After more than 15 months winding its way through the Federal Court, the case between Dallas Buyers Club and iiNet is finally over, with lawyers for the film's rights holders opting not to take further legal action in its pursuit of pirates.
In April last year, DBC was granted the right to the personal details of those alleged to have pirated the Oscar-winning film. However, in August Justice Perram ordered that DBC would only be able to seek damages for the cost of purchasing the film and costs related to obtaining pirates' details.
While DBC turned down its right to appeal this decision, saying it was still seeking "additional damages," Perram J called for "some finality" in December, giving the rights holders until February 11 to make further applications to the court. Now, that date has arrived and DBC has decided to call it quits.
But the film's legal team haven't completely rolled over on the matter, and say that there's still plenty of steam left in the piracy debate in Australia.
Michael Bradley, managing partner of Marque Lawyers (the firm that represented the rights holders) today told CNET that DBC's decision was a purely commercial one, "based on the costs and benefits of taking the case further."
Bradley warned that the stoush with iiNet had set a precedent that would make it "extremely difficult" for film studios and other rights holders to pursue "large scale infringements."
"The judge's decisions rendered it uneconomic and impractical to try to get identifying information from ISPs in large numbers," said Bradley.
And while the case trod plenty of ground on how much pirates would have to pay (much of it speculation based on what the money DBC has sought in other regions), Bradley said the case had provided no guidance on infringers' liability.
Justice Perram did outline possible damages that DBC could claim, but Bradley said the case involved "no direct evidence of any specific infringer's conduct." As a result, it would probably take an actual court case against someone accused of piracy before we could get any sense of what kind of penalties downloaders might face.
Until then, we have a case that ran for 15 months and gave film producers the right to get pirates' details, but not much in the way of actual financial penalties.
"Obviously, this is all extremely frustrating for rights holders because they know their IP is being pirated, serially and on a massive scale," said Bradley. "They know it's possible to identify who's doing it. While the copyright law remains as it is, their rights won't go away and I expect they'll continue to seek a practical way to enforce them.
"Waiting for legislative reform in IP is a lot like waiting for Godot. We'll be up to Dallas Buyers Club 7 by then."
It sounds like we haven't heard the last from the film studios. And if torrenting numbers are anything to go by, we certainly haven't heard the last from the pirates.