Video filtering company VidAngel has reached a new settlement in a four-year copyright dispute with Disney, Warner Brothers and other studios, reducing its liability from a $62.4 million jury verdict to now $9.9 million, which would allow the streaming company to fully emerge from bankruptcy.
“After a long and extremely difficult legal battle in one of the biggest copyright cases in decades, we have finally come to an agreement in which VidAngel can emerge from bankruptcy and move forward as a rapidly-growing company,” said the entertainment platform that was created to help families filter out language, nudity, violence and other content from movies and TV series.
In exchange for the cutdown of its liability, VidAngel had to agree not to decrypt, copy, stream or distribute the content of Disney, Warner Brothers and their affiliates without permission from the studios.
As part of the settlement, VidAngel has also agreed to drop its 9th Circuit legal appeal and pay $9.9 million over 14 years to Disney and Warner Brothers.
“As with any compromise, we had to make painfully difficult concessions to arrive at this agreement, as did Disney and Warner Brothers,” VidAngel said.
“Now, we can reward you for all of your support with incredible original content like 'The Chosen' and 'Dry Bar Comedy,' and expand our mission to help you make entertainment good for your home,” the Provo, Utah-based filtering company added.
The lawsuit against the independent company was filed in 2016, in which Disney, Warner Brothers and others claimed that the video streaming service was infringing on their copyrighted material.
The Hollywood studios initially sought about $120 million in damages because they claimed VidAngel had committed willful copyright infringement.
In total, VidAngel streamed about 800 titles owned by the studios and argued that it sought legal advice before launching the company and operated within the law. In court, the company’s defense was that it “committed innocent infringement and should, therefore, be required to pay much less,” ksl.com reported at the time.
After the filtering company was found guilty of willful infringement, its CEO Neal Harmon said in a statement shared with The Christian Post at the time, “We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota.”
The Parents Television Council also issued a statement at the time.
“After sitting in the federal courtroom for the better part of a week, listening to the arguments on both sides of the case, I was absolutely baffled by the jury’s conclusion that VidAngel’s actions were willful violations of the copyright law. I am deeply disappointed that the jury chose to award $62 million in damages to Disney and Warner Brothers, and I fear that this judgment today may sound the death knell for content filtering unless the Congress steps forward to update the Family Movie Act of 2005,” said PTC President Tim Winter at the time.
Although the Family Movie Act of 2005 legalizes such technology for movies and videos played on DVD players, a group of Hollywood movie studios sued in “Hollywood-friendly courts” in Southern California to get a ban on filtering technology from being used on programs streamed over the internet.
“Hollywood studios are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill it,” Winter told The Christian Post earlier. “They have spent maybe millions of dollars in legal fees by bankrupting companies with legal threats of piracy. They claim this is copywriting infringement but they made those same claims with the DVDs and lost there.”