The landmark piracy case by Voltage Pictures, the studio behind Dallas Buyers Club (DBC), against 4,726 Australians who illegally downloaded the film has been dismissed by Justice Nye Perram, unless Voltage files for an appeal in the next 60 days.
Dallas Buyers Club LLC and Voltage Pictures were originally granted access to the 4,726 iiNet account holders that have been accused of sharing the film over torrent networks.
In his original ruling in April, Perram said the privacy of the 4,726 alleged pirates had to be maintained and any proposed letter or phone call by the studio had to be approved by the court. Voltage was ordered to pay a $600,000 bond.
The conditions placed on Voltage was to avoid “speculative invoicing” — where studios send infringers letters demanding exorbitant sums of money under threat of legal action.
In August, the Federal court rejected Voltage’s original proposed method, which included a letter and phone call asking for personal information about alleged pirates. Perram called this proposal “wholly unrealistic” and “so surreal as to not be taken seriously”.
In the final ruling, Perram said that it would be too difficult to apply a geographic-specific fee to torrenters who shared the film worldwide. “I do not accept that the evidence which will be involved is likely to be straightforward. DBC’s argument is that BitTorrent uploaders are effectively distributing the film worldwide and should pay the fee it would charge for such alicence. For this argument, it will be necessary to prove what DBC’s worldwide licence fees are,” Perram ruled.
The court also ruled the software used by DBC and Voltage was only able to detect that torrenters had shared a sliver of the film and, on that basis, any claim for damages against one account holder would be thrown out.
“The only answer which DBC could give would be that the account holder had been detected uploading a sliver of the Film. On that basis, it seems inevitable that the s115(4) claim would then be struck out. That being so, the application of my reasoning in the August Judgment leads to the conclusion that I should not permit DBC to make demands for sums of this kind,” Perram ruled.
Justice Parram said: “Some finality must now be brought to these proceedings.
“What I will do is make a self-executing order which will terminate the proceedings on Thursday 11 February 2016 at noon, unless DBC takes some step before then.”