Warner Bros. Settles Lawsuit Against Talent Agency for Distributing Oscar Screeners

Stallone in Creed - H 2016

Warner Bros. has come to an agreement with Innovative Artists to end a copyright lawsuit over the alleged pirating of Oscar screeners.

Court papers formally ending the case have yet to be filed, but The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the studio's dispute with the talent agency has been settled in advance of this year's Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday.

The piracy of Oscar screeners has long been a sensitive issue for Hollywood, which encourages awards campaigns but is fiercely protective of intellectual property. According to the complaint filed in October by Warner Bros., Innovative Artists took awards-consideration DVDs, used ripping software to bypass encryption,and then put digital copies of the films on what the studio characterized as an "illegal digital distribution platform."

The platform apparently was set up for the talent agency's clients, but the agency's executives were reported to have provided access credentials to family members, friends and others outside the agency. Warner Bros. alleged in its suit that digital copies of the screeners made their way to online piracy sites while those movies were still in theaters. 

The screeners were watermarked, though, and so the studio traced piracy of two of its films, Creed and In the Heart of the Sea, to screeners sent to Innovative Artists clients, in care of the agency.

The lawsuit asserted claims of copyright infringement and the access-control provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In response to the suit, Innovative Artists stated that it had cooperated with Warner Bros, and after being informed that movies had been found on torrent sites, access to its platform had been shut down. 

Warner Bros.' lawsuit acknowledged the agency had terminated its digital distribution platform, but faulted the defendant for not coming to an agreement to prevent it from using the studio's works to populate a similar distribution platform in the future.

The two sides now have come to some sort of deal, although neither side would comment about what the resolution entails.