18 June 2019Copyright

VidAngel must pay film studios $62m

A California jury yesterday, June 17, ordered VidAngel to pay just under $62 million to Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros. for wilful infringement of its copyright, the American video streaming company has confirmed.

In a blog post, VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon said that the company plans to appeal against the verdict.

VidAngel operates a filtering service which gives users the option to skip content such as profanity, violence and nudity.

Basing its service on this model, VidAngel offered films, including those owned by the plaintiffs, for sale to the public for $1 each.

In December 2016, the US District Court for the Central District of California declared the service to be illegal following a copyright infringement lawsuit from the film studios.

Following a jury trial to determine damages, VidAngel has now been ordered to pay $61,425,000 for wilful infringement of the studios’ copyright.

In the statement, Harmon said that “we find today’s ruling unfortunate, but it has not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families”.

“VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well,” the statement added.

In the December 2016 ruling, the district court found that there was “uncontroverted evidence” that VidAngel was providing its services without a licence from the copyright owners.

The court issued an injunction preventing VidAngel from displaying any of the plaintiffs’ copyright protected works.

VidAngel appealed against the 2016 injunction to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In August 2017, the Ninth Circuit rejected VidAngel’s claims, finding that the district court had “substantial evidence before it that VidAngel’s service undermines the value of the studios’ copyrighted works”.

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