UPDATE: Read VidAngel’s and Disney’s Appeal Briefs to the Ninth Circuit

Legal BattleJustice in the United States court system requires patience (this battle could take years to resolve), but we are trying to keep everyone up-to-date on the progress of the fight to #savefiltering. Here is our report on the appeal to the Ninth Circuit:

December 12th, 2016 - Judge Birotte issues a Preliminary Injunction. You can read the ruling here.
January 11th, 2017 - VidAngel files its Opening Brief on Appeal to the Ninth District Court. The introduction starts at page 17. 
February 8th, 2017 - Disney filed its response (including Disney's standard manipulative mud slinging)

February 22nd, 2017 - VidAngel files its final reply before the Ninth Circuit hearing. 

VidAngel’s mission is to ensure families everywhere have the option to filter content as they wish. The future of filtering is in good hands because these appeals are being argued by Peter K. Stris, who has been to the Supreme Court 7 times.

There is a lot to digest, but we feel that the final two paragraphs of our most recent brief sum it up well:

"Although the public interest in filtering is strong and Congressionally sanctioned, the injunction robbed the public of any viable means to filter. VidAngel is shut down; ClearPlay no longer functions for [streaming] new releases; and the Studios have scared everyone else away.

"According to the Studios, the relevant public interest is in 'upholding copyright protections.' The Studios have confused themselves with the public. The actual public has no interest in seeing America’s only commercially and technologically viable filtering company destroyed through an unnecessary preliminary injunction. The legal questions in this case are as complex and novel as they are important. If the Studios prevail, they will be entitled to damages. If VidAngel prevails, they will not. In either case, there will be a final judgment that 'upholds copyright protections.'"
Now we are just waiting to know when we will get a hearing. We will continue to keep you up to date.

53 thoughts on “UPDATE: Read VidAngel’s and Disney’s Appeal Briefs to the Ninth Circuit

  1. Keep fighting the good fight! Congress meant to protect families’ right to filter. The Studios are blatantly ignoring that, which your team explained quite clearly in their arguments.

    1. Thank you for the detailed update. That is the kind of update I have been waiting for. I appreciate that you are fighting this battle for us and as much as I am grateful for the movies these companies make, I would not feel comfortable watching many of them without you guys. So thanks for all you do and keeping us up to date. I will continue to spread the word. 🙂

  2. Obviously, I see no reason why Hollywood should be unhappy that people are watching movies with a filtering service that they would not have watched otherwise.

  3. I contacted my representatives in congress asking that the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act be updated to include streaming. It was written in 2005. YouTube started in 2005. No one had really considered how big streaming was going to get yet.

    Anyway, they were pretty useless in their replies. Just boilerplate stuff. But they did say thanks, it’s good to know my thoughts and opinions about issues. So hopefully that counts for something.

    1. Excellent idea! Mitch McConnell is our senator, so I look forward to contacting his office. Thank you for this information! The more they hear, the better.

  4. Man, these documents are so fascinating to read. When VidAngel wins this whole saga should be made into a movie!

  5. This whole thing is just classic oligopoly bullying… it reminds me of the story of Preston Tucker (which did make a good movie by the way… but ended badly for Preston).

    In my mind the issue is with the oligopoly members not wanting the standard raised on their product. If one viable long-term player with any significant market-share or public presence provides a significantly different (and better) customer experience… like the ability to customize/filter content. Then in a short-period of time… ALL the players in the market will have to follow suit and provide a similar experience. The problem is for the existing players this will inevitably lead to a loss in market share or a reduction in profit margin or both… so they’re going to fight it tooth and nail.

    They’re argument that this is just a streaming service and the only reason I do it is because it’s cheaper is garbage… I would pay double the price… honestly to watch filtered movies the way vidangel has presented it (granted… at double the price I would probably watch less… but I would still buy) because it’s filtered… I just don’t want to watch the crap… and have stopped watching as many movies… since vidangel’s injuction.

    Good luck to you… I hope you figure something out.

  6. I SO SO SO am praying for vidangel to win! If Hollywood has their way…we will not be watching movies at all! Keep at it Vidangel!

