heavy legal action.
The tactic proved successful in other jurisdictions, but the company’s efforts to do so in Australia were beset by a number of difficulties, and in the end it was unable to convince an Australian judge of the fairness of its demands.
Today marks the deadline for DBC LLC to lodge any further application with the court after its last bid in December was blocked by Justice Nye Perram.But a lawyer from the firm representing the rights holders, Marque Lawyers, confirmed late yesterday that the deadline would pass without submission.
It’s over. After what was close to a two-year battle, Aussie pirates have escaped unscathed.
Michael Bradley, the managing partner at Marque Lawyers, told iTNews that the copyright holders would not be filing any last ditch effort to seek compensation.
“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,” he said.
DBC LLC was seeking to obtain the names and details of 4726 Aussie iiNet customers identified as having illegally shared the film through torrent site, BitTorrent.
In December, Justice Perram said the rights holders had failed to follow his suggestion contained in an August ruling to come up with an appropriate way in which to contact the iiNet customers and seek compensation.
In previous cases, DBC LLC had used a technique known as “speculative invoicing” to intimidate offenders into paying a sizeable fine in order to avoid court.
The company was restricted from viewing the customers details until Justice Perram was satisfied they would not go after individuals for huge damages.In the end, they agreed to only pursue the iiNet customers for the cost of the film ($20), a single license fee for upload, and damages for its court costs.
However DBC LLC was unable to convince Justice Perram of what a “reasonable” license fee should amount to.
WHAT DOES THIS CASE MEAN FOR ILLEGAL DOWNLOADERS?
As the saga finally comes to an end, the debate now turns to the lasting impact it will have on the ongoing tension between copyright holders and the users of file sharing sites.
While the decision from DBC LLC to withdraw from the case comes as a final blow to rights holders, Mr Bradley said it doesn’t stop other movie studios from “having a crack” at carrying out similar actions.
“That might happen. But if the circumstances and the context of that are close to this one, then you’d expect the same outcome,” he said.
“But I suppose if a distributor who was local wanted to have a try, then they presumably wouldn’t face the same difficulty with security. You might get a different outcome.”