An attempt by the copyright owners (DBC) of Hollywood blockbuster, Dallas Buyers Club, to send letters of demand to thousands of alleged Australian piraters, has been recently denied by the Federal Court.
In February, DBC won the right to obtain the names and addresses of alleged illegal downloaders of their film from several Australian internet service providers. The Federal Court however, added a condition, requiring that any letters/correspondence sent from DBC, to the alleged piraters, would be subject to their review and approval. Having recently reviewed the contents of the letters proposed by DBC, Justice Perram rejected them, citing that the DBC’s demands were too excessive.
Due to DBC being an American company, the Federal Court would be powerless to punish the copyright holders if they were to ignore Court orders by sending letters to the alleged illegal downloaders. Justice Perram has therefore ordered the payment of a $600,000 bond by DBC, a figure which he believes will deter DBC from disobeying his orders.
Whilst the recent bond order is a victory for the alleged copyright infringers, those suspected should not rest too easy. The bond does not prevent DBC from submitting to the Court new letters for approval. If the copyright holder successfully reframes its letters, and believes it can still recover substantial amounts (notwithstanding the bond), then alleged pirate downloaders may receive an unpleasant surprise in their mailbox sometime in the near future.