DBC waters down damages claim to access alleged iiNet pirates

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DBC waters down damages claim to access alleged iiNet pirates

Won't chase damages for piracy of other films.

The owners of the Dallas Buyers Club film have diluted the damages claim they want to levy on alleged infringers in an effort to get access to account details held by ISPs on the accused pirates.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC was granted access to the 4726 account holders accused of sharing its film online in April this year.

But Justice Perram put a stay on the order until he could be satisfied with how DBC LLC planned to communicate the alleged infringement to the account holders and that the company would not engage in speculative invoicing.

After DBC submitted its proposed method of communication to the court - a letter and a telehpone script asking, among other things, for details of alleged pirates' annual salaries - Perram in August refused to lift the stay and grant the company access to the details.

He ruled two of the four methods it proposed to use to calculate an individual's damages were "untenable".

In its earlier argument, DBC had proposed to include a claim for:

  • the cost of a single copy of the film had it been authentically downloaded;
  • a claim for an amount based on each person who had accessed the uploaded film;
  • a claim for punitive damages depending on how many copies of non-DBC copyrighted works had been downloaded by each infringer;
  • and a claim for damages relating to the costs of obtaining to user's details.

In October, the company asked the judge to release 10 percent of the alleged pirates' names and addresses to convince Perram his concerns were misplaced.

Today the company put forward its argument to be allowed access to the subset of account holder details, saying it would now only claim for the cost of the film ($20), a single license fee for upload, and damages for its court costs.

It has abandoned its push for damages based on how many other, non-Dallas Buyers Club movies an individual had shared online.

One uniform damages claim would be made to all individuals, the company said. DBC LLC had previously planned to tailor it to an individual's circumstances.

However, the company was unable to provide evidence of what a "reasonable" licence fee would be.

DBC LLC put forward a figure in its confidential submission that Justice Perram described as "not modest".

The company cited a case involving a single unlicensed reprint of a stock photo in which $12,500 was awarded in damages, and said its own request for damages was "appropriately modest by comparison".

However Perram argued he had no idea what a reasonable license fee would be, given DBC had not provided evidence of its licensing arrangements.

Counsel for iiNet said they did not accept the confidental figure put forward by DBC LLC as reasonable.

"Part of the problem  ... is that these are massive jumps between various figures," iiNet counsel argued.

Perram refused to give DBC LLC extra time to pull together evidence of what a reasonable license fee would be.

He withheld his judgment on whether DBC LLC should be allowed access to the 472 account holder details until next Wednesday.

His decision will detail whether the company will be allowed to appeal the August ruling, which rejected DBC's proposed method of calculating damages - Perram said he would not allow the case to be pivoted in a new direction without an appeal.

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