ISPs left with bill after Dallas Buyers Club court clash

Federal Court ruling means ISPs will pay 75 per cent of Dallas Buyers Club LLC's costs

iiNet and the other Internet service providers will have to pay the majority of the costs related to court proceedings involving Dallas Buyers Club LLC.

Justice Perram today ruled in the Federal Court that the ISPs should pay 75 per cent of the costs of the proceedings, which centred on an attempt by DBC LLC and parent company, Voltage Pictures, to obtain access to the details of ISP customers it alleges illicitly downloaded the movie Dallas Buyers Club.

The initial ruling would have saddled DBC with the costs of proceedings but the judge today made orders on costs that will also see the ISPs liable for paying the cost of flying out Maverick Eye witness Daniel Macek to give evidence.

Maverick Eye is a German company responsible for operating software that generated a list IP addresses that were allegedly linked to unauthorised BitTorrent downloads of Dallas Buyers Club.

The “adversarial” approach of the ISPs drew out proceedings "therefore, I accept, contrary to my initial disposition, that the applicants should have their costs,” Perram ruled.

“The rider to this is that Dallas Buyers Club’s victory was itself less than complete,” the ruling adds.

“In particular, over its objection, I have required that any letter it proposes to send to account holders first be submitted to this Court for approval. The amount of court time this issue occupied at the hearing was relatively modest, however in those circumstances I propose to order the ISPs only to pay 75% of Dallas Buyers Club’s costs.”

DBC has to provide a proposed letter by 13 May.

One of the reasons iiNet gave for opposing the DBC attempt to obtain ISP customer details is that it feared they would be subject to the practice of ‘speculative invoicing’, whereby a letter is sent demanding a significant sum of money in return for impunity from any potential legal action relating to copyright infringement.

iiNet has accused Voltage Pictures of engaging in the practice in other jurisdictions.

Perram previously indicated he would oversee the final form of any letter sent to account holders.

"The appropriate course is for Dallas Buyers Club to formulate a draft letter for the Court’s consideration,” the ruling today states.

“When the letter is in a form which is satisfactory I will then require the ISPs to give the account holder information sought to Dallas Buyers Club, on its undertaking to send a letter only in that form.”

"As the ISPs correctly submit, it should not be assumed that every recipient has engaged in infringement,” the ruling states.

“On the other hand, it would be to engage in fantasy to think that some of them have not.”

The discovery order will be stayed until the issue of security for the ISPs’ costs of complying with it is settled

A further hearing will be held on 21 May.

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