In what could be a landmark privacy case, an Australian Federal Court has told six internet service providers to hand over the names of nearly 5,000 people accused of illegally downloading the Matthew McConaughey film ‘The Dallas Buyers Club' - so the film makers can demand compensation from them.
The 7 April verdict by Sydney-based Federal Judge Nye Perram is seen as a blow against internet piracy.
The judge told the six Australian ISPs concerned - iiNET, Internode, Amnet Broadband, Dodo Services, Adam Internet and Wideband Networks – to divulge the details of everyone who downloaded the film from 4,726 unique IP addresses, using the BitTorrent filing sharing service.
This will enable the US film makers, Voltage Pictures, to sue the individuals concerned, if they can prove copyright infringement.
The judge told the film company that the information could, “only be used for the purposes of recovering compensation for the infringements and is not otherwise to be disclosed without the leave of this court”.
Justice Perram also said: “I will impose a condition on the applicants that they are to submit to me a draft of any letter they propose to send to account holders associated with the IP addresses which have been identified.“
The ISPs concerned had argued that handing over the customer data would be a breach of their privacy. But the judge disagreed, potentially setting a precedent in the area of internet piracy and illegal downloading.
However, UK security expert Amar Singh founder of the Cyber Management Alliance, told SCMagazineUK.com via email: “The hardcore pirates and/or movie buffs will find the many ways out there to defeat detection.”
Made in 2013, The Dallas Buyers Club starred Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, who won best actor and best supporting actor Oscars for their performances.