Last week, the Federal Court of Australia ruled in favour rights holders, mandating that ISPs disclose the identities of 4726 Australians, believed to be infringing the copyright of the film the Dallas Buyers Club.
Michael Bradley, a lawyer representing Dallas Buyers Club LLC told the Sydney Morning Herald that his client pursued the case with the intent "to send a much bigger message to consumers about the broader issue of unauthorised downloading and uploading of copyright material".
Based on a recent surge in Google searches for "VPN" in Australia, rather than deterring pirates, the ruling may just make piracy harder to trace.
According to Google Trends, on the 7th of April the number of searches for "VPN" spiked significantly and by the next day there were four times as many Australians searching the term.
TorrentFreak reported that VPN providers are not only seeing an increase in website traffic but also in subscriptions. Ben Van der Pelt, on behalf of the VPN provider TorGuard, told them "Over the past week TorGuard has seen a massive jump in Australian subscribers."
How do VPNs help pirates?
In the Dallas Buyers Club case, the rights holders contracted a firm to track illegal downloads of the film by logging the IP addresses of computers found to be sharing the copyrighted material.
Internet service providers are the only entities that have records which match IP addresses to account holders. So, Voltage pictures, the rights holder of Dallas Buyers Club, sued Australian ISPs for account holder information of the IP addresses that were linked with instances of piracy.
Because VPN services provide users with cloaked IP addresses, tracing people using the methods seen in the Dallas Buyers Club case is virtually impossible for rights holders.
Following the leak of the new Game of Thrones episodes over the weekend, Australians showed no signs of holding back, pirating over 31,000 copies of the first episode of season 5. TorrentFreak reported that Australia was the 8th highest downloader of the popular TV series episode around the world.
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