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Dallas "Downloaders" Club: iiNet Loses in the First Round Piracy Battle

On 7 April 2015, the Federal Court of Australia delivered a landmark judgement in favour of the rights holders of the award-winning film "Dallas Buyers Club" (“DBC”) over one of Australia's largest service providers, iiNet.

In October 2014, DBC filed an application for preliminary discovery in the Federal Court. This application named six Australian Internet Service Providers (“ISP”) as prospective respondents and sought the ISP’s to disclose the contact details of potential copyright infringers (customers who had illegally seeded (made available online) copies of Dallas Buyers Club).

Justice Perram’s ruling means that iiNet and the other ISPs must reveal to DBC the contact details of those 4726 Australians (associated with unique IP addresses) who have been identified as distributing the film on peer-to-peer sharing sites.

The ISPs have 28 days to appeal the decision.  If they do not, DBC will have the ability to write to customers seeking compensation for copyright infringement. However, any letters sent will first require court approval.

The issue of online copyright infringement and piracy is increasingly becoming a concern in Australia. The result of this application will no doubt set the precedent on how Australian piracy law will develop in the future.

8 April 2015

Amanda Ly & Jason Watson