4,726 alleged Dallas Buyers Club pirates granted reprieve as studio abandons case

The studio behind Dallas Buyers Club has given up its year-and-a-half long legal battle with iiNet, granting reprieve to 4,726 alleged pirates of the film. Managing partner of law firm Marque Lawyers Michael Bradley told iTnews that Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC) would not appeal the court's decision to throw the case out amidst fears of speculative invoicing.

In a landmark copyright ruling made in April last year, Justine Perram ruled that several local internet service providers (ISPs) including iiNet and Internode would be compelled to hand over the names and mailing addresses of customers who had allegedly pirated the film. Access to these details was however contingent on the letters that would be sent to the subscribers in questions.

In a following hearing, Justice Perram said the draft letters put forward by DBC were "plainly speculative invoicing", a practice whereby "the applicants would write to the account holders demanding a large sum of money and offering to settle for a smaller sum which was still very much in excess of what might actually be recovered in any actual suit".

While DBC eventually reduced its claim to the film's price, court costs, and a reasonable fee for upload, Justice Perram dismissed the case over the company's inability to identify what this fee would be.

As such, DBC will not receive access to the names and addresses of the film's alleged pirates.

Justice Perram's ruling sets a precedent where Australian courts will likely scrutinise any future damages claims made by rights holders, requiring them to justify the amounts which they seek to recover from copyright infringers.

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