Alleged Dallas Buyers Club Pirates To Be Asked For Employment, Income And Health Details

from the sure-you-don't-want-anything-else? dept

In the previous instalment of the long-running saga involving alleged pirates of the Dallas Buyers Club film in Australia, the court agreed that Australian ISP iiNet should hand over information about its customers. But it added an important proviso: the letter and telephone script to be used to contact and negotiate with them had to be approved by the court first in an effort to prevent "speculative invoicing" of the kind all-too familiar elsewhere.

Last week, more details emerged in another court hearing before the same judge. He was was concerned that the proposed letter from Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC) and Voltage Pictures LLC, the film's foreign sales agent -- which DBC is currently suing (pdf), in another twist in the plot -- would not quote a specific figure that those supposedly infringing would be asked to pay, as the Australian Financial Review reported:

Judge Nye Perram said he was concerned DBC was effectively being given a blank cheque, by not stipulating a dollar figure, which could allow the company to ask for a "very high number".

"I need comfort that you aren't going to extort these people," Judge Perram said.
The judge also refused a request by DBC that the draft letter and telephone script should be withheld from the public -- DBC claimed that doing so "could weaken the company's bargaining position and reveal to alleged infringers how they could reduce the penalties sought." As a result, The Sydney Morning Herald obtained copies of both the letter and the script, and published some interesting details. For example, the letter expects parents to shop their own children:
"If the person whom you believe to have engaged in Piracy is under 18 years of age, then please provide us with the full name and address of that person, confirm that that person is under 18 years of age, confirm whether you are the parent or guardian of that person and whether you are authorised to engage with us on behalf of that person," the letter will demand.
The proposed telephone script for people who ring the number given in the initial letter is even more extraordinary:
Callers who admit to the downloads will be asked to provide detailed personal answers including their employment status, whether or not they have a terminal illness, what their annual income is and whether or not they're serving in the military.
It will also ask the callers to incriminate themselves further:
"How many titles do you have available now and in the past on the BitTorrent network?" call centre operators will ask, according to the script.
It's not yet clear whether the judge will allow these incredibly intrusive questions -- he's expected to hand down his ruling next month. But it's an indication of the approach that DBC wants to take, and yet another reason why those receiving these emails should consider seeking legal advice, as The Sydney Morning Herald notes in a useful article on the topic.

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Filed Under: australia, copyright, copyright trolling, extortion, letter, shakedown
Companies: dallas buyers club, voltage pictures

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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 1:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Abolish Copyright

    "Why would they even attempt to do so, when there are more people clamoring for their services than they can deal with."

    Why would they do it? Really? Look at how many movies they're remaking over and over. This is not an industry of ideas, at least not at the studio executive level. Now imagine that they get to remake any movie, or adapt any work, without having to licence or pay a single cent to the original creator.

    There's stories all the time of people getting ripped off by studios, be it getting screwed out of royalties for work they did by "Hollywood accounting", ideas being stolen wholesale (look into the story behind Gravity, for example) and many other ways. Now imagine if they were legally allowed to do any of these things. Of course, you can argue that the smaller guys could do the same thing, but it's not likely to happen in a way that stops works literally being stolen for profit by the majors.

    It's also likely to have a detrimental effect on the art itself, since the guys in it for profit would still make money but the ones doing it for the art might not even get credited for their own work, let alone paid. Sadly, the unwashed masses don't normally care enough to get behind the little guy either, not when there's a new shiny thing for sale.

    "The reason that the legacy industries keep attacking Google and the Internet is not because piracy is hurting their profits, but because the rising tide of self publishing, and its discovery by more and more people, is competition that they do not know how to deal with other than shutting it down."

    This is all true. But, that doesn't change the fact that abolishing copyright and replacing it with nothing would be a very, very bad idea. We need to change the way the system's been gamed in the corporations' favour, not shut it down entirely.

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