The war on unauthorised downloading has taken a worrying turn, with a landmark federal court ruling this afternoon ordering iiNet and a few other ISPs to hand over details of some 5,000 customers that unlawfully downloaded and then “seeded” Dallas Buyers Club, potentially opening them up for large scale law suites for copyright breaches. From IT News:
In Sydney’s federal court today, Justice Nye Perram ruled that so-called preliminary discovery should be granted to the rights holder, with certain conditions.
To protect customer privacy, DBC LLC will be restricted from publicising the names of any alleged infringers iiNet hands over.
Perram also ordered that any letter sent to an iiNet customer alleged to have infringed copyright be sent to himself for approval.
One of iiNet’s arguments against the granting of preliminary discovery had been around the potential for threatening letters to be sent to its customers, an approach DBC LLC had taken in the US.
Hopefully this decision will not lead to “speculative invoicing”, whereby DBC LLC sends aggressive letters to seeders, threatens legal action, and then demands unreasonable compensation to avoid going to court.