VidAngel was recently ordered to pay $62.4 million in damages to Disney and other Hollywood studios for streaming movies without permission.
VidAngel, a company that used to allow customers to stream movies from Disney, Lucasfilm (now part of Disney), Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox for $1 each was recently ordered to pay the companies a “combined $62.4 million in damages for streaming movies without authorization.” In short, Disney and the lot sued VidAngel for copyright infringement and this is the result. VidAngel itself got started back in 2013, and ever since opening its doors for business it has been tackling with legal issues between the various Hollywood studios.
The original suit filed by the Hollywood studios sought $120 in damages and claimed VidAngel “committed willful copyright infringement, which comes with a maximum penalty of $150,000 per movie title.” It’s important to note that VidAngel “streamed about 800 titles owned by the studios.”
VidAngel pushed back against the allegations and argued it “previously sought legal advice before launching and believed they were operating within the law.” When speaking in defense of the company, VidAngel’s attorney’s said the company merely “committed innocent infringement and should, therefore, be required to pay much less.” Additionally, VidAngel claimed it was protected by the Family Movie Act, “which allows consumers to filter limited portions of an authorized copy of a movie for home viewing or to create a computer program or technology that filters content but doesn’t make a copy of that content.”
That didn’t stop a court from ruling that the company was, in fact, guilty of willful infringement. When issuing the court’s decision, a judge ruled that VidAngel “created unauthorized copies of movies by bypassing the technology protection measures to create the filtered copies they would then stream.” In the end, VidAngel was told to pay “$75,000 per movie title, along with another fine over $1 million for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”
When commenting on the court’s decision, Neal Harmon, the CEO of VidANgel, said:
“We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota. 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.”
A spokesperson for the plaintiff’s, however, welcomed the ruling and said it’s a “warning to others about the unlawful use of content…The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully, and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community.”