All posts by Neal Harmon

Can I expect VidAngel Studios content to be appropriate for me and my family?

 

I am writing a response to a series of tweets I received from @Papabrose on Twitter. He was disappointed in Tim Timmerman, Hope of America because he felt like there were sections he would filter.  First off, thanks for voicing your concern.

 

Can I expect VidAngel Studios content to be appropriate for me and my family?

 

VidAngel aims to produce family-friendly while encouraging artists to give their best work. However, that does NOT necessarily mean an unfiltered VidAngel Studios movie will meet your family’s unique standards. In fact, I personally plan to set a few filters for my young children when we watch Tim Timmerman together.

 

If I had been the producer from the beginning, aiming to reach my own young family, I would have made the movie with a few changes. But then, all of my family are younger than high school age. Cameron Sawyer, the director, made this movie for a high school audience and older. In fact, Cameron is already adjusting one part of the film based on responses from me and the VidAngel Premiere audience on Wednesday.

 

This is a well-done indie film. Cameron has done a terrific job creating a film with an uplifting message about honesty, integrity, and the harms of exploiting others for political gain. Is the movie “family-friendly” for all audiences? No. So, as with any content, we advise parents to use discretion in deciding whether to view the movie with their families.

 

Audiences Are Responding Well

 

High schoolers love Tim Timmerman and adults feel nostalgic watching it. We’re at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes so far. Cameron did a wonderful job creating a movie to match his audience and we’re excited to back his film.  

 

Exciting Future

 

Next time we do a film, we can work with Cameron and his team from the beginning, and provide more feedback based on our filter data. Future filter data on this film will give Cameron insights into creating his next film. 

The feedback loop is a core advantage of VidAngel Studios content. This is something that all of us will learn to do better over time.

 

In Conclusion

Tim Timmerman is a funny, charming rom-com set in the nostalgic nineties and we’re thrilled to get behind it, but please review the data below before deciding to see it in theaters.

 

Thanks for supporting the premiere and voicing your concern @Papabrose! It gave me a great opportunity to explain how filtering will inform artists future work.

Best,

Neal Harmon

 

Why is this movie PG-13?

We’re surprised the MPAA rated this movie PG-13, and it will likely be one of the cleanest PG-13s you’ve ever seen.
What are the content warnings? Two instances of d*mn. Two instances of b*tch*n. Implied drug use – Tim grabs a joint from a fellow student to prevent him from smoking it. High school counselor has a creepy crush on Tim but he doesn’t seem to know it. Strapless and sleeveless dresses with some cleavage. Suggestive material – two high schoolers passionately make out in a van.

Guardian Angel Action Update – Edition #2

Good Afternoon Supporters,
We’ve got a few hot news items worthy of an update!

Dr James Dobson Lends His Support

We are deeply honored to have the support of the legendary Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and now CEO of Family Talk. I recently spent time with Dr. Dobson in Colorado Springs, and was featured in his national broadcast. The episode is entitled Freedom from Hollywood: The Censorship War with VidAngel. Click here to listen to this broadcast. Please share this with everyone you know…here is our Facebook post with a sharable link!


Legal Update

We have filed our reply brief, our final written response to Disney’s legal arguments, to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It is a very important but easy read. Here’s a brief quote:

“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 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.'”

We believe the 9th Circuit will schedule oral argument on the appeal for sometime in May. We’ll let you know when it’s scheduled.

Enjoy the entire brief here (it is worth the read).

 
Legislative Movement
We are still actively seeking a legislative clarification to the 2005 Family Movie Act, to prevent the studios from continuing to misconstrue in the courts. We have more meetings in DC this coming week with various allies. As soon as we have further news on that front, I will let you know.

 
Grassroots Activity

People all over America are joining the cause every day. A group called #SaveFiltering, started by a Florida family, has now surpassed 160,000 signatures. We’ve also started a new page at SaveFiltering.VidAngel.com to let our supporters know how they can help.
Support VidAngel Studios’ First Theatrical Release

VidAngel Studios presents the award-winning comedy that’s taking film festivals by storm, TIM TIMMERMAN, HOPE OF AMERICA.

There are multiple ways to support our first film:

  1. If you are in Utah March 1st or 2nd, you are invited to attend the EXCLUSIVE premiere of VidAngel Studio’s FIRST ever theatrical release: Tim Timmerman, Hope of America! Let us know so we can get you tickets!
  2. If you are not near Utah, request that Tim Timmerman, Hope of America come to your local theater by clicking here.
  3. If you’d like to book a theater for a screening for your company or organization, please contact timmermanmovie2017@gmail.com
  4. Like Tim Timmerman on Facebook.
  5. Share the trailer on Facebook.

For more information about the premiere, frequently asked questions about the film and to watch the trailer, click here.

Why is VidAngel making its own content?
Your filtering data gives VidAngel deep insights into the type of content you’re looking for. We aim to create family-friendly content based on that feedback.

Is VidAngel changing its mission?
No. Our primary mission is to ensure families everywhere have the choice to filter content as they wish. We do not envision VidAngel Studios’ content replacing all the great Hollywood content available. We envision that it become a model for artists to use filter feedback to better meet the needs of their audience.

Conclusion
As always, would love to hear from you and answer any questions you have. Thanks for your support in this fight!

