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Christopher Bruce

- 13 Apr 2015
  • Commercial Law

Dallas Buyers Club: A Landmark Decision

Last year the US company Dallas Buyers Club LLC applied to the Australian Federal Court seeking disclosure of account details from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for customers, who the company alleges, have infringed its copyright. Australian ISP iiNet opposed the application.

Earlier this month the Federal Court ruled in favour of Dallas Buyers Club LLC’s application. The practical result is that iiNet (and certain other ISPs) may be required to effectively reveal the identities of those customers with IP addresses that have been captured as having shared the film Dallas Buyers Club without consent.

This is the first time an Australian court has been required to give practical consideration to the tactic of ‘speculative invoicing’.  The tactic involves rights holders writing to customers who the rights holders allege have infringed their copyright, indicating that in exchange for paying a defined sum of money, the customer can avoid having to defend the matter in court. The missing piece in the puzzle for rights holders had previously been obtaining the contact information of alleged infringers. This issue may now be solved.

Unlike other jurisdictions, such as the US, the Court will effectively supervise the letters that Dallas Buyers Club LLC may ultimately send to the alleged infringers, to ensure that exorbitant settlement fees were not being sought.

iiNet is considering whether it will appeal the Court’s decision.