The Hollywood studio behind Dallas Buyers Club has been dealt a blow in its bid to force thousands of Australians pay for pirating their film.
In a case seen as a landmark win for privacy and consumer rights, the Federal Court ruled on Friday that Dallas Buyers Club LLC and Voltage Pictures LLC would need to pay a $600,000 bond before they could get the names and addresses of internet users who illegally downloaded their movie.
The court also said that while Dallas Buyers Club could sue users for infringing copyright, they didn't have a right to engage in "speculative invoicing" - where accused pirates receive letters demanding money payments if they want to avoid being sued.
Furthermore, the court ruled that if the company sent letters to the downloaders, they could only charge them for the cost of owning a legitimate copy of the film, and associated legal fees, and not for damages based on the user's uploads and downloads on BitTorrent.
In April, the company won the right to seek monetary compensation from more than 4700 Australian downloaders from six ISPs-iiNet, Internode, Dodo, Amnet, Adam Internet and Wideband Networks.
The court action is part of a series of civil suits the company has launched in several countries.
The company's Australian lawyer Michael Bradley told AAP that after a "surprising" and "complex judgment", his client is now considering its options and whether it will proceed with the $600,000 bond agreement.