The Arlington cable television system has agreed to pay a total of $60,000 to nine motion picture companies to settle a copyright infringement suit brought two months ago.
In an agreement filed this week in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the Arlington Telecommunications Corp., known as ARTEC, said it agreed to pay the settlement, plus about $35,000 in additional royalty fees to the Copyright Office, to avoid having to resort to expensive litigation.
The Motion Picture Association of American Inc. hailed the settlement, saying it will go a long way to assuring that cable system operators strictly comply with the copyright laws.
When the suit was filed last July, MPAA called it the opening salvo against cable operators who have refused to pay royalty fees for retransmitting broadcasting signals from television stations in distant cities to their customers.
According to the motion picture companies, ARTEC failed to file the correct amount of royalty fees required by law in 1979 and 1981 and no royalty fees at all in 1980.
John D. Evans, the executive vice president of ARTEC said that the suit stemmed from ARTEC's inadvertent failure to file some statements of account with the Copyright Office.
As soon as that failure and some errors in the statements were discovered, the reports were promptly corrected and all royalty fees paid, Evans said.
Under the suit, ARTEC could have been liable for $3.6 million in damages, since the studies charged ARTEC with 362 violations, each subject to a $250-$10,000 fine.
Arthur Scheiner, the attorney for the motion picture companies, said that in light of ARTEC's good faith attempt to correct all errors in its copyright statements, the $60,000 settlement was a good one.
He added, however, that the settlement should not be regarded as a precedent for future company actions in copyright infringement cases.
The companies suing ARTEC were Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., Embassy Communications; Filmways Pictures Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film Co; Paramount Pictures Corp., Twentieth-Century Fox Film Corp., United Artists Corp., Universal City Studios Inc., Warner Brothers Inc. and various subsidiaries of these firms.