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Singapore Courts Order Internet Firms to Disclose Downloaders’ Identities

A Singapore court has ruled that the country’s Internet service providers must disclose the names and addresses of subscribers who have illegally downloaded movies.

The case was brought by rights owner Dallas Buyers Club LLC, which identified over 500 people in Singapore who used torrent services to illegally download “Dallas Buyers Club,” the 2013 movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.

“Singnet has now been issued a formal court order which compels Singnet by law to disclose the identities of those subscribers. Singnet must provide the information to DBC LLC by the end of April 2015,” said Singtel, one of three ISPs in Singapore, in a statement.

The company said that it had received a letter from Dallas Buyers Club LLC in October seeking the details of 150 subscribers, and that it had at first refused to cooperate. “We believed we had a duty to protect the confidential information of our customers,” Singtel said.

Another ISP, M1, told local media that it too had initially refused to cooperate, but had received an order from the High Court in January. In response to the order M1 had handed over names, national identity numbers and physical addresses of alleged illegal downloaders. StarHub, Singapore’s third provider, said that it was now in the process of complying with the court order.

Lawyers acting for Dallas Buyers Club LLC are understood to have used information provided by the ISPs and in the last week to have sent letters seeking a written offer of damages and costs within three days.

The Singapore court ruling in favor of the rights owners and against the ISPs is similar to the ruling published on Tuesday by an Australian court in a case also brought by Dallas Buyers Club LLC.

That case was considered as a landmark as, until then, Australian courts had largely sided with the service providers in earlier hearings involving movie downloading from third party sites.

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