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First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the trial between the three major film studios and VidAngel that will determine the damages VidAngel owes the studios for its infringement.
VidAngel, in a previous incarnation, launched a streaming service through which users could “buy” a DVD for $20, stream it while filtering out objectionable content, and then sell it back for $19. The movie studios said this was tantamount to an unauthorized streaming service and the court agreed, ruling that VidAngel was liable.
However, that leaves open the issue of just how much VidAngel owes. To that end, there are several issues at play including the number of works involved, whether the ripping of the DVDs counts as a separate infringement from the streaming and whether or not VidAngel was an innocent infringer. If the movie studios have their way, the theoretical maximum is $247.2 million in damages with $16-$82 million being more likely. If VidAngel gets its way, the absolute minimum is just $165,000. The trial is scheduled to begin June 11.
Next up today, Mohamed Imranullah S. at The Hindu reports that, in India, famous composer R. Ilaiyaraaja has won a key victory in Madras High Court that secures him the moral rights to his work and gives him the ability to restrict record labels from exploiting it if the use would harm his honor or reputation.
Ilaiyaraaja is best known as a composer for motion pictures and has created some 4,500 songs for over 1,000 movies in his career. However, when he became upset over record labels selling copies of his songs without his permission, filed a lawsuit. He claimed that, even though he had assigned the rights to the songs to other entities, that India’s moral rights regime still grants him the ability to control uses of his work that he finds objectionable.
The lawsuit was filed in 2014 and has been bouncing around the courts for nearly 5 years. However, this new ruling gives Ilaiyaraaja the right to object to any distortion, mutilation, modification or that he feels would harm his honor or reputation.
Finally today, the World Intellectual Property Review reports that Horror Inc. and Victor Miller, the author of the screenplay for Friday the 13th, are heading to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether was an employee at the time he wrote the screenplay and if he able to terminate the license to the work.
Victor Miller filed copyright termination notices in 2016 announcing his intention to reclaim full control over the screenplay. Copyright termination allows creators to cancel transfers and exclusive licenses after a period of time, but it does not apply to works by employees. Miller contended that he was an independent contractor but Horror Inc. contends that the Writers’ Guild of America agreement Miller operated under made it clear that he was an employee.
Despite that contention, the lower court ruled that Miller was indeed an independent contractor and now Horror Inc. is asking the appeals court to overturn that decision on the grounds that the collective bargaining agreement and the fact that, according to them, the termination notices were not filed in a timely manner.