Derek Rielly: I…uh…might have downloaded the Dallas Buyers Club

Let’s just presume Derek Rielly did download Dallas Buyers Club – then let’s also presume he might have given up on it half-way through. Photo: SuppliedDallas Buyers Club slays iiNet in landmark caseDBC wants to shut down pirates’ connectionsPirates may pay only $20 compo each
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What surprises life throws at a man. Who knew that, one day, I’d be thrilled to’ve signed an overpriced two-year contract with Telstra’s Big Pond, one hundred slugs a month for a paltry 200 gigabytes of downloads. And all wrapped up in Telstra’s aggressive late-fees.

But now that Voltage Pictures have come after iiNet and a handful of smallish ISPs, I feel like tap-dancing up and down the street. Why?

I, uh, might’ve downloaded the Dallas Buyers Club.

Not saying I did, because that would put me in the sights of the American intellectual property lawyers who plan to cut a swathe through Australian piracy. And that might lead to one of those terrifying letters that are called “speculative invoices” by lawyers but are referred to by everyone else as blackmail.

As in, give us, $100, $1000, $10,000 – or we’ll take you to court and attempt to ruin you financially as a deterrent to anyone else who might want to download and share one of our films.

Sure, they might lose the case. But you’ll lose everything trying to defend the reason why, on that windy Saturday night, you thought, oh, wouldn’t it be nice to see a Matthew McConaughey film.

Maybe you thought it would rouse your spousal into some kind of marital fervour and so you figured, yeah, I’ll watch this crummy American film. McConaughey won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, yes, but this is more a reflection of the Academy’s desire to see handsome, and beautiful, actors ugly themselves in the name of cinema than the quality of the film.

Presuming I did download Dallas Buyers Club, I might then admit I switched off half-way through as the narrative arc became boringly apparent.

The only people safe from Voltage Pictures action are autistic kids and their carers, the disabled, the mentally ill and anyone on the dole. Interestingly, if you’re a pirate in uniform you’re immune, too, a legacy of Voltage’s American roots. What patriots!

Like everyone else, of course, as soon as I heard the Voltage Pictures action was successful, I hit the panic button or, more accurately, the delete button.

All those flms, all those TV shows that I might have, but can’t say for sure, downloaded via a third-party BitTorrent browser are gone. Trash securely deleted. Hard-drives wiped. People will claim they never shared the films they downloaded but peer-to-peer downloads mean every time you have the program open you’re automatically sharing everything in your library. We’re all guilty.

I knew this day would come. It had to. There’s a moral frenzying by defenders of free downloads, and some of the excuses are fairly convincing, as in “we want it… now”, but you would have to have sticks in your head not to think the film studios wouldn’t come after you eventually. Why wouldn’t they want to defend their turf?

I don’t believe downloading a film that I wouldn’t have gone to the cinema to see anyway is the same as shoplifting or knocking off someone’s car. But it does fall in the realm of tweaking your insurance claim, the same sense of righteousness that says, “Those companies are ripping us off anyway. Let’s get something back”.

Eventually, you pay. You pay higher insurance premiums to cover the scammers.

And, right now, as the piper demands payment, you might be paying a lot more than the $20 you would have tossed over the counter at the cinemas.

What’s going to be worse than any kind of punishment, however, is the shrill, “I told you sos” from all the luddites who couldn’t work out the whole downloading thing, anyway.  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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