The makers of "Dallas Buyers Club" could be setting their sights on pirates within the fortnight, as the film's legal team reveals they've asked for the handover of customer information by May 6.
The case between Dallas Buyers Club LLC and a number of Australian ISPs, chief among them iiNet, has stretched on since November last year, and has seen the rights holders to the Oscar-winning film petitioning the Federal Court to gain access to the personal details of internet users suspected of piracy.
In a, Justice Nye Perram ordered the ISPs involved to hand over the names and addresses of account holders matching 4,726 IP addresses, opening the door for Dallas Buyers Club to pursue individual pirates for damages, and setting a precedent in Australian copyright law.
Today, in a follow up hearing covering the judge's orders, including the question of who would pay for legal proceedings, Dallas Buyers Club revealed that it had already set a date for what is known as "preliminary discovery".
Counsel for Dallas Buyers Club revealed it has requested iiNet to hand over customer information by May 6, meaning that more than 4,700 internet account holders across Australia could soon be receiving letters from the Voltage Pictures -- the company that owns the rights to the film.
However, Justice Perram has ordered that the content of any such letter must be first cleared through the court.
While counsel for iiNet petitioned the judge to stipulate what the letter should contain, and Dallas Buyers Club's legal team said the drafting of the letter should not involve the ISPs at all, Justice Perram stated the letter would need to be presented to both parties for "debate".
Justice Perram said Dallas Buyers Club would be required to present a draft of what it intends to send out to alleged pirates; he added that iiNet probably "won't be happy" about the content of the letter but that they could present their reasons for the judge to consider. On the other hand, if iiNet thinks the content of the letter is acceptable then Dallas Buyers Club could go ahead with contacting individual internet users.
However, iiNet today raised concerns that the film's rights holders were not just coming after pirates through the post. Counsel noted the high profile media interviews given by Voltage Pictures, including on Triple J's "Hack" program, saying that comments made in the public area were certainly "relevant" to how copyright infringers would respond to legal action.
"It is highly likely that those who have an interest and who need to respond to the letters in due course will be aware of what's being said," said barrister for iiNet Richard Lancaster SC.
"There should be a specific restraint on the prospective applicants [Dallas Buyers Club]...on saying to the public things to the effect that there is some power or potential for internet services to be shut down," he said.
The case is set down for a further directions hearing next week.