Culture

Come Out From Your Hiding Places; Dallas Buyers Club LLC Has Dropped Its Piracy Case Against iiNet

The coast is clear, guys.

If you’re one of the people who illegally downloaded Dallas Buyers Club, and then set your laptop on fire and moved overseas under a false identity when it was announced you could be sued by the film’s copyright holders, then I’ve got great news for you: it’s finally safe to come out from your secret underground lair! After an almost two-year court battle, Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC LLC) is dropping its watershed case against Australian ISP iiNet and its customers over illegal downloading of the movie.

Since October 2014, DBC LLC have been in and out of the Federal Court trying to get the ISP to hand over the personal details of all their customers who shared (or “seeded”) the film over torrent networks. iiNet initially lost their defence back in April last year, and was preparing to hand over the 4,726 accused account holders when Justice Nye Perram dismissed DBC LLC’s case in December. After rejecting their damages proposal in August, Perram had been waiting for a second time to hear how much DBC LLC intended to try to claim from the alleged infringers, but he still wasn’t satisfied.

The judge had concerns that DBC LLC would use an intimidating tactic called “speculative invoicing” — where the company demands a sum that is much more than they’re actually owed with the threat of legal action — and ultimately the company failed to convince him otherwise. DBC LLC, who have been collecting hundreds to thousands of dollars using the very same tactic in several other countries, was trying to claim costs for a worldwide non-exclusive distribution agreement, which, in Perram’s eyes, would have made the license fees unreasonably high.

“That factual debate was whether any BitTorrent infringers would have sought to negotiate a worldwide non-exclusive distribution agreement with DBC to authorise their uploading activities or … whether instead they would have rented the film and paid $4.99 for the pleasure,” Perram wrote in his judgement. “On this factual question, I concluded that DBC’s contention was wholly unrealistic; indeed, I went so far as to describe it as ‘surreal’.”

DBC LLC was given until February 11 to appeal the decision, but their lawyers confirmed late yesterday they would not be making further applications as there’s nothing more they can do. “It’s certainly a disappointing outcome for them,” DBC LLC lawyer Michael Bradley told iTnews. “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.”

The outcome is a landmark in Australian online piracy cases, and although it’s a successful one for internet users, the precedent it sets is kind of complicated. As DBC LLC is an overseas company, they were ordered to pay a $600,000 bond (which they didn’t end up paying), but Bradley said those types of obstacles might not be there for local rights holders. “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,” he said.

Either way, there’s probably a pub/online forum somewhere full of BitTorrent users having a very good time right now.

Story via Business Insider.