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Warner Bros. Sues Innovative Artists Over Screener Leak

UPDATED: Warner Bros. filed suit today against Innovative Artists Talent and Literary Agency, alleging that the talent agency put awards screeners on in-house Google Drive account, allowing them to leak to file-sharing sites.

The suit states that two WB films — “Creed” and “In the Heart of the Sea” — appeared online in December 2015, after the studio distributed screeners. Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, which provides “content security” for studios, notified Warner Bros that the films had been pirated and that the watermarks traced back to an Innovative Artists’ client.

According to the suit, Innovative Artists would routinely rip DVD screeners intended for clients and upload them to a shared Google Drive account. Numerous people inside and outside the company had access to the films on the account, including managers, friends and relatives. On one occasion, the agency gave an assistant who worked at another company access to the account in exchange for a screener that was not already in the database.

Innovative Artists did not immediately return a call seeking comment. However, it appears from the lawsuit that the agency cooperated with Warner Bros. when notified of the leak. The agency shut down the Google Drive account — which had been active for only a month — and provided user logs to Warner Bros. According to the logs, more than 20 people downloaded the films from the account over a five-day period.

In the suit, Warner Bros. called the shared account “blatantly illegal,” and alleged that should have been obvious to a talent agency whose clients’ livelihoods depend on copyright protection. The suit seeks monetary damages and an injunction that would bar Innovative Artists from establishing a similar file-sharing arrangement in the future.

Deadline Hollywood was first to report the news.

Innovative Artists issued a statement late Monday apologizing to Warner Bros., while noting that sharing of screeners is commonplace in the industry:

“Innovative Artists has fully cooperated with Warner Bros. from the first moment Warner Bros. informed Innovative that two award screener movies had been found on an Internet bit torrent site in December 2015. Innovative immediately permitted Warner Bros. to enter it’s offices, interview it’s employees, review its databases, and fully investigate the issues. As Warner Bros. well-knows, Innovative management immediately shut down all access to award screeners in December 2015 and Innovative immediately ceased any further activity that is the subject of the complaint. Warner Bros. is well aware, from its past experience with other industry entities, the sharing of award screeners is commonplace within the Hollywood community. Innovative was surprised, given its full cooperation with Warner Bros. investigation, that the complaint was filed without any communication from Warner Bros. without any prior contact with Innovative to resolve the claims. Notwithstanding that fact, Innovative is sorry for the improper sharing of the screener movies and will seek to resolve this matter with Warner Bros. on fair and reasonable terms as soon as possible. Innovative will have no further comment on this matter.”

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