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Dallas Buyers Club investors sue firm suing Australian ISPs

While Voltage wants to know how much alleged infringers earned, it is being accused of hiding from investors how much Dallas Buyers Club earned outside of the United States.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

A dispute over revenues received from the film Dallas Buyers Club is threatening to split the firms currently chasing Australians for allegedly downloading infringing copies of the film.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC originally brought its case to Australia seeking to obtain the account details associated with 4,726 IP addresses it tracked downloading the film over peer-to-peer file services.

In the course of the initial hearings, however, iiNet and the other ISPs involved in the case raised issue over whether the investor company actually owned the rights to the film in question, or whether Voltage Pictures was the true owner.

It was never fully established which firm is the true owner of the rights to the film in Australia, but in February, Voltage Pictures was added to the case by Justice Nye Perram to clear up uncertainty.

Voltage ultimately won its case, and the ISPs will eventually be forced to hand over customer details for the 4,726 alleged infringers.

Now it has been revealed that Dallas Buyers Club LLC is suing Voltage Pictures over Voltage allegedly not paying revenues back to its investors for licensing the film outside of the United States.

Deadline reported this week that Dallas Buyers Club has lodged a case in a district court in Texas against Voltage, alleging that it is owed revenues the film made outside the US, and that Voltage has refused to provide details of its foreign distribution agreements, particularly for pay-per-view screenings and home distribution.

Dallas Buyers Club also alleges that Voltage, acting as its agent in anti-piracy cases around the world, has not paid Dallas Buyers Club any funds or provided any reports from the cases.

The court document alleges that while Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC) is the named party in the case in Australia, for example, Voltage Pictures is the one leading the case.

"The agreement provides that DBC is to receive updates and assist in enforcing these actions. DBC has received virtually no updates, and has not had any input into the actions Voltage is taking around the world," the court document states.

"The only updates DBC receives are through, mostly negative, media reports about the actions of Voltage around the world."

It comes as Voltage in court on Thursday in Australia detailed parts of the letter it will send out to alleged infringers. The company is fighting against including a dollar figure in the letter that must be approved by the court before being sent out, because counsel Ian Pike said there was no "one-size-fits-all" dollar amount that each infringer would have to pay.

It will be determined by a methodology that includes a licence fee that Voltage is alleged to have hidden from Dallas Buyers Club LLC. While Voltage is alleged to be hiding its own income from Dallas Buyers Club, the firm has said it will be asking alleged infringers how much they earn, as well as their download history, in seeking to determine an appropriate level of damages to be paid.

The form of the letter has not yet been approved, and Perram is expected to make a decision by mid July.

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