  7. I will be praying for you guys to win! This source is such an amazing thing and I would hate to see it go away.

  8. This will not be resolved anytime soon because VidAngel doesn’t stand a chance at winning a Ninth Circuit ruling. The Ninth Circuit is stacked with liberal activists judges who pay no attention to our laws or the Constitution. Instead of interpreting law as they are supposed to do they create law based on their own personal views. The only way VidAngel can win is with a Supreme Court hearing. Good luck!

    1. The problem with VidAngel’s case is that they had been marketing religious, family values as a reason why filtering is important to the public. It is. Hollywood does not care about family values and quite often promotes anything to disrupt the image of having a happy home as these themes and scenes are what they believe and their league of movie producers, directors, actors, movie critics, fans, etc make them artistic, edgy and a lot of money. If VidAngel would have held themselves out as a protesting band of corporate resistors fighting to make the cinematic experience more personal, intimate and cathartic for even the lowest paid sculptors, thespians and students to enjoy, then they would have stood a better chance of the left coast, left leaning courts making a better, more favorable decision.

      1. Very clever idea! On a related note, the double talk of the studios is nauseating. I don’t know what would be worse – if they are so used to lying to get their way that they don’t even realize their hypocrisy, or if they really believe that they are standing up for American values.

  9. Same here. Praying for you guys and just finished watching your first movie. Excellent job and keep fighting the good fight.

  10. Have you asked one million moms or AFA to support the cause? I think they would give support and help you rally. Thank you for fighting the fight!

  11. Have you reached out to actors/ actress. Maybe they could help the case? Good luck on the fight VidAngel has ruined me now I don’t watch movies unless they are in tv or the in theatre once in a great while. All in all we miss you!!😩😩

  12. For as long as I can remember, the TV Stations have been play (Filtered) movies for years. How is it that they can show a TV (Filtered) version of a movie and no one else can.

  13. Thanks a for putting the filed court docs up where they can be seen. I think VidAngel should be more aggressive and consistent with its posts, to keep its community engaged. I’m rooting for this.

  14. I am really hoping that you can prevail in this fight. If only the courts will actually uphold the law and not just write their own. It is the studios that are breaking the law. Shouldn’t there be some kind of anti trust anti monopoly laws to protect against their bullying!!!

  15. We (our family and friends ) have truly enjoyed VidAngel and was beginning to watch more and more movies because of the filters. But stopped because of the injunction. There were very few movies that we could watch without the filters. We hope that you do win against these enormous odds. But as mentioned before because of the moral values of many of those in the film industry and most of those of the Ninth Circuit court, naturally, it’s a greasy steep up hill battle. Good fortune to you.

  16. Just have to say am really missing VidAngel on Roku…It’s one of the best things to use in today’s entertainment world and really hope you guys win!

  17. As much as the Ninth Circuit is composed of idiots little removed from left coast types, and although they routinely and blindly discard “Law” for typical leftist touchy-feely activism, I fear the Hollywood power brokers would have the Court in their pockets. I can always count on the ninth circuit to do exactly the wrong thing. I wish Vegas would take bets on their rulings. This is not good for us.

    1. Friend, the liberal ideology is overwhelmingly on the side of individual liberties vs monolithic corporations such as Disney, Universal Studios, etc. If this fight turns out pulling in a political ideologogue, it would more than likely be the GOP to side with what these corporations erroneously defending the “rights” of corporations.

  18. Good luck! We need more organizations like you trying to help us have access to clean entertainment. We hope the court system can see your value.

  19. I find the lack of morality here fascinating. The delusion that simply by removing a few moments of footage, or using a more polite word in a place where your mind is fully aware of what was really said. You’ve still exposed yourself to the very same creation.

    the entitlement you feel to modify someone else’s creation without their consent. And then to profit in any way at all from that. It is just wildly disrespectful. It’s theft. It’s vandalism. Just because it paints a friendly delusion, doesn’t change the action.

    If the film wasn’t friendly for your family before you took out a few key words, and perhaps a moment. Then it wont be after.

    1. So if I fast forward past a scene in a movie I rented from Redbox that I don’t like, I’m stealing? Who am I stealing from? I chose to fast-forward past it, Redbox didn’t make me. VidAngel is no different.

      Your logic is flawed because you don’t understand how VidAngel works. The filters that are applied are the ones that the viewer chooses and no filters are used if the viewer doesn’t choose to use them. So, if you wanted to use VidAngel and enjoy the movie with the cursing, nudity, and so forth, you could and VidAngel will not only NOT PREVENT you from doing so, they won’t even write you a nasty letter or call you a name on a blog post.

