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US jury says Disney owes $600k in motion-capture copyright trial

Post Time:2023-12-22 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

Dec 21 (Reuters) - Disney (DIS.N) should pay nearly $600,000 in copyright damages for using another company's motion-capture technology to make its 2017 live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast," a federal jury in California said in a verdict on Thursday.

The jury in Oakland found that Disney used Rearden LLC's MOVA Contour software without permission to render the face of the Beast, played by actor Dan Stevens.

The jury awarded Rearden more than $250,000 in actual damages and recommended that Disney pay Rearden more than $345,000 of its profits from the film, Rearden attorney Steve Berman confirmed.

A Disney spokesperson said that the company was "gratified that the jury properly rejected Rearden’s request for $38 million in profits" from the movie.

Rearden, founded by former Apple scientist Steve Perlman, first sued Disney in 2017. It said that a "rogue" Rearden employee stole the Contour technology and took it to another company, Digital Domain 3.0.

The lawsuit said Disney infringed Rearden's copyright in the Contour facial-capture software by working with Digital Domain to utilize the technology in the film.

Rearden said it had worked directly with Disney on other films that used Contour, including "Tron: Legacy" and "The Avengers," and claimed the entertainment giant should have known that Digital Domain did not have the right to use the technology.

Disney denied the allegations. The company argued that Rearden did not own the software's copyright when it was working on "Beauty and the Beast," and that it could not be liable for copyright infringement based on Digital Domain's use of the software.

Rearden sued for monetary damages, including a share of profits from Disney's movie. "Beauty and the Beast" earned more than $1.25 billion worldwide, according to Rearden's amended complaint.

Rearden has filed related lawsuits against Paramount and Disney's 20th Century Fox that were paused during the "Beauty and the Beast" case.

The company has also brought related allegations against Disney's Marvel over the alleged misuse of its technology in "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Those claims are also on hold.

The case is Rearden LLC v. Disney Enterprises Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 4:17-cv-04006.