After its practices were ruled illegal by a U.S. district judge, streaming site VidAngel was ordered by a jury to pay $62.4 million to Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox for streaming their films without permission.
VidAngel offered users the ability to watch films with violence, sex and other mature content edited out. But it was ordered to shut down in late 2016 after it was accused of airing edited versions of films without permission from studios.
The studios asked the jury to enforce the maximum penalty of $125 million, while attorneys for the defendants argued that VidAngel should only pay the minimum of $600,000, because the company believed what it was doing was legal under the Family Movie Act.
VidAngel, which has already filed for bankruptcy in Utah, found a second life as a filtering service for streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, but the damages the company will have to pay will likely force it to liquidate.
“We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota. VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well,” said VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon.
The studios applauded the jury’s decision.
“The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully, and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community,” read a statement from the plaintiffs.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report