Singtel receives court order to release some 150 customer details

SINGAPORE - Out of more than 500 people who allegedly downloaded Oscar-winning film Dallas Buyers Club illegally over the Internet, more than 150 subscribed to Singtel.

In a statement this afternoon, Singtel said that it has now been issued a formal court order, which compels the Internet service provider (ISP) by law to disclose the identities of those subscribers.

The ISP must release the information by the end of this month to the film's rights holder Dallas Buyers Club LLC, which is represented here by local law firm Samuel Seow Law Corp.

The film company has apparently identified more than 500 Singapore Internet protocol (IP) addresses from subscribers of the three major ISPs - Singtel, StarHub and M1 - where the movie was downloaded illegally.

In October last year, Singtel received a letter from Dallas Buyers Club's lawyers, alleging that some of Singtel's subscribers had illegally downloaded the film. It asked for the identities of some 150 subscribers.

Singtel said it "refused to provide them such information as we believed we had a duty to protect the confidential information of our customers".

When the matter went before the courts late last year, Singtel appointed external counsel. "At court our lawyers highlighted our legal obligations to keep our customers' information confidential and requested the court to consider if the evidence provided by the Dallas Buyers Club was sufficiently detailed and clear to support their claims of infringement for purposes of compelling Singtet to disclose our subscribers' identities," the ISP said.

The 2013 film is based on the true story of an American's quest to treat HIV in the mid-1980s. It won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto.

Over the weekend, Samuel Seow Law Corp started sending letters to Internet users here asking for a written offer of damages and costs within three days of receiving the letter. It is not known how many have responded to the letter.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.