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First off today, Gene Maddaus at Variety reports that film streaming and filtering service VidAngel has filed for bankruptcy in a bid to put its ongoing copyright battle with the movie studios on hold.
VidAngel was a streaming service that allowed users to “purchase” a DVD for $20, stream it (filtering out undesirable parts of the film) and then “sell” it back for $19. The major movie studios sued claiming that VidAngel was an unlicensed video streaming service, but VidAngel claimed it was allowed under the Family Movie Act, which allows the creation of filtering tools.
The courts, however, have sided almost exclusively with the studios saying that the Family Movie Act was not a shield against creating an unlicensed streaming service. The studios won an injunction against VidAngel late last year and, though VidAngel tried to reemerge as an add-on to legitimate streaming services, it struggled to do so. VidAngel has now filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a bid to delay the ongoing lawsuit and work on its new service. According to VidAngel, this will allow them to pay any judgment that is awarded against them and continue operating.
Next up today, Wendy Davis at MediaPost reports that the First Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Ripoff Report against attorney Richard Goren in his long-running battle to get a negative (and allegedly defamatory) review of him removed from the site.
The review was posted by a Christian Dupont, who was sued by Goren for libel. Goren won a default judgment and the court awarded him copyright in the review itself. However, when he attempted to use that copyright to get the review removed, Ripoff Report refused, saying that, when the review was posted, they were granted an irrevocable license that meant they could never be compelled to remove it.
Goren attempted to argue that the clickthrough license Ripoff Report used was inadequate for such a significant rights transfer. However, the Court of Appeals felt differently, saying that it was adequate and that the license was valid. The court also said that the Communications Decency Act protected Ripoff Report on any libel claims.
Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the case over CGI characters in movies is coming to a head as both sides go to a California court to argue over who has the rights to computer-generated characters in films.
At issue is Rearden LLC, who claims to own motion capture software named MOVA. According to them, parts of their software were stolen by a Chinese competitor, that then sold cheaper versions of it to film studios, including Disney, Fox and Paramount. Though Rearden successfully got an injunction against the Chinese company, they now are targeting their customers, saying that the films and characters they created using the knockoff software are also infringements.
Specifically, Rearden is alleging that the output of its software is not the copyright of the users, but of the programmers. The studios have hit back saying that would be akin to Microsoft owning the copyright of everything written in Microsoft Word. However, Rearden counter-argues that their software does the “lions share” of the work and, as such, they should be considered the rightful creators of the characters the software outputs. The studios have another chance to reply before the judge will weigh in.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.