Following a leak of the movie Dallas Buyers Club onto the Internet in January 2013, owner Voltage Pictures took the opportunity to extract cash payments from hundreds of US citizens said to have downloaded the movie.
The practice is lucrative, so much so that the company is now testing the Australian market. Among others, Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBCLLC) are targeting subscribers of iiNet, a local ISP with a reputation for defending its customers.
(DBCLLC) recently applied to the Federal Court to have iiNet and others reveal the identities of people they say have downloaded and/or shared their movie without permission, but to date iiNet (which also owns fellow targeted ISPs Internode and Adam) is opposing the application for discovery.
Earlier today the parties were in Federal Court in Sydney before Justice Nye Perram. DBCLLC wants iiNet to hand over its subscribers’ identities, but the ISP suspects that instead of giving targets their day in court the movie company simply wants to scare settlements out of them.
According to ZDNet, Barrister Richard Lancaster, SC representing iiNet, told Justice Perram that the ISP needs to know more about the anti-piracy tracking system that was used to track the alleged copyright infringers.
DBCLLC hired Stuttgart, Germany based outfit MaverickEye UG, an outfit that claims to provide “world-class surveillance” of intellectual property on the leading P2P networks including BitTorrent. The company also claims experience with other law firms operating similar pay-up-or-else business models.
“Maverickeye UG work very closely with several law firms focused on the protection of intellectual property and specialized in filing legal claims against people who infringe on your intellectual property,” the company says on its website.
It’s now also becoming clearer why DBCLLC selected iiNet as a target. In its prolonged legal battle with movie company Village Roadshow which concluded two years ago, iiNet said it would’ve handed over subscriber information had there been a successful application to the High Court. DBCLLC lawyer Ian Pike told the Court today that he will indeed be relying on those statements.
Next Monday will see another hearing, this time on the issue of security and costs. To ensure that it’s not left with a huge legal bill, iiNet has requested that DBCLLC deposit AUS$100,00 (US$86,700) into a holding account in the event the movie company loses in its bid to obtain the ISP’s customers’ details. That amount is already in dispute with DBCLLC reportedly prepared to put forward just AUS$30,000 (US$26,000).
During December another hearing will determine whether iiNet will be able to call Maverick Eye’s Daniel Macek as a witness to determine whether the company’s anti-piracy tracking system is up to the job of identifying an infringer.
Then, during February 5 and 6, 2015, the full case will be heard. A win for iiNet could mean a significant setback for DBCLLC, while a victory could signal a green light to other companies plotting similar action. In the United States, DBCLLC demands payment of up to US$7,000 (AUS$8,000) from each person it targets.