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iiNet to offer pro-bono services to Dallas Buyers Club infringers

iiNet has said it will alert the customers who have had their names and details handed over to Voltage Pictures for alleged online copyright infringement and will work to provide pro-bono legal services to customers.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

iiNet is working with a law firm to provide pro-bono legal services to customers alleged to have downloaded an infringing copy of Dallas Buyers Club and will soon get a letter in the mail from the studio behind the film.

In April, Justice Nye Perram ordered iiNet, Dodo, and four other ISPs to hand over the details of account holders associated with 4,726 IP addresses alleged to have downloaded Dallas Buyers Club over peer-to-peer services between April 2, 2014 and May 27, 2014, but with a catch: Voltage would need to pay the costs for the ISPs, and the court must see a draft of the letters to be sent out to customers before any details would be handed over.

In a blog post by iiNet's financial controller and company secretary Ben Jenkins, the company revealed it would be alerting customers affected at the time it hands over the contact details in advance of Voltage Pictures sending out letters.

iiNet stated that it is "now certain" that the company will be ordered to provide the details shortly after May 21 -- the next court date for the case -- but the court will still need to approve the letter before it is sent out to customers.

Customers who receive a letter have been told by iiNet that if they wish to seek legal advice, then the ISP is working with a law firm to provide pro-bono services.

"If you do receive a letter you may want to get legal advice. iiNet is working with a law firm that has offered to provide pro-bono services for any of our customers. More details will be provided when agreement is reached on that front," Jenkins stated.

iiNet has said that based on Perram's judgment, the damages sought by Voltage could be as low at AU$10.

The company said that the conditions placed on the rights holder in the Dallas Buyers Club case might deter others from following that path, but said that any such cases would vary from case to case.

Although iiNet said it was focused on the industry copyright code, which should preempt rights holders going to court, the company acknowledged that preliminary discovery as in the Dallas Buyers Club case was still an option open to rights holders.

The government's recently-passed mandatory data retention legislation would also make it easier to access stored data, iiNet warned.

"You should be aware, however that the federal government is changing the law to increase the ability for government agencies to access your information without a court order or warrant," Jenkins said.

Earlier this month, iiNet and the other ISPs involved in the case were ordered to pay 75 percent of Voltage Pictures' costs.

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