from the good-for-them dept
As we’ve been discussing over the past few months, Voltage Pictures took its global copyright trolling efforts down under not too long ago, seeking to shakedown lots of Australians for allegedly downloading infringing copies of Dallas Buyers Club. Australian ISP iiNet (who has regularly fought back against over aggressive copyright claims) pushed back. Earlier this year, the court allowed the copyright trolling to move ahead, but with some caveats, including demanding that DBC share the letter and telephone script it would be using to try to shake down people. At the time, we hoped this would prevent the standard level of shakedown — and that appears to have happened.
The court has rejected the proposed letter and script, noting that it was demanding way too much, and thus not allowing DBC to move forward:
“The applicant was claiming four heads of damages and was proposing to negotiate with account holders in relation to those four amounts. I’ve concluded that two of those amounts could never be recovered, and in those circumstances, I’ve decided that what is presently proposed by Dallas Buyers Club in terms of its correspondence ought not to be permitted,” Perram said on Friday morning.
“I therefore make these orders: I dismiss the prospective applicant’s application to lift the stay of order one made by me on the 6th of May; and I order the prospective applicants to pay the respondent’s costs of that application.”
Part of the problem was that DBC was asking for money for the accused users uploading activity and “additional damages for an infringer’s other downloading history.” The court noted that was way out of bounds, calling them “untenable claims.” Further, the court noted what was really going on here, calling out that it was never the intention to allow for “speculative invoicing” (the nice way of saying “copyright trolling.”)
The court will let DBC send letters if it puts up a $600,000 bond promising that it won’t try to recover those bogus damages. Instead, if it puts up the bond, it will only be allowed to recover damages in the form of (1) the cost of legally purchasing the movie and (2) the cost it took for DBC to obtain the user’s details. In other words, DBC would need to put up the bond and then would only be allowed to collect a rather small amount from each accused user — which likely makes the whole scheme not particularly worth it.
Apparently the judge set the bond so high because he feared that DBC would demand more money anyway and then not care, since it has no Australian presence:
“Because DBC has no presence in Australia the court is unable to punish it for contempt if it fails to honour that undertaking,” he said.
“I will therefore require its undertaking to be secured by the lodging of a bond. Having had access to what it is that DBC proposes to demand … and the potential revenue it might make if it breached its undertaking to the court not to demand such sums, it seems to me that I should set the bond at a level which will ensure that it will not be profitable for it to do so.
“I will set the bond at $600,000 which, if the undertaking is given, is to be lodged by bank guarantee with the registrar. ”
In the issued order the Judge notes that he demanded from DBC to tell the court (secretly) what it was going to request from users, since that was not detailed in the proposed letter or phone script — and notes that it does appear that the plan was very much about trolling (again “speculative invoicing.”). Based on all of this, it appears that Australia will not be a particularly friendly place for copyright trolls.