“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,” the studios said in a joint statement.
U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte previously ruled that VidAngel’s service was illegal, and left the decision up to jurors to decide on the amount of the damages. Immediately after Monday’s decision, VidAngel vowed to appeal.
“We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota,” CEO Neal Harmon said in a statement. “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.”
VidAngel rips content from DVD copies, and streams them to users after filtering out profanity, nudity and violence from movies and TV series on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO.
Birotte ordered the service to shut down in December 2016. The company relaunched a filtering service for Netflix and Amazon, which is still in operation.
However, the large verdict is a financial blow to the Utah-based company, which is already in bankruptcy. If the verdict is upheld on appeal, it could force VidAngel out of business.