Draft Dallas Buyers Club letter to scare pirates into settlement

Dallas Letter

Bad news for Aussie Dallas Buyers Club pirates: the letter that Dallas Buyers Club LLC's lawyers are planning to send to infringers will threaten suspected pirates with incurred legal costs and charge for multiple film copies if a settlement is not reached.

As a quick recap, back in April the Federal Court of Australia ruled that certain Australian ISPs must give the names and addresses of account holders suspected of pirating the Dallas Buyers Club film so they could send letters detailing legal proceedings against copyright infringers.

The presiding Justice Nye Perram ordered that the letter be admitted as evidence to ensure the rights holders refrained from speculative invoicing (a practice that has seen US residents be threatened with court proceedings costing hundreds of thousands of dollars if a US$7,000 fine wasn't paid).

A copy of the letter and a 'suggested' phone transcript were admitted to court today, and it appears that threats are still on the agenda.

Letter Dallas Buyers Club

Hide your kids – the Dallas Buyers Club's after them too

Though the letter advises that suspects are potentially liable for the 'uploading and downloading of the film', 'the legal costs incurred' and 'additional damages', there is no mention of settlement price.

This ambiguity allows the company free reign on negotiating a case by case settlement and the accompanying suggested telephone transcript suggests that the company will use the fear of court proceedings as leverage, in extracting the most money possible from account holders.

Amongst statements that "a person under 18 who engaged in the unlawful distribution of the Dallas Buyers Club is still liable for that conduct", the suggested phone transcript pushes the point that an immediate settlement offer "will not be the same amount claimed by our client should this matter proceed to court".

Transcript Dallas Buyers Club

Not just the cost of a film

And in response to people asking why the settlement costs are more than just the cost of downloading the film, the script follows: "our clients are also out of pocket for legal and compliance costs [that] form part of the damage… to which they are also entitled to claim from you".

Not only does the transcript suggest that phone operators ask for personal information like your annual salary to determine a settlement amount, but it also suggests explaining that "any file shared [through a BitTorrent application] is made available to hundreds, if not thousands of persons, thereby giving a potential claim for multiple copies of our clients work".

If you receive a letter we'd recommend contacting a lawyer, iiNet is offering free legal advice.

Joel Burgess
Staff Writer

Joel has been the in-house benchmark monkey for the Australian TechRadar team and Australia’s two biggest tech magazines (APC and TechLife) since 2014.