iiNet will offer free legal advice to customers targeted by Dallas Buyers Club over piracy claims, with the internet service provider saying it "couldn't sit by and have our customers potentially bullied by the process of speculative invoicing."
In a blog post published on the company's website, iiNet Financial Controller Ben Jenkins said a recent Federal Court decision would require the telco to hand over the names and physical addresses of customers alleged to have torrented and infringed copyright on the Oscar-winning film "Dallas Buyers Club."
While conceding this "isn't the best case scenario," iiNet reminded customers that a letter from the film's rights holders, Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures, wasn't necessarily the end of the road.
"It is important to remember that the Court's findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage's allegations of copyright infringement have been proven," Jenkins wrote. "Any such letter is still only an allegation until an infringement is proven or admitted."
The ISP says it will inform customers if their details are passed on to Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage and this will occur at the same time that those details are handed over. As for what happens next, iiNet is getting on the front foot to assist its customers.
"If you do receive a letter you may want to get legal advice," the blog post read. "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."
iiNet said damages could come down to as little as AU$10 or "less than a parking ticket" for single instances of infringement -- essentially equivalent "to the fee that would have been paid had the film been lawfully downloaded."
With Dallas Buyers Club going after pirates who torrented the film between April 2 and May 27, 2014, it may be too late for some internet users (iiNet even goes as far as saying that changing ISPs "will not make a difference" in terms of the legal wheels that are in motion). However, the ISP insists that the Dallas Buyers Club court case has seen some positive outcomes.
"Although there are any number of rights holders who can take action like this, given the process and outcome in this case we're hopeful that the strict conditions will reduce the likelihood of similar applications being made in the future," the company said.
"We're proud of the fact we took these guys on and while rights holders may claim a win on paper, we certainly achieved a result that will dent, if not break, the 'business model' of aggressive rights holders trying to bully the average consumer based on limited evidence of infringement."