All posts by Jeffrey Harmon

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.

BREAKING: ClearPlay Streaming Has Secretly Been Shut Down Since September

When a Federal judge decided to temporarily shut down VidAngel in December, he accepted the argument that ClearPlay still offered customers a viable filtering option. He said,

“[T]he evidence in the record shows that another filtering service, ClearPlay, offers filtering to Google Play users who access authorized streams from Google Play’s licensed service. An injunction in this case would not prevent VidAngel or any other company from providing a filtering service similar to ClearPlay’s, and thus wouldn’t negatively impact the public interest in watching filtered content in private.”

In making that finding, the court refused to credit VidAngel’s argument that the studios’  terms of service that Google must accept to stream motion pictures prohibit Google from allowing any applications to “modify the audio or visual components of any… content.”  As VidAngel’s expert witness had advised the court, ClearPlay relied on just such an application.

VidAngel has now learned that before Disney’s lawyers blithely assured the court that the Family Movie Act protected services such as ClearPlay’s and assured the court that VidAngel could offer such a service if it wanted, ClearPlay’s ability to filter new content had already been terminated.  Google implemented technical measures in September 2016 to prevent ClearPlay from filtering any new content.  Given that Google was enthusiastic about working with VidAngel to make filtered content available to families before they asserted their terms and conditions in 2014, it appears that the studios have now meted out equal treatment to ClearPlay.

That the cessation of ClearPlay’s filtering in September 2016 escaped notice until February 2017 highlights that customers never viewed ClearPlay’s service as good or convenient.   It also raises questions concerning whether Disney will notify the court that it misrepresented a key fact the court relied on in granting Disney’s requested injunction.

VidAngel learned what had happened only after a customer brought to its attention that ClearPlay had ceased adding new movies.

Gary

[redacted email]

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Clearplay’s streaming service isn’t functioning for any new movies. I called them today and they told me that Google changed “the code” (they had no additional details they could share) back in September, which is prohibiting their ability to stream movies. They have no idea when it will be fixed. The call ended with them trying to sell me a Blu-Ray player (what is that?) and asking me to try and find a red box. A red what?

Anyway, that one option pointed to by Disney isn’t even working now, and it hasn’t for months.

Disney Claims ClearPlay Is The Legal Streaming Option – This Is What They Won’t Tell You 2017/02/03 at 11:10 pm

We checked ClearPlay’s site and verified that no new movie has been added since September 2016. The last available streamed movies were Ghostbusters (published in early September) and Independence Day (published in August). No movies posted then are streaming enabled. That had escaped our notice during trial because older videos were still up and running.
clearplay streaming shut down
clearplay streaming shut down
clearplay streaming secretly shut down
We then took a deep dive into the code and confirmed that Google had shut off its API as to all new movies published to its system. The logical explanation is that Google has now enforced the terms of service the studios imposed on it, preventing ClearPlay from offering a streamed filtering service. (For any curious engineers, we give instructions below for recreating our test.)

The bottom line is that the viewing public is currently left without a streamed filtering option for Hollywood content in spite of a federal law (the FMA) guaranteeing that right to customers. So far, Hollywood has successfully blocked every type of filtered streaming and has sued every company that ever provided filtered content (including ClearPlay).

Please call upon your Congressperson and Senators to clarify the Family Movie Act to make it even clearer that streamed filtering is legal. To find your Congress members’ contact information, and our advice on what to say, please visit SaveFiltering.VidAngel.com

 

 

To recreate the change in the code that has blocked ClearPlay, conduct the following steps:

Steps to recreate working code for older movies.

  1. Rent Independence Day Resurgence here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr1xNdTzS1M
  2. Go to the YouTube Player Demo and enter the YouTube ID: Wr1xNdTzS1M
  3. Click “Update Player with Selected Options”
  4. Try clicking “Play,”  “Pause,” or “Seek” and you’ll find that the controls function.
  5. If you enter 1000 seconds and click “Go,” it will skip. Or click “Mute” to mute.

Note the VIDEO ID below is Wr1xNdTzS1M and the video is loading properly.

image05

Steps to recreate code that no longer works for new releases.

