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Dallas Buyers Club case: iiNet to offer free legal services as details handover date approaches

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iiNet will have to hand over customer information shortly after 21 May, 2015, as a result of legal action taken by Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC) and Voltage Pictures LLC (Voltage), and they’ve decided to offer pro-bono legal services to support alleged infringers. 

The Dallas Buyers Club copyright case resulted in the Federal Court ordering ISPs, including iiNet, Internode, Dodo, Wideband, Adam Internet, and Amnet Broadband, to release the details of customers who had allegedly downloaded the picture.

“It’s now certain that shortly after 21 May 2015 iiNet will be ordered to hand over the name and physical address details of customers whose accounts are suspected of being used to infringe copyright,” iiNet wrote in a blog post.

“While this isn’t the best case scenario, any subsequent letters that are issued by the rights holders will need to be approved by the Court before they are sent to customers. It is important to remember that the Court’s findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage’s allegations of copyright infringement have been proven. Any such letter is still only an allegation until an infringement is proven or admitted.”

The company has penned a FAQ on its website, clarifying what the judgment will mean for those on the list of alleged infringers.

iiNet says that customers will be informed at the exact same time their details are handed over to DBC and Voltage and that a law firm is currently being sourced in order to provide pro-bono services. Further details will be released when these legal services are locked in.

Although a May date was requested for customer details, a cut-off date has yet to be decided. Alleged infringers are being told that they may still not be in the clear once May is over.

In terms of how much alleged infringers will have to pay, Justice Perram said “damages are likely to be modest and quite possibly limited to the foregone licence fee that would have been paid had the film been lawfully downloaded.” iiNet estimates “this could be around $10.”

When discussing the possibility of a similar court action occurring in the future, iiNet is optimistic. The company says, while rights holders are free to take legal action like this again, they hope the strict conditions and prolonged process “will reduce the likelihood of similar applications being made in the future.”

The landmark case highlights what many consider to be a big step towards a bleak future when it comes to data privacy, especially as the Government continues to move on advancing metadata laws and data retention becomes a focus of Government spending.

iiNet stands firmly by their decision to fight the rights holders, saying:

“We’re proud of the fact we took these guys on and while rights holders may claim a win on paper, we certainly achieved 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.”