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Film & TV

Feb 10, 2016

Dare to download: Dallas Buyers Club case over for good

Australians who illegally downloaded Dallas Buyers Club are safe from the long arm of the law, with the company giving up its legal action.

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The law firm acting on behalf of the makers of Dallas Buyers Club has confirmed to Crikey the case will close tomorrow and will not be appealed.

The announcement brings an end to a 16-month saga over attempts by US-based film studio Voltage to get details of customers of iiNet and five other ISPs linked to 4726 IP addresses alleged to have downloaded the film over peer-to-peer file-sharing services.

The court initially agreed to hand over downloaders’ details on the proviso the court would have to approve any letter sent to customers to avoid threatening letters demanding thousands of dollars in compensation, similar to what the company had done in other jurisdictions, and required the firm to pay a $600,000 bond. Voltage was attempting to woo the court to lower the amount to $60,000 to allow it to access just 10% of the customer details in order to show it was not going to take the customer details and run.

DBC wanted to set the terms of the letters it could send to customers, including asking for a fair and reasonable licence fee it could charge customers who were alleged to have shared the film online, and additional damages, but in a Federal Court decision in December, Justice Nye Perram rejected the proposal, stating the demands were not reasonable.

At the time, Perram made it clear that he thought the case had gone on too long.

“It needs to be kept in mind that what is before the court is a preliminary discovery application, not Ben-Hur.”

The judge set a deadline of February 11, 2016, at 12 noon for the case to be automatically terminated if Dallas Buyers Club did not appeal.

Crikey has confirmation from Voltage’s law firm, Marque Lawyers, that there will be no appeal.

There remains a stalemate between film studios and internet service providers over a code that would allow them to send out warning letters to customers alleged to have infringed copyright. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has said he still hopes that negotiations can result in a code being developed, but the two sides are divided over who should pay to send out the letters to customers. Crikey understands that the rights holders have been reluctant to continue negotiations.

A recent freedom of information application seeking meeting requests made to both former prime minister Tony Abbott and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from rights holders groups returned no results.

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