On 7 April 2015, Justice Perram of the Federal Court of Australia handed down his decision on an application for “preliminary discovery” in Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Limited  FCA 317. The Court allowed access to records held by ISPs that would identify individuals alleged to have illegally downloaded a movie, Dallas Buyers Club
Dallas Buyers Club LLC (“Dallas”) is a United States entity which owns the copyright in the popular 2012 movie, Dallas Buyers Club. Dallas made an application for preliminary discovery, a procedure which enables a party who is unable to identify a person who it wishes to sue to seek the assistance of the Court in identifying that person.
Dallas claimed to have identified 4,726 unique IP addresses from which their film was shared without their permission on-line using BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing network. It was argued this was an infringement of s 86 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) which prohibits a person communicating a film to the public without permission.
Dallas did not know the identity of the 4,726 individuals involved in this activity but did have evidence that each of the IP addresses from which the sharing occurred was supplied by certain Internet Service Providers. Dallas sought orders that the ISPs identify the relevant account holder associated with each IP address.
Dallas were successful and the Court will make orders which provide for the preliminary discovery sought. The Court will also impose privacy obligations on the material produced and require Dallas to submit to the Court for approval a draft of any letter they propose to write to account holders.
With this information, Dallas could then commence proceedings against the individuals identified or make other demands of them before commencing litigation.
Cowell Clarke has extensive experience in online and intellectual property infringement matters, including online copyright and trademark infringement. Please contact us if you want to discuss this type of matter or any other intellectual property / information technology related matter.