  1. Rent Jack Reacher here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqkN55TzitE
  2. Go to the YouTube Player Demo and enter the YouTube ID: EqkN55TzitE
  3. Click “Update Player with Selected Options.”
  4. Try clicking “Play” or “Pause” and you’ll find the controls DO NOT function.
  5. If you enter 1000 seconds and click “Go,” it will NOT skip.
  6. After some time, you should get the message “An error occurred. Please try again later. Learn more.” (see below)

Note the VIDEO ID below is EqkN55TzitE and the video is NOT loading properly.

image03

You can repeat this process with any title in the ClearPlay library to confirm that ClearPlay has been blocked from filtering movies released after ClearPlay’s streaming was shut down by the Google Play/YouTube code change.

Legal Battle

Disney Claims ClearPlay Is The Legal Streaming Option – This Is What They Won’t Tell You

UPDATE: ClearPlay Streaming Has Secretly Been Shut Down Since September

Disney claims ClearPlay is the legal streaming option. But because of studio restrictions ClearPlay’s service is severely limited (see graph below). What’s more, the studios have admitted they have the power to shut down that service at any time because ClearPlay is violating Google’s terms of service.

How does VidAngel know all this? Because we filtered movies on Google Play before ClearPlay did. The studios shut down our access to Google Chromecast HD streaming and we received a cease-and-desist for violating terms of service.

And this isn’t just antagonism to VidAngel, but to filtering in general. Google Play (which has licenses to stream Hollywood movies) later asked the Studios if they would filter HD movies using VidAngel technology. The studios said no again, this time to Google — one of the biggest companies in the world.

Lionsgate and Sony have also expressed interest in licensing to VidAngel because they realize the filtering market is huge. But they are forbidden to do so by their contracts with the Directors Guild of America.

This IS about filtering. Disney understands that if they can win a fight over decryption or copyright, then they can kill filtering (or render it unusable), allowing them to maintain a veto power over how you watch movies in privacy of your own home.

Fight for filtering by contacting Congress at savefiltering.vidangel.com #SaveFiltering

 

American Sniper took down our servers tonight

504 Error: The demand for American Sniper has overloaded our systems momentarily. We are working to keep our servers up, but it is far more traffic than we have had for any previous New Release and way more than we expected for this weekend while still in Private Beta. Thank you for your patience as we work to keep things running and upgrade the servers for next week. If you are having problems viewing let us know and we can get you a credit so you can watch your movie later.

How to watch filtered HD movies for $2 on VidAngel + Frequently Asked Questions

Friends have been asking a load of questions about how VidAngel sell back works. Everyone who gets it LOVES it because you can save $200 per year compared to the old VidAngel on streaming filtered movies. But it takes a little education to understand.

For us to legally offer filtered movies, you must own the movie while filtering it.  To make this as affordable and user-friendly as possible, we have created an instant “Sell-Back” option to buy the movie back from you and put the credit into your VidAngel account.  No hassle, no fuss, just enjoy your movie, sell it back, and only pay $2.00 for your HD movie.

We made this video that will help you learn how it works in just a minute and a half:

Quick Overview: (using a $20 movie)

  1. BUY THE MOVIE – Pay the retail price of $20. (initial credit card payment)
  2. WATCH FOR $2.00 – $2.00 (per day for HD movies) is deducted from the $20 credit.  $1.00 per day for SD or Television shows.
  3. SELL THE MOVIE – When finished, “Sell it Back” for $18.00 of instant credit to your VidAngel account for your next purchase.

When you’re ready for the next movie, the credit already in your VidAngel account will automatically be applied to your purchase. Continue to buy and sell movies with account credit and pay only $2.00 per HD movie.  If you always buy and sellback within 24 hours, then all future credit card transactions will be the $2.00 watch price.

Other Frequently Asked Questions: 

What if I want to keep my movie? 
Here’s how it works for HD:
Sell back the movie within 24 hours it’s $2, up to 48 hours is $4
up to 72 hours is $6, etc

Until you reach the purchase price.  At which point you own the movie.  Once you own it, it will always be in your VidAngel vault to enjoy whenever you would like.   If you decide you have kept your purchased movie long enough and don’t want to watch it anymore – you also have the option to sell it back in exchange for a Free Movie Night.

