Type of business
Privately held company
Los Angeles, California, United States
Dallas Buyers Club, The Hurt Locker, The Zero Theorem, Don Jon, Colossal
Voltage Pictures is an American film financing, production and distribution company founded by producer Nicolas Chartier. The company's first financed and produced film was The Hurt Locker, which was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won six.
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- Copyright enforcement attempts
On January 6, 2011, it was announced that Voltage's president Chartier partnered with longtime Hollywood Gang Productions executive Craig Flores to form Voltage Productions to produce large pictures set at studios, and films in the $15 million-$40 million budget range.
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Copyright enforcement attempts
Voltage Pictures has a history of filing lawsuits with severe monetary penalties against individuals that it accuses of illegally sharing its films online, a practice commonly derided as copyright trolling by groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
In November 2012, Voltage Pictures sought disclosure of personal information belonging to approximately 2000 customers of the Canadian ISP TekSavvy that it alleged illegally downloaded movies (based on data collected by the Canadian anti-piracy company Canipre between September 1, 2012 to October 31, 2012). Due to TekSavvy's corporate policy of requiring court orders before releasing customer information for any reason, Voltage filed a Statement of Claim in Canada's Federal Court (Voltage Pictures LLC v. John Doe and Jane Doe) seeking a court order for the release of the subscribers' personal information, including telephone numbers and email addresses.
On February 21, 2014 the Federal Court released its decision compelling TekSavvy to identify the consumers identified by Voltage as alleged downloaders while also implementing strong constraints on Voltage. The court ruled that the demand letters sent by Voltage to the specified consumers must first be approved by a Federal Court judge to ensure "there is no inappropriate language" and that "any correspondence... shall clearly state in bold type that no court has yet made a determination that such subscriber has infringed or is liable in any way for payment of damages". The Court further limited Voltage by requiring the company to pay TekSavvy's legal costs and any costs associated with identifying the consumers and only permitting Voltage to access the names and mailing addresses of the subscribers in question.
Beginning in 2014, Voltage Pictures filed nearly 150 multi-defendant "John Doe" lawsuits against internet users identified only by their IP addresses, alleging illegal downloading of Dallas Buyers Club. Despite statutory damages claims of $150,000, users reported settling claims with the Voltage for $5,000 to $8,000.
In Australia, Voltage attempted to aggressively enforce their copyrights by serving discovery orders on Australian internet service providers (ISPs), through a subsidiary named Dallas Buyers Club LLC. iiNet, one of the ISPs served with a discovery application, stated it has "serious concerns" that the film's makers will look to intimidate subscribers. Steve Dalby, iiNet's chief regulatory officer, said: "We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle claims out of court using a practice called 'speculative invoicing'". Information of up to 4,700 subscribers were being sought for allegedly downloading the film before its box office release.
In April 2015, an Australian federal judge, Justice Nye Perram ruled that ISPs must hand over contact information related to the IP addresses associated with sharing the movie.
In August 2015 the Australian Federal Court refused the application for film makers of Dallas Buyers Club to force ISPs to hand over the details of their customers. The courts found that the contents of the letter, proposed by the film makers to contact downloaders with, were more demanding than deemed appropriate. The letter was found to ask for such details as salary and other films that were downloaded.
In December 2015, Justice Perram dismissed the Dallas Buyers Club LLC case against iiNet entirely unless an appeal is made by February 16. The judge remarked upon DBC's attempts to claim costs for a worldwide non-exclusive distribution agreement, concluding that "DBC’s contention was wholly unrealistic; indeed, I went so far as to describe it as ‘surreal’."