      Allow me to illustrate a different way. Suppose while in a restaurant, you order salmon with cream sauce and it comes out with capers on it. For the sake of this example, let’s imagine that you love salmon but you detest capers. You are fully within your rights to remove the offending capers and no one will be upset with you or threaten to remove you from the restaurant nor will any pending lawsuit follow upon your return to your residence. In fact, had you known in advance that capers were included, you can even request that the waiter tell the kitchen to hold the capers when you place your order. This is also your right. He will not give you a scathing look and tell you how you are insulting the chef and the fine dining establishment because you refuse to accept the dish as it is made. He will not demand you leave and never come back. He will not get other servers involved to start a group action suit against you. He will do as you request (whether he personally agrees with your choice or not) because you, the end consumer, the entire reason there is a restaurant in existence to begin with, stated that you do not care for capers and they want to keep you satisfied. Furthermore, it would be ridiculous of him or anyone else to insinuate that perhaps you should not order the salmon at all if you don’t like it the way it is prepared when the simple solution of removing the capers will make it enjoyable for you.

      Just as it is the right of the director (or a cook) to insert content of questionable nature into their films (food) and your right as a consumer to enjoy said content, it is also the right of another consumer to fast forward past or mute (or otherwise remove) the same said content if they so choose because of their distaste for it. Just because you don’t agree with their tastes doesn’t make it any less a valid, constitutional right. And nowhere does the Constitution state that yours or the director’s (or cook’s) rights to want said content trump someone else’s right to not want to partake of it.

  20. You know all the companies who hate VidAngel they can make millions many billions of money by making there own filtering movie website but they are so wicked that they will not even do it them self they like there crap in the movies it tells you how wicked they are. And I am filled to the brim. When VidAngel wins I hope all the companies will crap there pants and cry because we are the winners not the LOSERS I pray for you VidAngel you will make a diffrince losing or wining

  21. Until Hollywood decides to hold themselves to higher standards, services like Vidangel are a necessity. There aren’t many movies out now that don’t have an R rating, and even ones that are rated pg still contain offensive language and situations. I have become very disillusioned with Hollywood, and especially Disney. They are no longer “family friendly”.

  22. I am a loyal customer and will be here waiting whenever this ban is lifted.

    Keep up the fight.

    God Bless!

  23. you were up against the ninth circuit judge that there are so liberal why will they care about filtering for Christian people I’m concerned

  24. I’m no lawyer, but there seems to be a substantive typo on page 12 of VidAngel’s reply brief. Can anybody tell me if I’m missing something? The last paragraph on page 11 states:

    “The FMA provides that ‘Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright * * * .'”

    At the end of the first paragraph on page 12 they state what the FMA would have said if it intended the studios’ narrower interpretation:

    “If Congress intended the Studios’ meaning, it would have written: ‘Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright * * * .'”

    As far as I can tell, what the FMA says and what it should have said to imply the studios’ narrower interpretation are identical in the reply brief. I think VidAngel might have intended to include a subsection (e.g. “106(1)”) in passage on page twelve. I’m mainly basing that on footnote 8.

    I’d rather it isn’t a typo, and I just don’t understand the nuances because of my legal ignorance, because that would be really sad to have such a substantive error in one of the main arguments of the reply.

    1. There was also a typo on page 12 of the brief. Specifically, the first full paragraph on page 12 stated “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 * * * .” It should have stated “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(2) * * * .”

      We got that corrected back when we filed the first time (but we mistakenly posted the old version here on the blog). I’ve updated the brief posted here to be the actual one filed with the court.

  25. For all those who are fretting that this case is currently going through a left-leaning district court – I has good news 😃. While the picture in your head of the 9th circuit is the circuit court of hell and that each judge is this demon who reads your mind and automatically opposes what you consider to be just and fair, your drawing isn’t accurate. The liberal ideology has a far longer track record of sticking it to ginormo corporations. I love the concept of vidangel and honestly, the further left-leaning the court, the more likely we’ll see vidangel back in business 😋.

