Ireland: Dallas Pirates’ Club: Australian ISPs Ordered To Release Customers’ Details

In a landmark judgment, the Australian Federal Court has ordered six Australian Internet Services Providers ('ISPs') to release the names and physical addresses of their customers whose internet connections have allegedly been used to illegally share the Oscar-winning movie 'Dallas Buyers Club'. In a break from the 'three strikes' policies adopted in other jurisdictions, such as Ireland, the Australian court has ordered the ISPs to hand over the customers' information so that the movie production company can write to the individuals, seeking monetary compensation. The order granted by the Court closely reflects the common law Norwich Pharmacal order, which has been used in both England and Ireland to obtain details of infringing subscribers.


Dallas Buyers Club LLC ('DBC') is based in the United States and claims to be the owner of the copyright in the 2013 biopic 'Dallas Buyers Club'. Together with its parent company, Voltage Pictures LLC, it brought an application in the Australian Federal Court. The respondents are six Australian ISPs that provide internet access to those that are alleged to have engaged in illegal filesharing. 

DBC claims that it has identified 4,726 IP addresses from which their Dallas Buyers Club movie was illegally shared online using BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing network.  The company is arguing that these individuals infringed its copyright, breaching the Copyright Act 1968  (Cth). While DBC does not know the identity of the people involved, it does claim to have evidence that each of the IP addresses in question were supplied by the relevant ISPs. It also believes that the ISPs can identify the account holder associated with each IP address. Importantly, Justice Nye Perram considered that, despite the possibility of some account holders not being the infringers, they may still be able to assist the movie studio in identifying the actual infringers.

Privacy vs. Copyright

In his decision, the judge highlighted his duty to balance the intellectual property rights of DBC against the privacy rights of the Australian residents. Australian federal law protects the privacy of individuals' telecommunications activity and, in general, ISPs must not disclose or use any information or document that relates to the affairs or personal particulars of another person.

The ISPs argued that this means they are prevented from disclosing their customers' information to the production company. Justice Perram remarked that these privacy laws demonstrate that the privacy of account holders of ISPs is regarded by Parliament as having significant value. Nevertheless, he noted that Parliament has also given significant value to the owners of copyright by enacting the Copyright Act and by giving them the right to sue for infringement.

A similar issue arose in the English case of Rugby Football Union v Viagogo, in which Viagogo submitted privacy-based arguments against the granting of a Norwich Pharmacal order. Despite this, both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court confirmed the order requiring Viagogo to disclose the details of third parties who were allegedly re-selling rugby tickets in breach of RFU rules.

Decision and Restrictions

In his decision granting the discovery order, Justice Perram ordered the ISPs to disclose to DBC the names and physical addresses of all 4,726 customers whose internet connections were allegedly used to share the Dallas Buyers Club movie. The judge did, however, put a number of restrictions on what the production company could do with the information. This included prohibiting the public release of the information and requiring that drafts of the compensation letters must be reviewed by him before being sent.

What Next In Australia?

It is not clear whether the decision will set a precedent, as a forthcoming Australian industry code addressing ISPs and illegal downloading may supersede it. On 8 April 2015, the Communications Alliance lodged the 'Copyright Notice Scheme Code 2015' for registration with the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA). The Scheme requires ISPs to send an escalating series of infringement notices to consumers who are alleged to have infringed copyright online. The aim of the Scheme is to "change [consumer] behaviour and help steer them toward lawful sources of content". While the Scheme does not contain explicit sanctions against internet users, it does provide for a similar court process, through which ISPs would assist rights holders by providing details of infringers.

Irish Position – Graduated Response

In Ireland, the High Court has attempted to curb illegal downloading by granting orders requiring ISPs to block file-sharing websites. Rights holders argue, however, that such measures can be relatively easily circumvented. Like the Australian decision, the High Court also previously granted an order against the country's largest ISP, Eircom, to provide details of its users alleged to have illegally downloaded copyright music content.

Eircom has since been required to implement a 'graduated response' mechanism, which can lead to disconnection of the service of a persistent infringer. This is commonly known as the 'three strikes' policy. In short, if Eircom becomes aware that a customer is illegally sharing files, it will send a written warning to the alleged offender, providing them with information on alternative ways to obtain their content lawfully. If the user fails to act on the first two warning letters, the final 'strike' means the disconnection of the customer's service.

Three major record companies have recently obtained an order from the Irish Commercial Court requiring UPC, Ireland's second largest ISP, to implement a similar, two-strike, process. It is reported that following the second notification, the record company can apply for a court order directing the disconnection of the customer's service. The Court has also ordered UPC to set up a detection system within the next 12 to 15 months. With the Australian situation in mind, it is interesting to highlight that Mr Justice Cregan noted that the evidence before him suggests that when a subscriber receives a warning letter under the Eircom 'three strikes' system, it brings about an overall "significant reduction" in the numbers of individuals breaching copyright on the internet.

The decision of the Australian Federal Court reveals the same issues arising in copyright litigation across the common law world. In various jurisdictions we are seeing rights holders pursue online intermediaries for information on their users that may have violated the rights holders' IP rights. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
13 Sep 2017, Seminar, Dublin, Ireland

We will host our third Employment Law Top Tips seminar for 2017 on Wednesday 13 September in our offices at South Bank House, Barrow Street, Dublin 4.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.