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Dallas Buyers Club turns down appeal, holds firm on damages

Dallas Buyers Club has opted not to appeal a landmark ruling in its piracy case against iiNet, saying "the door is not closed" on recovering "additional damages."

"Dallas Buyers Club." Pinnacle Films

Lawyers for Dallas Buyers Club will not appeal the judge's decision in their case against iiNet, saying the rights holders are still interested in accessing pirates' details in order to pursue "additional damages" beyond what the court originally allowed.

In a Federal Court hearing last month, Justice Nye Perram ruled that the rights holders behind the film "Dallas Buyers Club" would not get access to details of internet users alleged to have pirated the film unless they agreed to adhere to conditions put in place by the court. DBC was seeking this information in order to write to alleged pirates and seek financial damages for downloading the film without paying.

The case between Dallas Buyers Club and iiNet has been running since 2014, setting the tone for much of the ongoing debate around legitimate responses to piracy by rights holders and regulators. But through his decision last month, Justice Perram has set a significant precedent that will require rights holders to outline what they will demand from pirates before they are given access to their contact details.

In his judgement, Justice Perram said the rights holders' expectations of damages were "surreal" in their overreach, and that DBC "still has to explain what it is going to demand of the people it writes to." The judge once again raised concerns that DBC would engage in a process that has seen rights holders in other jurisdictions demand thousands of dollars from pirates over film downloads.

DBC was seeking damages for the cost of the downloaded film and the cost of detecting piracy activity, both of which the judge allowed for. However, they also sought damages for how many times the film had been uploaded by a user, and punitive damages for users' history of pirating other content.

Justice Perram said DBC could only contact pirates if it guaranteed to only pursue the first two points.

However, lawyers for Dallas Buyers Club now say they have elected not to appeal this decision, indicating they are still interested in chasing the damages they originally sought and will take another course of action to do so.

Michael Bradley, managing partner at Marque Lawyers, the firm representing DBC, said the decision not to contest the ruling "was based on the inherent risks associated with an appeal."

According to Bradley, there is also scope to find a "viable" path forward that takes into account Justice Perrams' full judgement and his reasoning for blocking the release of customer details.

"We are considering a further approach to his Honour to lift the stay on his order that the identifying information be released, taking into account the findings and comments in his most recent judgement," said Bradley.

"In particular, it is clear from that judgment that the door is not closed to a recovery of additional damages, so we are considering alternative approaches to satisfying his concerns."

Bradley would not give a timeline, but said further action is expected "in the not too distant future."

The case continues.