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Telcos ordered to pay in Dallas Buyers Club piracy case

On the day Dallas Buyers Club LLC wanted access to the details of alleged infringers, the Federal Court has ordered iiNet and other ISPs to pay 75 percent of the costs of the case.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

iiNet, Dodo, and other internet service providers (ISPs) have been ordered to pay 75 percent of Dallas Buyers Club LLC's costs involved in obtaining the details of customers alleged to have infringed on the film of the same name.

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, 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.

This was designed to avoid so-called "speculative invoicing", which Voltage has used in the US to demand up to $9,000 in compensation from users who would otherwise face having to pay potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages under court order.

The ISPs, however, must now pay 75 percent of the court costs incurred by Voltage so far -- excluding the April 22 hearing -- and pay for the costs of flying the company's expert witness, Daniel Macek, from Germany to Australia.

Perram ruled on Wednesday that the costs should be paid because the ISPs adopted the adversarial position in the discovery case. However, since restrictions have been placed on what Voltage can do with the customer details, he scaled back the compensation to 75 percent.

Macek's costs were to be paid by the ISPs because his cross-examination was "ultimately fruitless". Macek had been criticised during the hearings for not understanding the software he used to detect alleged infringers. Perram said that Macek was not required to understand the software.

Voltage had wanted the customer details by Wednesday, but the ISPs now have until May 13 to make applications for security for the costs of providing customer details, while Dallas Buyers Club will have its affidavits in by May 20.

There will be another hearing on May 21 on the form of the letters to be sent to customers, and security costs for the ISPs.

The ISPs had sought to restrict Dallas Buyers Club LLC from making public threats on what could happen to infringers -- referring to a radio interview with Michael Wickstrom, where he said customer accounts could be shut down. Perram said that Voltage's public statements were not a matter before the court, and that the ISPs would need to bring about a separate action.

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