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First off today, Gene Maddaus at Variety reports that a jury has ordered the movie filtering service VidAngel to pay some $62.4 million for infringing the copyrights of the major movie studios.
The lawsuit centered on a streaming service that VidAngel operated. It allowed customers to “buy” a DVD for $20 and then stream it online all the while using VidAngel’s filtering tools to block objectionable content. Customers then “sold” the DVD back for $19 when they were done. The movie studios claimed that this was tantamount to an unlicensed streaming service and the judge agreed, setting the stage for a trial that only looked at damages VidAngel owed.
The amount VidAngel could have owed was very broad. The minimum was just $165,000 and the maximum was over $247 million. Most felt the realistic range was $16-$82 million and the jury awarded toward the higher end of that latter spectrum. The damages include $61.4 million for the copyright infringement and $1 million for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that took place when VidAngel broke the copy protection on the physical DVDs to stream them. VidAngel has promised to appeal the verdict. In the meantime, it’s streaming service is offline and it instead offers the ability to filter content on Netflix, Hulu and other services.
Next up today, Reuters reports that a French court has ruled that BeoutQ’s alleged satellite provider does have to answer in court for its alleged piracy of BeIN content but stopped short of issuing an injunction saying that BeIN failed to show “clear and illegal disruption” in the case.
BeoutQ, a satellite service allegedly carried by Arabsat, began streaming in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a boycott of Qatar, where BeIN is based. BeoutQ provided BeIN-exclusive sports content, in particular soccer, but has been met with a lot of push back from BeIN, FIFA and others involved. The lawsuit in France is part of the broader fight between the two.
There, the court agreed that BeoutQ was carried on Arabsat frequencies and that Arabsat “has a charge to answer.” However, it stopped short of ordering the blocking of Arabsat’s signals in France. Both BeIN and Arabsat welcomed the ruling in statements. Arabsat said that the ruling “rejected” all of the allegations against them, BeIN said that this gave them affirmation in a “legitimate” court and that it will support their cases elsewhere.
Finally today, Chris Smith at BGR reports that the lyrics site Genius is accusing Google of using their lyrics collection without permission. They made this determination by burying morse code in some of their lyrics and waiting for that content to appear in Google.
Genius became suspicious of Google back in 2016 when they got lyrics to the Desiigner song Prada. The song is very difficult to understand and Genius had to obtain the lyrics directly from the artist. When those lyrics appeared in Google Search exactly the same, Genius began to suspect something was up.
So Genius stealthily embedded morse code in some of their lyrics by alternating between straight and curly apostrophes. According to Genius, the code spelled out “Red Handed”. Google, however, claims that it gets its lyrics through a partnership with LyricFind that they launched in 2016. There is no indication what, if any, further action Genius plans on taking.