Australia's Federal Court has ordered six Internet service providers to hand over information about people accused of illegally downloading and sharing the film Dallas Buyers Club online. The companies had initially refused a request to provide their customers' data.
It's being called a landmark ruling in Australia, where delayed film release dates are blamed for helping create one of the highest rates of Web piracy in the world.
From Sydney, Stuart Cohen reports for NPR's Newscast unit:
"The producers of Dallas Buyers Club say they've identified nearly 5,000 IP addresses in Australia of people who've downloaded the 2013 movie, and they want to send them a bill.
"Now, in a landmark decision, an Australian court has ordered ISPs to hand over those customer details. This is Hollywood's latest attempt to curb illegal file-sharing Down Under. Film studios lost a suit in 2010 to try to force the country's ISPs to block customer access to file-sharing websites.
"Consumer groups say Australians are willing to pay for movies and TV shows but that the country has one of the highest rates of illegal downloading in the world because Hollywood makes the public wait, sometimes months, before movies are made available after their American release."
If you're wondering how the Australian customers were tracked down, the Sydney Morning Herald reports:
"To uncover the alleged pirates, Dallas Buyers Club LLC, through Voltage Pictures, tasked German-based pirate-hunting firm Maverick Eye UG to identify those who were sharing the movie online.
"Maverick Eye joined torrent 'swarms' that were sharing Dallas Buyers Club and then tasked its software to log the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of those who distributed the movie without authorization and in breach of copyright laws. A total of 4726 IP addresses were identified."