If you illegally downloaded the Oscar winning film Dallas
Buyer's Club you won't be hearing from its owners...for
now. Copyright holders hoping to prosecute Australians who have
illegally downloaded content will be rethinking their approach
after the decision handed down by the Federal Court on Friday.
Back in April, Dallas Buyers Club LLC applied to the Federal
Court to force certain internet service providers (iiNet, Dodo etc)
to hand over the personal details of all people who had allegedly
illegally downloaded the movie.
While agreeing that the owners of the movie had a right to seek
damages from these illegal downloaders, the Judge ruled that prior
to release of personal details, any correspondence that the
copyright holders were to send these "pirates" had to be
approved by the Court.
Justice Perram ruled that the draft letter lodged with the Court
by the movie's owners was not suitable in its current form as
it had overreached in its demands by seeking damages based on the
alleged downloaders uploading activity of the film, and additional
damages for that person's illegal downloading history. Also,
critically, there was no demand for a specific amount of money.
Justice Perram ruled that these two amounts could never be
recovered and that the general approach taken by Dallas Buyers Club
LLC was indicative of a practice known as "speculative
invoicing" whereby movie studios send huge monetary demands to
alleged downloaders with the threat of legal action in the hope
that they settle and pay the money.
WHAT'S THE UPSHOT?
This ruling effectively means that, while Dallas Buyers Club LLC
and other rights owners are not prevented from contacting illegal
downloaders in the future, the only compensation they will be able
to demand will be limited to the costs of contacting the alleged
downloader and the cost of purchasing the film legally. To prevent
the movie's owners from attempting to demand those damages,
Justice Perram has required them to sign an undertaking and post a
$600,000 bond as security against those obligations, before any
letter can be sent to alleged downloaders.
ClarkeKann will keep you updated as to the progress of this
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