Courts

Judge Deals Setback to VidAngel

VidAngel is evaluating court’s decision, but says denial of motion doesn’t affect its new video filtering system 8/03/2017 11:01 AM Eastern Last updated at 8/03/2017 11:39 AM

VidAngel, a video filtering company that scrubs nudity, violence and profanity from movies and TV shows, was denied a motion to provide a complete green light for the company’s new filtering service as a court held that it’s not in a position to make a declaration  “[w]ithout further factual development on this issue.”

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In June, VidAngel shifted to a new app-based system that filtered existing streams from OTT services such as Netflix and Amazon after it was enjoined from an earlier model whereby it bought DVD copies, decrypted them, and then charged customers for the streamed, filtered versions. VidAngel has been seeking an order clarifying that its new platform doesn’t violate the earlier order against its earlier DVD-based model.  VidAngel’s new system is up and running, but does not filter content from the four studios that are suing VidAngel: Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., and Lucasfilm.

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"Whereas the previous version of VidAngel’s service involved the decryption of a DVD or Blu-Ray disc, VidAngel’s current service involves generating a framebuffer version of movie data from a digital transmission that VidAngel purchases through a licensed streaming service," Andre Birotte Jr., judge with the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, wrote Wednesday (Aug. 2) in the decision, posted here by The Hollywood Reporter. "VidAngel’s request for a declaration that their new service doesn’t violate the Court’s order is essentially an action for a declaratory judgment and is not appropriate for resolution in a motion to clarify."

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"This is simply one issue among many that will be involved in determining whether VidAngel’s new service complies with the Copyright Act and the Court’s preliminary injunction," Birotte added. "Without further factual development on this issue, the Court is not in the position to declare the rights of the parties with regard to this new service."

VidAngel argues that the studios are attempting to “eviscerate” the 2005 Family Movie Act, and said it’s prepared to take its case to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

"Judge Birotte's denial of VidAngel's motion today was based purely on procedural grounds and not on the merits of our case,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon said, in a statement. “ Our attorneys are evaluating the decision and will decide next steps in the near future. It is important for everyone to note that this does not affect VidAngel's new system, which is fully up and running, it simply delays our ability to provide customers with content created by the plaintiffs."

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