Dallas Buyers Club sues to identify internet subscribers

When the (inaptly named) Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper was released, Minister Turnbull was reported as suggesting copyright owners should sue the downloading end-users.

Last month, Dallas Buyers Club LLC was reported to have started that process. It has commenced proceedings against various telcos and ISPs seeking preliminary discovery from them of the identities of their customers who were using IP (as in Internet Protocol) addresses at times Dallas Buyers Club LLC says illegal copies of the film were being downloaded from those addresses.

Last Monday, Perram J rejected an application by some journalists and others for access under FCR r 2.29 to most of the documents on the court file. His Honour noted the usual rule that affidavits are not “public” until they have been used in court and the potential privacy sensitivities or releasing, amongst other things, subscriber identification information at this very early stage of the proceeding.

Apparently, Dallas Buyers Club LLC’s application for preliminary discovery will be heard all the way off on 17 – 18 February 2015.

For cases where the record companies successfully obtained preliminary discovery from the Universities of some student details alleged to be engaging in infringing activities, see Sony v University of Tasmania here, here, here and here.

On a slightly different tack, it was reported on 19 November that some Universities have been suspending staff and student access to the internet, and in at least the case of UNSW, issuing fines where “internet piracy” has been discovered.

Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v iiNet Limited (No 1) [2014] FCA 1232

The price of digital downloads in Australia

Apparently inspired by this report, Senator Conroy, the Orwellian named Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy,[1] has acted to announce a new inquiry to be undertaken by the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications.

Reports here and here.

According to that second report, someone trailed a coat on the issue last week when ACCC Commissioner Ed Willett appeared before the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network.

Now, as a purchaser of digital files, I am hardly unbiased but it does seem hard to justify price differentials of 50% or more. Seems like there is economic reasoning that challenges the Gerry Harvey-esque explanations.

Only problem, almost 20 years ago, the Prices Surveillance Authority recommended (what became in effect) this provision and some record companies got into big trouble trying to circumvent their own corresponding provision, but it would seem nothing has changed. Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice, reported here might be on to something suggesting the problem is the territorial nature of copyright itself. A (copyright) world without borders. Imagine!


  1. He is afterall the man who wants to impose filtering on the internet.  ↩

Parallel imports and books (again)

Professor Joshua Gans published an opinion piece railing in the Age against the laws restricting parallel imports of book (via his blog here).

The burden of his argument is that it is absurd and outrageous that he can’t even download an electronic copy of the book he authored for use on his Kindle here.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m very frustrated not to be able to buy anything on a Kindle here (when I’m not dreaming about what an Apple iTablet might be). It is absurd. It is outrageous.

He says:

So why is it possible for hard copies of books to move across international borders but not electronic copies? The answer is that publishers, who have intellectual monopolies over these works, for their own reasons have not done the deals to make it possible. Regardless of what I, as an author, might like, a gatekeeper is standing between my readers and my book.

But, this doesn’t have anything to do with the laws on parallel imports. As he points out, even under the laws he is trying to bring to an end, you, he and I can parallel import physical copies of his book.

Rather, the problem is that, he negotiated split publishing rights – University of NSW for Australia and The MIT Press for (at least) North America – presumably in the hope that the two publishers would maximise his returns from the different markets and he didn’t negotiate a global electronic rights deal.

Now, maybe he would say he tried and the publishers refused or, more likely, even if one gave a single publisher the global electronic publishing rights, maybe they would still parcel up the world into individual territories.

If you can do a deal to co-publish with 2 physical publishers, why not with a third electronic publisher like Amazon’s Kindle? Why not do the deal with Amazon’s Kindle (or someone like that) first and then line up the physical publisher?

Pirate Bay fined and imprisoned (appeal pending)

Nic Suzor has a nice summary of the brouhaha here.

Duncan Bucknell and the Inquisitr (lid dip Denise Howell on twitter) wonder about the ramifications for Google, MSN, Yahoo etc.

The IPKat recommends Andrew Logie on what should be done now.

Andrew Logie’s point:

The reason people use TPB is that you can get content fast, free and with hardly any effort. Take ABC’s popular series ‘Lost’. If you lived in the US you could either watch or record the series on television or watch it online on ABC’s website. However, here in the UK, you could be waiting 6 months to a year to see that same episode on television, and even longer still to buy it on DVD, and if you think you can watch it online on ABC’s website, forget it: licensing restrictions will block UK internet users.

You do have another option: piracy. ….

resonates with the absurdity Kwanghui Lim identified – he can parallel import the printed books from Amazon, but Amazon won’t sell him the audio files – because of licensing restricti0ns.

Meanwhile, the (unrelated) Swedish Pirate Party organised hundreds of demonstrators to protest the decision in various parts of Sweden, according to Louise Nordstrom.

The sky is falling

with apologies to Chief Vitalstatistix:

ARIA’s half year figures for 2008 show that sales of recorded music are still falling – down 4% on the corresponding period last year.

But guess what, the decline in sales of physical copies is almost all set off by the rise in digital sales: 12 million digital tracks up from 8 million for the 6 month period last year.  

According to ARIA:

“… figures which demonstrate the beginning of a remarkable transition to a whole new economy that is still only in its infancy.”

Perhaps in a sign of gloom for music industry executives, a lot of these downloads were single tracks rather than albums, but digital albums still increased by 55%.

ARIA press release here; full stats here.