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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cinema piracy .... and the response of Dallas Buyer Club

How often do you see movies ? – when was the last time, you saw one in a theatre ? – and when was the last time, you stood in Queue for buying a ticket ? – in early 1980s, films would get released on Fridays, the premier ticket cost was Rs.2.90 and there would be crowds in long queue before Devi Paradise on Mount Road…… now a days people buy CDs [pirated] or simply download them from internet !! Read an interesting news item that DBC is planning to ask suspected pirates to reveal incomes ! – baffling !! – nothing to do with Marine Sea piracy, on which I frequently post about – this is all about Cinema piracy. 

Video piracy is the act of copying video images and sound that are protected by a copyright, without the permission or consent of the copyright owner. As technology improves and changes the ways in which video and audio media are stored and distributed, this type of piracy has changed as well. This form of copyright infringement is typically illegal.  Frequently we read about raids on shops  selling pirated copies of recently released movies or yet-to-be-released movies at Burma Bazaar and other places. Though we read about the crackdown, pirated CDs of almost all movies are available on the day of their release – and in most cases can be downloaded from many sites without payment.  It actually is no longer anything secret, people can walk to a shop, ask for one and take it home !

In 1985, Dallas electrician and rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof is diagnosed with AIDS and given 30 days to live. He initially refuses to accept the diagnosis, but remembers having unprotected sex with an intravenous drug-using prostitute. He is soon ostracized by family and friends, gets fired from his job, and is eventually evicted from his home.. ……… all about a movie based on    Ronald Dickson "Ron" Woodroof (1950 – 1992) an American who created what would become known as the Dallas Buyers Club in March 1988. Contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the 1980s, he created the group as part of his efforts to find and distribute drugs to treat HIV at a time when the disease was poorly understood.  He sued the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over a ban on a drug he was using.

Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film, co-written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, directed by Jean-Marc VallĂ©e. Ron Woodroof the affected patient, as part of the experimental AIDS treatment movement,  smuggles unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas for treating his symptoms, and distributes them to fellowpeople with AIDS by establishing the "Dallas Buyers Club" while facing opposition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Two fictional supporting characters, Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), and Rayon (Jared Leto), were composite roles created from the writer's interviews with transgender AIDS patients, activists, and doctors.Dallas Buyers Club premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was released theatrically in the United States in Nov, 2013. 

The film grossed over $27 million domestically and $27.9 million internationally, the box office revenue returned over $55 million against a budget of $5 million in 182-days of a theatrical run. The film received widespread critical acclaim, resulting in numerous accolades. Most recognized the performances of McConaughey and Leto, who respectively received the Academy Award for Best Actor and for Best Supporting Actor at the 86th Academy Awards, making this the first film since Mystic River (2003), and only the fifth movie ever, to win both awards.

Sydney Morning Herald reports that thousands of Australians will be given a 28-day deadline to either dob in [report to Police] an internet pirate, even if they are children, or admit to illegally downloading copies of Hollywood movie Dallas Buyers Club.Fairfax Media has obtained copies of the letter that Voltage Pictures, the copyright owner of Dallas Buyers Club, wants to send to 4726 internet users alleged to have downloaded the movie.The company's attempt to have the letter suppressed by the Federal Court was rejected by Justice Perram  in a ruling that also sought assurances that customers would not be extorted. The letters are expected to be reviewed by the judge before they are sent out.

A telephone number will be provided for people who get the letters to either admit guilt or alternatively provide the phone number, address and email address of someone they believe to be the real downloader.They are warned that court action could be the next step.  It is reported that the film company chasing almost 5000 Australians for allegedly pirating Dallas Buyers Club wants a judge to let it ask its targets for details of their annual income, as well as their history of torrenting files, when deciding the size of the financial penalty it will pursue.Dallas Buyers Club LLC also wants permission to call individuals it believes have shared the movie online, in order to ask its interrogatories directly.

In a landmark judgment delivered in April, Justice Nye Perram ruled in favour of DBC's "preliminary discovery" application requesting that ISPs, including iiNet and Dodo, disclose the identities of people it alleges shared the movie online. This equates to a total of 4726 account holders.DBC apparently believes there is no one-size-fits-all approach to seeking compensation from alleged pirates, and its questions are designed to help calculate the fee it will seek from each. Justice Perram demanded the company confidentially submit to him its methodology so he could ensure individuals would not be taken advantage of.In the US, DBC threatened legal action against account holders claiming they were liable for damages of up to $US150,000 in court unless settlement fees of up to $US7000 were paid.Lawyers for DBC argued before the Court  that its letter and phone scripts should not be released to the public, as it could weaken its bargaining position if alleged pirates learned what to expect ahead of time.

It is stated that the people would be told  firmly, 'You have infringed and we are going to sue if you don't settle'. It is speculated that individuals' income details could be used to work out the maximum likely penalty they would pay. The final judgement on the case is due by July 15.   That sounds serious …… anyway, that perhaps has nothing to do in Chennai.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th June 2015.

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