Can I ever use all my credit? 
Absolutely. You can keep buying and selling movies or Television episodes.   Also, if you decide to keep a movie, it will use up your credit. However, if you always sell back for credit, then you will always have more credit to use next time.

Why can’t I just rent movies? 
It is not legal for VidAngel to rent movies to you.

Does my Credit ever expire? 
NO – Your credit never expires.  You can take as long as you like to spend it, or binge watch your favorite TV show and use it all in one weekend.

Why don’t you automatically refund my credit card?
Great Question!  We have worked hard to find the best and most cost-effective option for our customers to follow the legal law of owning their movie while filtering it.   Most of our customers watch a new movie every weekend.   The refund process from our credit card company takes 7-10 days.  Meaning, you could be spending even more than ever because you would have your original purchase pending a refund, and then a new charge for the next movie.  We don’t want you double charged and waiting for refunds.  The refund method was simply not a practical option for 99% of our customers.   Not to mention if we refunded every single transaction we ever received, our credit card company would eventually drop our account – and if that happened you couldn’t enjoy your fantastic filtered movies.

Can I ever turn my credits back into cash?
Of course! If you decide you have finished using VidAngel you can cash-out your remaining credits. It takes 7-10 business days to receive the funds back to your card, so you don’t want to choose this unless you know you’re done watching movies with VidAngel.    (Any taxes, gifted credit, or promotional credit are not eligible for cash-out)

If you still have questions, or want to the Long Version that includes “How To” instructions, here you go:

Super Thorough step by step guide with instructions: 

  1. Find the movie you would like to watch and select it.
  2. Click “Buy Now” and choose to store the DVD or Blu-ray in your VidAngel Vault and continue.
  3. Select your HD or SD option and enter your credit card information.
  4. Voila! You can now enjoy your movie!
  5. Once you’re finished, you can quickly sell your movie back, and we will instantly apply your movie credit to your VidAngel account.
  6. For your convenience, there are four different ways to do this:
    1. The easiest option, is to check the Auto-Sellback box when you purchase your movie.  It will sell it back as soon as your movie ends, and you don’t even need to lift a finger.
    2. At any time during the movie you have a sell back icon in the top left corner of your movie screen.
    3. Once your movie ends – A sell-back box pops up on your screen reminding you to sell back.
    4. At any time, you can select the title in your “My Movies” dashboard to sell it back or confirm a sell-back if you are unsure:  http://www.vidangel.com/myvids/
    5. Lastly, should you forget to sell back a movie, you will receive sell-back reminder emails from us that contain a link to sell back your purchase.
  7. Once you have sold your movie back, you will see your VidAngel credit in your account.
  8. This credit will automatically apply to your next purchase, so no need to worry about forgetting to use it.
  9. You can view all your transactions in My Purchases: http://www.vidangel.com/myvids/

We know this explanation might be a bit long winded, but we want to be sure to answer every single question you have, so you are 100% comfortable using our service.

Thank you for using VidAngel!

VidAngel Now Works In HD On Chromecast and Apple TV! Here Is How It Works.

FINALLY! One year after launching VidAngel we now have crystal clear HD movies on Chromecast and Apple TV. It is called Angel HD. Roku and Amazon Fire TV are coming soon!

How To Use VidAngel On Chromecast

credit: the verge

How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV

Note: Angel HD is currently in BETA. If you don't have access yet, just be patient. You will get an invite in the coming weeks.

 

How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV With iPhone or iPad

Also See: How To Use VidAngel On Chromecast


LATEST: The VidAngel App is now available for tvOS and it does not require you to use AirPlay. Enjoy!
UPDATE: The VidAngel App is now in the App Store.  Once you purchase your movie from www.vidangel.com, then use the App to play the movie to your AppleTV.

STEP 1 – Select an Angel HD Movie

After you have setup your Apple TV , make sure you select an Angel HD title. YouTube titles will not play in HD or on Apple TV.

Angel HD titles are not YouTube titles

Note: Angel HD is currently in BETA. If you don't have access yet, just be patient. You will get an invite in the coming weeks.

STEP 2 – Setup Your Filters

Nothing new here. Just make sure you customize your experience just the way you want it.

