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iiNet ordered to hand over customer details in landmark Dallas Buyers Club piracy case

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In what could turn out to be a landmark case, the Australian Federal Court has ordered iiNet and other internet service providers to hand over the details of customer who allegedly illegally downloaded the Oscar-winning film Dallas Buyers Club.

Justice Nye Perram ruled that iiNet and other ISPs including Dodo and Internode, will be required to divulge the identities and addresses of users who allegedly illegally downloaded and shared the film to Dallas Buyers Club LLC.

In one of the biggest decisions against online piracy, the case was centred on users who allegedly not only illegally download the movie but also “seeded” the film to be available to other users peer-to-peer network BitTorrent.

“I will order the ISPs to divulge the names and physical addresses of the customers associated in their records with each of the 4,726 IP addresses,” Justice Perram said in court in Sydney today, according to The Australian.

“I will impose upon the applicants a condition that this information only be used for the purposes of recovering compensation for the infringements and is not otherwise to be disclosed without the leave of this Court.

“I will also impose a condition on the applicants that they are to submit to me a draft of any letter they propose to send to account holders associated with the IP addresses which have been identified.”

What the ruling means is these users will receive a letter from Dallas Buyers Club LLC threatening legal action which can be avoided if a compensation amount is paid.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, similar action in the US saw alleged film pirates facing damages claims of $US150,000  ($AU197,000) unless a $US7,000 ($AU9,200) settlement fee was paid.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Dallas Buyers Club LLC said the format of these letters would be different so they would comply with local laws.

This ruling has the potential to open floodgates for other content owners to claim compensation for alleged piracy.

The judgment comes in the same week when Australian ISPs were due to report back on a Government plan to crack down on piracy by sending out warnings for copyright infringements.

Australians have been known to be among the world’s worst content pirates as fans of hit shows and movies attempt to find ways of accessing those programs as soon as they are aired and released in the US.

Now with the introduction of services like Netflix, Australians have finally been given reasonable, affordable and timely access to the most popular TV shows and movies being produced.