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Judge Clarifies Video Pipeline Order

17 Apr, 2002 By: HM Editorial Staff

U.S. District Court Judge Jerome B. Simandle has confirmed that his recent order prohibiting Video Pipeline Inc. (VPI) from streaming certain 'clip previews' of home video releases on the Internet applied only to a handful of promos identified in the case, which Video Pipeline voluntarily refrained from showing since July of last year.

The judge's clarification was a response to contentions from Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Miramax Films (divisions of The Walt Disney Company) attorneys claiming Video Pipeline was not complying with the order unless it stopped streaming previews of all new home video releases.

Simandle rejected their argument and agreed with Video Pipeline that the injunction applied only to the creating or streaming of 'clip previews' of movies distributed by BVHE. Video Pipeline may still stream previews produced by the studio for hundreds of catalog titles as well as upcoming releases.

Video Pipeline contends providing shopping consumers with brief video samples promoting the sale and rental of home videos is permitted under the copyright law, just like a bookstore allowing users to browse a few pages of a book before purchasing it.

Simandle's order barring Video Pipeline from using its trailers for 62 test titles on its Web site found, among other things, that Video Pipeline's trailers in some cases substantially distorted either the technical quality of or the studio's marketing message about the titles, potentially harming the films' video profits.

"It is likely that the previews Video Pipeline provides for its retailer customers may harm the market for the copyrighted motion picture, either due to the quality of the previews or because if its flawed representations," Simandle wrote.

Video Pipeline's attorneys argued the trailers actually benefit the studio with broader exposure and Buena Vista is trying to cut out the middlemen, especially on the Internet, and force companies to buy directly from its Web site.

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