  26. I hear people say that filtering is bad, it is if you can’t control what’s being filtered, so the reverse is also true, even more so. What I really think this fight is about from the big companies, is they don’t want to have to actually think of original content and just be able to continue to get away with using cheap plot devices to sell movies. It’s absolute bull crap.

  27. Quite honestly, I feel Disney, Warner Brothers and others have benefitted from the institution of vidamgel. My family and others have often gone to movies, only to walk out after too much unnecessary language and content. In fact, it has now been years since we have returned to the theater. While the previews titilate enticement to go, it’s no longer worth the effort and expense, only to be dissapointed. At least with vidangel we have been able to watch the movies we wanted to see, but have the right to choose what we feel is acceptable. In no way have we felt deprived of any artistic value and once again been able to view content based upon genre and story lines that are of interest to us. We would not buy any of these videos, but vidangel did and allowed us the freedom to choose. Many of our friends would say, “But didn’t that movie have a lot of language, sex or whatever?” We answered “We used vidangel and you can edit that out.” They then joined vidangel because they too wanted to watch the movies, but would not because ratings, language, etc. Vidangel purchased these movies, that would not have been purchased otherwise, and allowed us, the public, to enjoy many theatrical productions. The film companies deny the public the right to enjoy such films because of our conscience. We, the public, appreciate entertainment. We know performers and companies deserve their dues. It would seem that vidangel is helping more of the public to enjoy the fruitage of such efforts, while paying their dues in purchasing content that would not be viewed (nor purchased) otherwise. Hey, didn’t Duane shoot Greg in the foot? Sounds like Disney and 20th Century. Go figure.

  28. The final brief posted in the blog post is the opening brief as it says on the title page, rather than the reply brief. Is the body of it different? It’s still the same page length.

  29. If the movie were printed media such as a book I could Sharpie out objectionable material without question. I could also pay someone else to do that for me. I could then keep it, hand it down to my children, loan it to a friend, even resell it. If I or my Post-It service provider simply temporarily covered it with say those little sticky notes I could leave it that way forever or remove and either way, have complete use and control of my private property. As it should be…

    And the only part we originally demanded as citizens was the editing services!
    Intelligent media producers would have TEAMED UP with VidAngel and sold more!

  30. Really hoping VidAngel wins. My family and I stopped watching movies years ago because of the filth. We were just starting to enjoy them again through VidAngel then the shutdown happened. It’s so unfair. Keep fighting!

  31. I really don’t get the whole problem. VidAngel allowed my family to watch movies we otherwise would not watch. It does NO HARM to any movie producer, it only increases their reach. I wanted my young kids to watch the funny Christmas movie “Christmas Vacation” so we all sat down, and I opened up my VidAngel app, and no go, it was already shut-down. Boo. No, we didn’t say “oh well, let’s watch it anyway” in fact, we own the DVD already, but I was prepared to pay again to get VidAngel’s version. It’s crazy. Oh well. people are stupid some times. I hope VidAngel wins, but the 9th circuit is short on common sense.

  32. I caught the last 10 minutes or so of the hearing. Interesting stuff!

    A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish

    [1] that he is likely to succeed on the merits,
    [2] that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,
    [3] that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and
    [4] that an injunction is in the public interest.

    Winter v. NRDC, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008).

    It appears that the studios were focused mostly on prong #3 (“equities,” or basic fairness), whereas your attorney, Mr. Stris, focused more on prong #2 (whether the studios will “suffer irreparable harm”). I’m not sure how much the other two prongs (succeeding on the merits and whether an injunction is “in the public interest”) were addressed.

    I have reviewed the appellate briefs, and I found VidAngel’s brief to be quite compelling, particularly as to A) the application of the FMA to VidAngel’s business model, B) the lack of “irreparable” harm to the studios, C) reminding the court of the studios’ efforts to kill VCRs and their efforts against ClearPlay, D) comparing the studios’ fight against VidAngel with their previous fight against RedBox (which the studios lost), and E) clearly laying out VidAngel’s business model (which, IMO, complies with the FMA).

    I am an attorney, and I have argued preliminary injunction issues many dozens of times. But those cases A) were mostly in Utah, not California, B) were mostly in state court, not federal court, and C) pertain mostly to real property foreclosures, not copyright law. So I won’t venture to guess as to how this will turn out. However, I think VidAngel has a very strong case. Kudos for duking it out with the studios!

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