Four months after Warner Bros sued Innovative Artists over what it called the “blatantly illegal” online distribution of films given out as Oscar screeners, the parties have settled the case — just days before the Academy Awards.
Warners’ copyright-infringement suit had claimed that, “Beginning in late 2015, Innovative Artists set up and operated an illegal digital distribution platform that copied movies and then distributed copies and streamed public performances of those movies to numerous people inside and outside of the agency….In some cases, Innovative Artists’ infringing copies of Plaintiff’s works quickly made their way from Innovative Artists’ platform to online piracy sites while those movies were still being made available to the general public exclusively in theaters.” Among the films cited as being pirated were Creed and In the Heart of the Sea.
The same day the suit was filed, Innovative apologized publicly for what it termed “the improper sharing of the screener movies” and vowed to “resolve this matter with Warner Bros. on fair and reasonable terms as soon as possible.” That happened today, with formal settlement papers expected to be filed in the next few days.
Many TV nets and streaming services have turned to an online-only screener system in recent years after review copies of Game of Thrones and others were put online before the shows’ news seasons had debuted. But Academy voters still get their big-screen contenders primarily in DVD form — something other studios might want to be thinking about after Warner Bros’ experience here.