Posted: August 17th, 2015
Case Analysis: The task is to write a case note on Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Limited  FCA 317 (7 April 2015). What are the implications for enforcement of copyright law in Australia?
Case Studies (briefing notes) – How to write them
This exercise is about writing a briefing note about the outcome of a legal ‘case’ (a specific court’s decision, based on the full report of one or more of the hearing judges’ reasoning, conclusions and orders compiled into a ‘judgment’.) It is a short simple summary to help a general reader understand what the case was about, and why it might be important.
Topic: The task is to write a case note on Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Limited  FCA 317 (7 April 2015).
What are the implications for enforcement of copyright law in Australia?
You may include a small number of complete references, with links if possible, indicating the sources you have consulted. However this exercise is not intended as a full essay: the main focus is on the text of the decision, not lots of external commentary, so you don’t need to feel obliged to pursue such references just to make up quantity, only to make clear your sources. Typically you would just reference the specific points in the judgement you were quoting from (by paragraph or page number), and specific points in the commentary article you rely on.
The format is not necessarily a fully formal essay: it can include lists, tables and bullet points, although these should be sparing and used only where appropriate. It should be succinct (not ‘waffle’) and specific, referring as appropriate to the words actually said in the judgement, proper names, places, facts, times, names of other cases, sections of legislation, legal jurisdictions or other concrete features which are relevant to understanding the specific case – not just vague general assertions about principles or issues.
Length: It should not be longer than about 2,750 words. (Between 2250 – 2750)
1. Describe the case
Summarise the key facts of the case, including the parties, allegations made and the context.
2. Describe the decision (this should no more than 30% of the briefing).
Summarise the decision, including key legal findings.
Do NOT use very lengthy quotes from the decision. However a critical disputed phrase or definition should be quoted accurately, and key sentences or paragraphs expressing the core reasoning or decision are often very helpful to quote accurately. Make sure you reference the page or paragraph number if possible.
The actual structure is up to you, but you could cover the following aspects in order to help the reader make sense of what was at stake, and what happened:
• What arguments did the two or more parties each put forward?
• What outcome or orders did they want as a result?
• What supporting facts, policies, laws or legal cases or authorities did each of the parties rely on to bolster their arguments?
• Which way did the judge(s) decide on the key issues?
• Why did they reject the alternative arguments?
• What were the crucial facts, policies, laws and legal cases that influenced their thinking on this decision?
• What orders did they make?
NB: As in many legal matters, it is often more important to identify what the real issue is, what is at stake and what the choices are, than to get the ‘right’ answer. Lawyers will often disagree on what the right answer is in a specific case (or they should be thinking about how the opposite argument might be framed), but will generally agree about the issues the argument is about. That should be your priority too.
3. Why is this case important?
Describe why this case is important in cyberspace law, including any significant changes to law or practice resulting from the case. (Note: your allocated case may, in fact, not be that important!)
4. Your opinion (optional)
Do you think the decision was correct? Why? – state your reasons.
Note that this is an optional, minor part of the assignment, and should be based on a good appreciation of the decision itself and why various commentators think it is important. If in doubt, you are better off to focus on presenting the core details of the decision clearly and logically, and a little on its relevance and importance, and not offer an opinion.
5. References and Links
Provide references (with links if they exist) to the case and further sources of related information.
NB: In this simple case study, you don’t need to have many references, because this exercise is focussed on summarising the actual text of the decision, not finding lots of other material.
But for those items which you do include as references, please include proper bibliographic information to the full extent possible, such as author, title of the specific document, date written, publisher, where published etc.
NB: A bare web link/ URL/ Internet address alone is not an adequate reference; web links should be provided only as the final component of a proper bibliographic reference to a document or source you have used.
And please also note that the course materials are mere notes which are not available except behind a password, and to that extent are not really a ‘publication’ suitable for reliance in an essay, since most of your possible readers could not read them.
If you do quote from the class materials or draw most of your information on a specific point from them, you should of course acknowledge them, to avoid the accusation of plagiarism (copying without acknowledgement), but this is not preferred. Much better is to quote the various actual external sources and documents mentioned in the case decision or the class notes, with proper citations, since these are the relevant published sources. You can of course also refer to more recent commentary or other similarly high quality source material if you want, but little supporting documentation is required in this case summary task. Most of it is in the case itself and the explanatory material in the matching article that should be linked to most of them.
LINK to case: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/cth/FCA/2015/317.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=%20Dallas%20Buyers%20Club%20LLC
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