June 17, 2019

Hollywood Studios Win $62 Million Statutory Damages Award

Munger, Tolles & Olson represented Disney, Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Marvel, New Line and Turner Entertainment in winning a copyright lawsuit against VidAngel. On June 17, 2019, a jury in federal court awarded the studios statutory damages of $62.4 million on account of VidAngel’s infringement of the studios’ movies and unlawful circumvention in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

The copyright damages award – $75,000 per-work infringed, for a total of more than $61 million – is one of the largest jury awards of statutory damages (on a per-work and total basis) ever in a mass-infringement copyright case.

The defendant, VidAngel, claimed at trial that it believed its infringing activities and circumvention were authorized by a narrow exception to copyright liability called the Family Movie Act. At earlier stages of the proceeding, the district court disagreed with VidAngel’s legal defense, granting the studios’ motions for a preliminary injunction (affirmed by the Ninth Circuit) and summary judgment on liability. The trial concerned the issue of statutory damages.

At trial, the studios argued – and the jury found – that VidAngel acted willfully when it infringed the studios’ copyrights in nearly 820 movies and television shows.

The Munger, Tolles & Olson trial team was comprised of Kelly M. Klaus, Blanca Fromm Young, Rose Leda Ehler, Juliana M. Yee, Stephanie G. Herrera and Rowley J. Rice. Glenn D. Pomerantz provided strategic leadership throughout the case.