Simpsons Solicitors

Court Does Dallas (and other digital developments)

March 9th 2016

There have been three recent significant developments in pursuing copyright infringements online – two demonstrating the difficulties that can occur in such pursuits, and a third offering copyright owners some hope.

First, the long-running attempt by Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures Ltd to pursue people uploading and downloading the movie “Dallas Buyers Club” has come to a grinding halt, with the Club and the company failing to provide to the Federal Court by 11 February 2016 either an acceptable form of letter to go to suspected infringers or the $600,000 bond that the Court required in case the Club or the company breached court orders. The decision setting out the time-table for compliance – failing which the application by the Club and the company for discovery of the identities of the suspects would be entirely dismissed – is set out in the court’s judgment of 16 December 2015, available at:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2015/1437.html 

It’s important to note that the court in this case did not set any new law on when people will be able to apply for “preliminary discovery” (that is, the process of applying to the court for a respondent to supply certain information.  Rather, the failure of the Club and the company to obtain the orders they sought resulted from the particular facts and presentation of the case.

Second, we understand that progress in reaching agreement between copyright owners and ISPs, setting out a graduated “three-strikes” response to serial copyright infringers who upload or download copyright material, has foundered over an inability to reach agreement on who will pay for sending notices to suspected infringers. The scheme would have seen warning letters sent to suspected infringers, but the co-chair of Village Roadshow in Australia is reported to have stated that the likely costs of sending the letters were such that “You might as well give people a DVD“.

Third, we reported in July 2015 on amendments to the Copyright Act that would give copyright owners the right to apply to the court for an order that Australian ISPs take “reasonable steps to disable” foreign sites infringing copyright (see http://simpsons.com.au/pirates-to-walk-the-plank/). We can now report that the first two cases under the amendments have now been filed – seeking orders from the Federal Court for Australian ISP’s to be ordered to block Australian access to The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, IsoHunt and TorrentHound (in one case) and (in the other) to SolarMovie. The two cases are scheduled to come before the court for directions in early March 2016 – one on 8 March and the other on 15 March.

If you would like advice on pursuing copyright infringements, contact copyright lawyer Adam Simpson or Ian McDonald (Special Counsel) at Simpsons Solicitors.