DVD stores face legal action after ruling

Attorney Anthony Norton, representing the studios and the distributor, said the rental outlets now face claims of damages by the major studios.

http://www.capeargus.co.za
June 13, 2008

DVD stores face legal action after ruling

Fouzia van der Fort

Video and DVD rental stores across South Africa may face legal action if they are found contravening copyright laws, after the Cape High Court barred Mr Video and 22 of its franchises from renting DVDs not acquired through local authorised licensee Nu Metro.

Cape High Court judge Burton Fourie had by agreement by both parties earlier this week ordered that Mr Video not hire out films which Nu Metro has the sole SA copyright authority for.

Nu Metro Filmed Entertainment and the US's major films studios - Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Warner Bros Entertainment and Videovision Entertainment - lodged an application against Mr Video and 22 of its national franchises saying they had hired out at least 100 titles of recently released films without the consent of the studio that owns the copyright.

Mr Video's chief operations officer André Grobler said in a statement that they agreed the studios were entitled to the court interdict. But Grobler said they were not fighting the studios, but Nu Metro.

"This fight is not about us, but about what is made available to the South African public, when and who controls the price.

"We are also not aware of any claims for damages. These were legitimate copies for which the royalties were paid to a legitimate supplier and they were all registered at the South African Film & Publication Board."

He said it was not about the product being illegal but whether they had the right to rent it out to the public.

Attorney Anthony Norton, representing the studios and the distributor, said the rental outlets now face claims of damages by the major studios.

He said in some instances, the titles were released for rental by Mr Video before their theatrical release here.

Norton's partner John Oxenham said the ruling paved the way for further legal action against other DVD rental stores.


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