Netizens raising funds to help Dallas Buyers Club downloaders targeted by studio

SINGAPORE - Some netizens on online forum Hardwarezone have created an e-platform to source for funds to help Internet users here targeted by a Hollywood studio for illegally sharing its film Dallas Buyers Club.

Voltage Pictures early this month sent 77 M1 users demand letters asking for a written offer of damages and costs, a move which sparked heated discussion on the Internet and social media.

The leader of the online crowdfunding effort, who goes by the moniker Dr T Green, contacted The Straits Times late Thursday night, saying that she believes in "fighting for the underdogs".

The online campaign (http://dhz.us/-/dbcf), dubbed "Let's Unite Against Speculative Invoicing", went live at 10am today. It hopes to raise at least US$4,000 (S$5,280) to cover the legal fees for those who received the letter.

This will go towards the aid of some 20 people, who had come forward to ask for help, she said.

Depending on how much money is raised, there are also plans to hire a computer forensic expert to challenge the digital evidence gathered by Voltage to identify the alleged illegal downloader.

Based on a pre-campaign poll conducted in the middle of the month on Hardwarezone, about $10,000 was pledged by netizens online.

The letters sent out to alleged Dallas Buyers Club downloaders did not state any compensation amount, prompting intellectual property lawyers to speculate that it could be an attempt to settle quickly with those with the least resistance.

But Voltage had defended its decision to take the litigation route, saying it was the "only real option" available to copyright holders and it was not trying to profiteer.

More than 500 Singapore Internet protocol addresses where the movie was downloaded illegally were identified.