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iiNet refuses to give up customers over 'Dallas Buyers Club' piracy

The rights holders behind "Dallas Buyers Club" are pursuing a number of ISPs, including iiNet, to reveal the names of customers alleged to have downloaded the Oscar-winning film.

"Dallas Buyers Club". Focus Features

iiNet is being taken to the Federal Court by the rights holders of the Oscar-winning "Dallas Buyers Club" to reveal the personal details of customers alleged to have pirated the film.

The ISP revealed the details of the law suit in a blog post today, revealing that Dallas Buyers Club LLC -- the owners of rights to the film of the same name -- has applied to the Federal Court of Australia to enact a process of "preliminary discovery" to discover the identities of people thought to be infringing its copyright.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC brought the application to the Federal Court last week, and a number of "prospective respondents" to the case have been named alongside iiNet, including Dodo, Internode, Adam Internet and Amnet Broadband.

iiNet confirmed it will oppose this discovery application, saying it would be an "important test case" for how copyright continues to be dealt with in Australia.

"We believe in treating people fairly and we certainly don't monitor your activities," the ISP said in its blog post. "iiNet would never disclose customer details to a third party, such as movie studio, unless ordered to do so by a court. We take seriously both our customers' privacy and our legal obligations."

iiNet raised "concerns about Dallas Buyers Club's intentions", specifically, that the rights holder would pursue its customers out of court using a practice called "speculative invoicing" -- a process that the ISP said intimidates individuals into paying "significant sums" for their alleged infringement (up to US$7,000 in other regions), or face even higher penalties.

"Users might be subject to intimidation by excessive claims for damages, as made by Dallas Buyers Club in other countries," iiNet said. "Because allegations of copyright infringement are linked to IP addresses, the alleged infringer could be incorrectly identified if details of the account holder were revealed."

In opposing the application, iiNet said a hearing will likely be called next year in which the Federal Court will decide whether iiNet (and other ISPs named in the action) need to hand over customer information. If the Federal Court rules in favour of Dallas Buyers Club LLC, the defending ISPs will be required to hand over customer details.

iiNet said it was concerned that this "would open the floodgates to further claims by other rights-holders, leading to more Australians being intimidated to pay exorbitant amounts in an attempt to avoid improbable litigation".

It is not the first time iiNet has fronted up in the Federal Court -- the ISP faced off against Village Roadshow over copyright infringement claims in 2008, with iiNet coming out on top in both the initial ruling and on appeal.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC has also taken legal action in its pursuit of pirates, with the rights holder pursuing 107 users in the US for allegedly sharing a pirated copy of the film.

The current matter is down for a first directions hearing on November 4.