Dallas Buyers Club Has To Pay Up Before It Sends Letters To Pirates

Australia's legal system is doing its job. The film company behind Dallas Buyers Club will have to lodge a bond of hundreds of thousands of dollars with the Federal Court before it is allowed to send letters of demand to alleged copyright infringers in Australia, in order to prevent any "speculative invoicing" and excessive requests for compensation. The letters themselves, too, are the subject of significant trouble for DBC.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a $600,000 bond was mandated to be held by the Court in a ruling on Friday, by the case's judge Justice Nye Perram, before Dallas Buyers Club LLC and Voltage Pictures are able to access the names and addresses of the nearly 5000 individuals they allege have infringed copyright by illegitimately downloading a copy of Dallas Buyers Club through Bit-Torrent.

That $600,000 bond, in the ruling of Perram, is designed to dissuade DBC from "speculative invoicing", the process of claiming excessive damages by suggesting that infringers' sharing and downloading of the movie via Bit-Torrent is itself responsible for many multiples of the files being distributed, and therefore responsible for a much higher loss in cinema ticket and DVD purchase revenue than from the actions of a single infringing individual. Because DBC has no legal presence in Australia, the power of the Federal Court to punish it if it exceeds its scope is limited.

Today's ruling saw a prospective draft letter from DBC rejected by Justice Perram, due to the troublesome methodology used to calculate potential damages and communicate these to alleged infringers. The four pillars of DBC's claims within the draft letter included the cost of a single copy of the movie itself, a suggested portion of the overall loss of revenue from the total number of users who accessed the uploaded film, a claim for non-DBC copyrighted films downloaded by that user, and the cost of enforcing this copyright in sending the letter.

Perram's rejection was based upon his ruling that two of the pillars -- the portion of overall revenue, and the claim for non-DBC works -- were "untenable", and that it was unreasonable to expect that alleged infringers could have avoided their infringement had they contacted DBC and entered into an agreement to share the film legally. Moreover, the ruling says, Dallas Buyers Club's suggestion that one allegedly infringing user be held responsible for the actions of others in uploading and downloading the film has no legal recourse in Australia. [SMH / iTnews]