Spenser Heaps, KSL file
Lauren Bennett, KSL.com
Posted – Sep. 4, 2020 at 8:06 p.m.
$62.4 million judgment in a copyright lawsuit against VidAngel has been cut significantly to $9.9 million in damages as part of a new settlement.
The news came Friday, as the Provo-based streaming company announced an agreement had been reached in the lawsuit with several studios — including Disney and Warner Bros. — allowing the company to “fully emerge from bankruptcy.”
The service filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and filed a reorganization plan in early March amid the $62.4 million judgment in the case.
The settlement was finalized in Utah’s bankruptcy court and approved by Judge Kevin R. Anderson, according to a news release.
In 2016, Disney, Warner Bros. and a few other studios sued the company for copyright infringement claiming VidAngel had unlawfully reproduced copyrighted content to offer filtered versions to users. In 2019, a judge ruled the company was liable for copyright infringement, and it was later ruled that VidAngel must pay more than $60 million to the studios in damages.
As part of Friday’s settlement, officials said VidAngel will make the payout over a 14-year period, drop its 9th Circuit legal appeal, and not “decrypt, copy, stream or distribute” any content from Disney, Warner Brothers, or affiliates without studio permission.
As for the studios’ part of the agreement, they compromised by discounting the original $62.4 million judgment.
“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,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon said.
His statement continued, saying both VidAngel and the studios were faced with “painfully difficult concessions” in negotiations to reach the settlement.
Harmon also thanked the company’s supporters “who have stood with us through thick and thin over the last four years of a battle that all-too-often looked lost and hopeless.”
Now that the company is on the other side of the battle, Harmon said the service can bring original content like “The Chosen” and “Dry Bar Comedy” to its customers.
The company also still offers filtered content through popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that allow you to skip or mute “things you don’t want to see or hear in movies and TV shows,” namely nudity and profanity.