We will not support Voltage Pictures, and here’s why.


Ever seen The Hurt Locker? Maybe you dipped into Don Jon, that hilarious Joseph Gordon-Levitt flick from 2013? Perhaps you’re anticipating the release of Adam Sandler’s The Cobbler? Or, did you suck up and witness the brain-flap of The Dallas Buyers Club?

If you did, you should know that all those films (plus a bunch of others nobody here at Fernby Films gives a shit about) were produced by a company known as Voltage Pictures. They’re an American movie studio currently doing the rounds of planet Earth trying to prosecute people it sees as having pirated (or stolen, or pinched) their films via online distribution methods – torrenting.

This article isn’t about pirating, inasmuch as it’s about Voltage’s blanket, carte-blanche idea running alongside the notion of “speculative invoice”, ie the sending of a letter designed to terrify the mom-and-dad families, and technologically innocent parties who may have even unwittingly allowed film piracy on their home internet network with monumental financial losses through protracted and expensive court battles.

Voltage Pictures won a court battle which saw one of Australia’s largest internet service provider, iiNet, being forced to hand over the names and addresses of over 4000 (yeah, four thousand) people Voltage claim have infringed their copyright by uploading The Dallas Buyers Club to torrent sites, or been part of a torrent swarm (which is where a bunch of people allow the upload of files pertaining to their claim). Not only does this have privacy groups outraged, it also has the legal community divided – on the one hand, people illegally downloading movies is wrong, but on the other, how is a US company entitled to take action against Australian nationals with such impunity?

The ruling today limits Voltage Pictures’ ability to send threatening letters to account holders. The ruling isn’t even sure how accurate the case will be – after all, is the person named on the account the same person who clicked the mouse to download said movie? There’s a slew of grey areas (morally, not ethically) as to how these claims can be proven, but as usual, big business and government will gang together to force the rule of law to side with them. Families, elderly, sick and infirm? Watch yourselves. Voltage are gunning for you.

That said, here at Fernby Films, we cannot abide by Voltage’s carte-blanche approach to this matter. The way it’s been handled and is seeming to override basic privacy laws established in this country eons ago, it grates at me something shocking. The reports of their handling of this matter in places like Canada and the US are indeed strikingly abhorrent.

So, for that reason, we’ve taken the unprecedented step of redacting every review we’ve written about a film produced by this company. Admittedly, that isn’t a lot, but in our own small way, we’d like to say a big f@ck you to Voltage Pictures, and their supposedly noble purpose in “stamping out film piracy” by riding roughshod over people who probably don’t even know what the hell is going on.

Therefore, Oscar winning films The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club, as well as Don Jon, will soon be redacted, and replaced with holding banners relinking to this article. We will no longer promote, watch or review a film produced by this company.

Irrespective of whether this decision is overturned on appeal, or ends up being nothing more than a giant pissing contest, you won’t see us recommending any film of theirs.

Rodney Twelftree

EIC – Fernby Films.


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5 thoughts on “We will not support Voltage Pictures, and here’s why.

  1. Rodney, Without any doubt, I agree with you. Though I can't understand that how an American company can setup a legal precedent which causes the privacy of thousands of Australian's to be violated.
    I just say, keep the fight against them.

  2. Great work Rodney. They are using rather imposing, morally grey legal means of trying to make money from people many of whom :
    a. Usually aren't provided a great, paid, online alternative to watching the content.
    b. Probably wouldn't have paid for or watched the movie(s) in the first place and are the financial equivalent to the company of people who'd have waited for it to be shown on TV, but like me, don't even have a TV hooked up to free to air.
    or c. They, as the account holders probably didn't even do the torrenting. There's way too many cases of the grandson using grandma's Internet over the holidays, or someone's wireless being hacked.

    But most of that isn't the problem. The problem is that these companies aren't getting with the times. The Internet has changed their distribution model and thus business model, but these companies, instead of embracing the change, are actively fighting against it.

    I agree with your article in that I do not understand how an American company can setup a legal precedent which causes the privacy of thousands of Australian's to be violated. The only people who should be able to get a copy of the ISP's connection logs are the police and only with a court order and even then they should only be getting the logs of certain individuals.

    My recent post I’m not going to make it better, we are gonna make it better

    1. Exactly. I'm not against them trying to recoup "percieved losses" – although we all know the film industry works on an outdated business model these days, only they're too scared to do anything about it, but I'm definitely against standover tactics with their "speculative invoicing" letters demanding payment. If Australia goes the same way as America, a lot of people will be screwed.

      At this point, I doubt people will get a letter demanding thousands in compensation, but you can imagine what might happen if somebody with mental illness kills themselves thinking they'll be sent to jail for downloading a movie. Wait until THAT shitstorm hits the media.

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