Dallas Buyers Club has dropped its piracy case against iiNet

It’s finally over.

The copyright holders of Dallas Buyers Club will drop legal proceedings against ISP iiNet and its customers over illegal downloading of the movie, bringing an end to the nearly two year battle.

The law firm representing DBC LLC, Marque Lawyers confirmed late yesterday that they would not be making any further applications after its last bid in December was blocked.

The firm said that there was simply nothing that could be done to get the outcome they sought, so there was no point in proceeding.

After initially finding in favour of the movie owners, but with a stringent set of conditions, Justice Nye Perram of the Federal Court dismissed the Dallas Buyers Club LLC case against iiNet entirely late last year. DBC LLC had until February 16 to appeal, in a now landmark ruling on movie piracy in Australia.

DBC LLC was attempting to get the names and details of nearly 5000 iiNet account holders it accused of illegally sharing the film, hoping to recoup some of the piracy costs.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC was originally granted access in April to the 4726 iiNet account holders who allegedly shared the film over torrent networks.

However Justice Perram put a stay on the order until the studio satisfied him on the details of how they would communicate the alleged infringement to account holders.

He was concerned was a tactic known as speculative invoicing, where the company issues a demand for a sum of money that is often much more than they are actually owed and threaten legal action if the money isn’t paid. The alleged offender usually has no idea what they owe and pay the money to avoid legal costs.

DBC LLC eventually came back in August with their proposed method of communication, including a letter and a telephone call where they would ask for personal details of the offender, including their annual salaries. They would then seek damages for the following:

– The cost of a single copy of the film had it been authentically downloaded;
– A claim for an amount based on each person who had accessed the uploaded film;
– A claim for punitive damages depending on how many copies of non-DBC copyrighted works had been downloaded by each infringer;
– and a claim for damages relating to the costs of obtaining to user’s details.

Justice Perram refused to lift the stay and gave new conditions, including a $600,000 bond for access to the account names.

In December, the company claimed it would then only ask for the cost of an individual license fee, as well as damages for its court costs.

They also said they would also only pay the $600,000 bond in exchange to having access to just 472 names initially.

Each person would have received the same claim amount, rather than claim based on individual circumstance proposed before.

However, DBC LLC was trying to claim costs for a worldwide non-exclusive distribution agreement, which Justice Parram did not agree on, writing in his judgement:

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 infringers would have pursued other courses of action, for example, whether instead they would have rented the Film and paid $4.99 for the pleasure. On this factual question, I concluded that DBC’s contention was wholly unrealistic; indeed, I went so far as to describe it as ‘surreal’.

After ruling that the the license fee requests, as well as damage costs were unrealistic, Justice Parram said, “Some finality must now be brought to these proceedings.”

After two years, they now have.

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