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VidAngel Clips Its Own Wings, for Now

1/09/2017 8:00 AM Eastern

WASHINGTON — The latest “Star Wars” movie is called Rogue One, but for Lucasfilm, the studio behind the franchise, the “rogue one” of the online streaming space is Utah-based content-filtering company VidAngel.


VidAngel has said it has temporarily stopped streaming copies of Hollywood content, but it continues to press its case in court.


A fight over whether a law — the Family Movie Act, which allows for family-friendly versions of copyrighted content — supersedes the distribution business’s contractual business models continues, with VidAngel requesting an emergency stay of a court injunction against its video-streaming service after a judge from the U.S. District Court from the Central District of California denied a similar request for a stay.


In the meantime, VidAngel said it has suspended that service, which provides ready-for-filtering online versions of films and TV shows.


VidAngel filed for the stay on Dec. 29 with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, after U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. denied VidAngel’s request to stay the injunction Birotte himself had imposed.


The district court has yet to hear the underlying case in a suit filed by Lucasfilm; its parent, The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox; and Warner Bros.


“VidAngel has received the District Court’s denial of our stay request and is complying,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon said. “For the time being, movies will no longer be available for filtering. Because judges rarely grant a stay of their own orders, we fully expected the court to rule this way.”


After the 9th Circuit also said no, VidAngel asked supporters to ask Congress to update the Family Movie Act.


Last month, the court told VidAngel to stop circumventing copyright protections on DVDs or streaming any of that content over the Internet. The company didn’t, saying it would be difficult and that it was waiting for a decision on its appeal.


VidAngel argues that it is only giving users the ability to more effectively filter content — skipping the nude scenes, or muting the language if they choose — in their own homes. The studios argue it is illegally circumventing copy protections, modifying and streaming their content and preempting their windows for releasing their content online. The company said it would continue its fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

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