STEP 3 – Turn On Airplay From Your iPhone or iPad

ON IPHONE: swipe up from the bottom of the phone and then select AirPlay.  Then select Apple TV and select Done.

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swipe up from the bottom and select AirPlay

 

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select Apple TV

ON IPAD: iPad is easier. Simply begin playing your movie and you will see the Apple TV icon in the bottom right corner of the video. Select the Apple TV icon and then scroll and select Apple TV. It will immediately begin playing your movie.

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Unlike on iPhone, on the iPad you can Start Playing Your Movie before turning on AirPlay/Apple TV

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After playing the movie, click on the AirPlay/Apple TV icon

 

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select Apple TV and the screen will go black when the TV starts showing your movie.

STEP 4 – iPhone ONLY. Press Play On Your Movie

ON IPHONE: Now for the easy part. Just click play on the movie and wait for it to load on your TV. You can now control your TV from your iPhone.

play your movie

play your movie

your screen will go dark and turn into a remote for your TV.

your screen will go dark and turn into a remote for your TV.

 

 

Also See: How To Use VidAngel On Chromecast

How To Use VidAngel On Your Chromecast

 Also See: Beta iOS app that works with Chromecast, VidAngel app on Google Play for Android, and How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV

STEP 1 – Install the Chrome

Install the Chrome browser, and then setup your Chromecast on your computer

STEP 2 – Setup Your Filters

Nothing new here. Just make sure you customize your experience just the way you want it.

STEP 3 – Click The Google Cast Button

There is a new Google Cast button in the bottom right corner of the screen. It sits just to the left of the Volume button.  If you don’t see this button, make sure you have installed Chromecast on your computer. Click here to learn how to install Chromecast.

Google Cast Button

STEP 4 – Select Your Chromecast

After clicking the Google Cast button you will see a box pop down in the top right corner of your browser. Select your Chromecast and your movie will automatically show up on your TV.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 11.11.58 PM

 

STEP 5 – Use Your Laptop As A Remote Control

You can now enjoy your movie and completely control your movie from your laptop! Enjoy the show.

 Also See: How To Use VidAngel On Apple TV

YouTube Refuses To Unblock VidAngel’s Videos From “Safety Mode”

UPDATE: YouTube unblocks two videos from “Safety Mode”; Paintball video still blocked

We have spent the last 3 days reaching out to every contact we have at YouTube, trying to find someone who can reverse the damage trolls did to our video by flagging and blocking all of our videos for anyone with “safety mode” on.

After 36 hrs and a severely damaged viral campaign. Today we got back this apathetic response:

Hi guys,

I apologize for the delay in getting back in touch. I ran this past various teams at YouTube and their feedback was the following: Content containing mild violence, sexual or other provocative content may not show up when using Safety Mode.

Unfortunately that’s about all they’re able to provide — they also shared this link with me in case it helps to have more context on safety mode.

I apologize I’m not able to help more on this issue but appreciate your patience.

Thank you,
Sara

The irony is that ALL but one of our VidAngel videos are blocked in “safety mode”, not just the viral one we released with G/PG paintball marker mild “violence”.

There is no option for appeal. Another rep (who is on our side and trying to help without luck) said that YouTube doesn’t even have a department for this kind of problem.

This response is coming to a team which has signed off on millions upon millions in YouTube advertising spend over the past 4 years (Orabrush, Orapup, PooPourri, Endorse Liberty Super PAC…). In the past I’ve always been impressed with YouTube’s willingness to help on this kind of stuff, but this time I am getting nothing but apathy.

If you are concerned and want to help, you can voice your concern to Google here on this forum.

WATCH: How VidAngel works for movies.

A lot of people ask us if we have to go through each VidAngel movie ourselves to edit them.  The answer is no. VidAngel filters are crowd-sourced.  We have over 3000 trained taggers who go through movies and YouTube videos tagging them for content.

We also have a “no taking one for the team” rule. Everyone who tags VidAngel videos is required to agree to never tag any content they would not already watch if they were not doing it for VidAngel. There are plenty of people in the world who will watch all movies, leave the tagging of content you don’t feel comfortable watching to others.