VidAngel Loses Court Case on DVD Filtering and Streaming
G-rated streaming service VidAngel has lost a battle in the courts, as federal judge Andre Birotte decided that its DVD filtering and streaming service violated copyrights and is prohibited from operating. The Provo, Utah-based company operated by buying mainstream movies on DVD and letting customers watch movies remotely while skipping past adult material.
The service claimed it actually sold the DVDs to viewers for $20 each, then bought the DVDs back for $19 each after the viewing was over. Many of the titles it offered weren't available on streaming services at the time.
For its defense, VidAngel pointed to the 2005 Family Movie Act, which allows for the development of technology to sanitize adult content on DVDs and VOD services.
"Today’s rulings have rendered the 2005 Family Movie Act meaningless, subverting the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives in Congress," wrote co-founder and CEO Neal Harmon in a statement. "We are renewing our call for leaders in Washington, D.C. to take decisive action to preserve the right they intended to afford families by passing the Family Movie Act Clarification bill, first introduced last year. And as we’ve promised, we intend to fight this battle until the rights of families are secure for the 21st century."
VidAngel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2017. It troubles are far from over, as the court still needs to decide what its damage costs will be. The studios that brought the lawsuit place the figure between $950,000 and $152.5 million. Variety notes the company has $2.4 million in the bank.
In 2017, Vid Angel created a service that filters content from online streaming services, including Netflix. That service is still operating.
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Noting how disruptive the ruling would be to the broadcast industry, the judge put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.