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First off today, Ben Winslow at Fox 13 reports that VidAngel, the controversial movie filtering service, has agreed to settle their lawsuit with the major movie studios. This brings an end to the lawsuit, which has been going on since 2016.
VidAngel rose to prominence years ago when it offered a movie streaming service where users would “buy” a DVD for $20 and then view it via their service, which included content filtering that removed content some users found objectionable. When they were done, users would “sell” the DVD back for $19, meaning that the actual stream cost just $1. The studios sued claiming that they were operating an unlicensed streaming service but VidAngel claimed it was protected by the Family Movie Act, which allows for the creation of filtering technology.
The courts, however, found in favor of the studios, awarding them a $62 million judgment. This caused VidAngel to seek bankruptcy protection as it sought to shift its business model. Now the sides have reached a settlement, which sees VidAngel agrees to pay $10 million over the next 14 years, not stream any of the studios’ films without permission and drop any future appeals. This settlement has been approved by the bankruptcy court and brings a close this case.
Next up today, Celese Skinner at Finance Magnates reports that Handsome Music has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against eToro USA over the alleged use of their music in a commercial for the company.
The commercial features Alec Baldwin demonstrating the use of the eToro app and has been widely played on YouTube. However, according to the lawsuit, the commercial used a song entitled Long Gaze without obtaining permission from the company. As such, the company obtained a copyright registration for the song, filing after it was alerted to the infringement, and has now filed a lawsuit over its use.
Handsome Music is seeking an injunction barring eToro from continuing to use the song as well as damages related to the commercial. That said, since the copyright registration was filed after the alleged infringement, it is unlikely that they will be able to seek either statutory damages or attorneys’ fees. Instead, they will have to settle for actual damages if they emerge victorious.
Finally today, Ernesto Van der Sar at Torrentfreak writes that the recent break up of the SPARKS release group has led to a massive drop in pirate releases, with the most popular category of such releases dropping from over 750 per day to nearly nothing over the course of a few days.
SPARKS was a piracy group that operated in “the Scene”, which is a small but core group of pirate groups that specialize in obtaining pre-release films and TV shows. Though actually comprised of dozens of groups, SPARKS was a key member of The Scene and there was significant overlap between its members and other groups. As such, when several arrests and raids were carried out last month, it caused a major disruption to all groups.
According to data provided by Predb.org, The Scene’s output saw a severe drop following the raids with the popular TV-X64 going from nearly 750 releases on August 23 to barely a dozen on August 26. For the games and eBooks categories, no new releases have come out since August 26. Some categories, such as MP3, are showing signs of recovery but its clear that the arrests have had a major impact on the entirety of The Scene, not just the SPARKS group.