Australian internet pirates may soon be receiving a legal notice in the mail if they downloaded Dallas Buyers Club, with a draft notice being released showing that the letter pirates receive will not be a fine, but a request to contact the film’s rights holders to discuss a settlement amount.
The draft letter from Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC) to internet account holders, and the telephone Q&A script which DBC will use when in contact with alleged pirates, has emerged after Federal Court Justice Nye Perram decided they should be released as evidence. Both the script and the legal letter have been obtained by Mashable Australia, and are available to view, below.
Dallas Buyers Club LLC won a landmark case in April to obtain details of 4,726 internet users who illegally uploaded the film through Australian internet service providers (ISPs).
There has been speculation over the details of the letter which is to be sent to infringers, with ISPs arguing that forcing them to hand over customer details might put customers at risk of “speculative invoicing” — where large sums are demanded from the infringer, who is told they will not be taken to court if they pay up.
According to DBC’s draft letter to infringers, users will be charged for damages resulting from the uploading/downloading of the movie, damages for legal costs for obtaining account information and any additional damages. If DBC takes legal action, the infringer will be responsible for those legal costs as well.
According to DBC’s draft telephone Q&A script, the kinds of questions infringers might be asked if they choose to discuss a settlement include:
Are you unemployed, disabled or suffering from terminal illness?
Are you currently employed and on what basis?
What is your annual income?
How long have you been using the BitTorrent network?
Did you download DBC on the BitTorrent network? If so, when? If not, how did you get it on your computer to make it available to other on the BitTorrent network?
How many titles do you have available now and in the past on the BitTorrent network?
DBC’s proposed settlement amounts will depend on each accused infringer’s answers to these questions, and other circumstantial details DBC may ask for.
It is unclear if wealthy and regular BitTorrent users will face higher settlement amounts, but as DBC’s draft letter notes, “It is not simply a question of paying for the price of obtaining a copy of the film. On peer to peer networks, any work file shared is made available to hundreds, if not thousands of persons, thereby giving a potential claim for damages in respect of multiple copies of our client’s work.”
As CNET reports, Senior Counsel for ISP iiNet, Richard Lancaster, told court on Thursday that DBC’s telephone script is too forceful, saying, “[This is not] a royal commission into end users use of the BitTorrent network. This is a case about “Dallas Buyers Club” the film. There should not be this kind of collection of material over the phone.”
Ian Pike, senior counsel representing DBC, countered with, “We seem to be in a slightly parallel universe about what this letter is. It is not a letter being sent on a court letterhead… there is nothing in the letter or the script that oversteps the mark.”
Copyright lawyers have warned that the DBC Federal Court ruling demanding ISPs hand over customer details could deter ISPs from fighting similar cases in the future, and could change how similar cases are handled.
View DBC’s draft letter to alleged infringers and draft telephone Q&A script, below.