Sincerely,
Neal Harmon, CEO

Dr. James Dobson Lends His Support

We are deeply honored to have the support of the legendary Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and now CEO of Family Talk. I recently spent time with Dr. Dobson in Colorado Springs, and was featured in his national broadcast. The episode is entitled Freedom from Hollywood: The Censorship War with VidAngel. Please share this with everyone you know…here is our Facebook post with a sharable link!

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Guardian Angel Update – Edition #1

Good Afternoon Supporters,

 
So many neighbors have been hungry for updates on VidAngel’s situation, that I decided you should also receive exclusive updates as though you lived next door to me. Here’s an up-to-date summary:

 
Legal Update
In the District Court, Judge Andre Birotte issued a preliminary injunction against us, which is unprecedented given the delay and lack of evidence of any harm. We immediately appealed the decision (link to opening brief) to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and hope the injunction will be overturned within the next few months. But, we are currently shut down pending the 9th Circuit’s ruling.

VidAngel is counter-suing the same studios for antitrust violation, owing to their collective bargaining agreement with the Directors Guild of America which allows all the Hollywood studios to collude to deny licenses to filtering companies and to prevent any studio from breaking ranks, notwithstanding that the Family Movie Act is the law of the land. That case is still before Los Angeles District Court Judge Andre Birotte, Jr. and the studios have asked for the antitrust counterclaim to be dismissed. Judge Birotte has not yet ruled. For more details, please check out our blog.

 
Legislative Movement
After VidAngel was forced to remove all movies from its site, we were encouraged by the strong interest in helping us expressed by various members of Congress. We are actively seeking a legislative clarification to the 2005 Family Movie Act, to prevent the studios from continuing to misconstrue in the courts. The Family Movie Act was supposed to be the final word, but Hollywood is attempting to nullify it for the streaming era, so we’re asking Congress to secure entertainment filtering for any company that wants to provide it. The ability to watch filtered content is a fundamental right of American families.

 
Grassroots Activity
People all over America are joining the cause every day. A group called #SaveFiltering, started by a Florida family, has surpassed 150,000 signatures. We’ve also started a new page at SaveFiltering.VidAngel.com to let our supporters know how they can help. The Schwartz boys pleaded for VidAngel to come back to music 🙂

On his vacation, the talented Matt Meese (of Studio C fame) did a far more entertaining job than I did in our call to Congress video. Watch Matt in Rome and share his video.

 
Talking Points
From our opening brief to the 9th Circuit Court (see page 13 and the introduction):

“Everything VidAngel does is for the sole purpose of allowing a disc-owner to watch a movie she owns the way she wants in her own home. Yet four Hollywood studios insist the Copyright Act prohibits what common sense demands. The Studios persuaded the court… that tiny start-up VidAngel threatened irreparable harm to the richest entertainment companies on Earth. The district court entered an injunction that forced VidAngel to shut down, leaving millions of American families with no viable filtering option.”

“The injunction should be dissolved. There is no evidence of irreparable harm. And there is no reason to believe the Studios are likely to prevail on the merits of their Copyright Act claims.”

 
How You Can Help
Share our legal brief with skeptics who say that this battle is not about filtering (page 13 and the introduction are especially helpful).

Visit http://savefiltering.vidangel.com to learn how you can help our cause in Washington, DC.

As always, would love to hear from you and answer any questions you have. Thanks for your support in this fight! You are the reason we can win this war.

Sincerely,
Neal Harmon, CEO

Update on Preliminary Injunction

Dear VidAngel customers,

First, the bad news. The judge has issued a preliminary injunction against VidAngel, requiring that we pull down all the studios’ content. We are seeking a stay of this injunction, but if our efforts fail, we will need to take down the movies of all major studios.

Now the good news. This is the first battle in a long war. We will launch an immediate appeal. And unlike previous filtering companies, we have the funds to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court. We’re committed to protecting your right to watch filtered movies in your home.

In the meantime, we will be finding and creating family-friendly shows and movies so you can still watch quality content on VidAngel. This will be a gradual process, so please be patient with us. We will keep you posted as this develops.

Hang in there,
Neal Harmon, CEO of VidAngel

#ThisIsNotOver #SaveFiltering

Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros vs. VidAngel

Fans, customers and supporters,

Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros have filed a complaint against VidAngel in federal court. We wish they would have let us know they had issue with VidAngel back in July 2015 when we wrote them a letter to inform them about VidAngel’s lawful service. However, we’ve hired great Hollywood attorneys. We’re as confident now as we were when we launched that filtering a DVD or Blu-ray you own on your favorite devices is your right. We’re ready. More to come.

Sincerely,

Neal Harmon, CEO

Is VidAngel legal?

Is VidAngel’s service legal?

Yes. VidAngel offers a family-friendly alternative to traditional movie viewing by providing a service expressly authorized by the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005. That law protects your right not to be exposed to “limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture…transmitted to [your] household for private home viewing,” provided the portions screened are chosen by a member of the private household and the content screened is from an authorized copy of the motion picture (see 17 U.S. Code § 110(11) or see excerpt of text in footnote).

Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005

 

Weren’t other companies that edited movies sued and shut down?

Yes, but they were selling edited copies of movies or were deciding what content to screen. VidAngel provides a filtering tool used at your direction. VidAngel doesn’t decide what to edit; you do. Before creating its prototype service, VidAngel got a legal opinion from David Quinto, a movie/film specialist lawyer who represented the Oscars for 27 years and was named a Hollywood Reporter Top 100 Power Lawyer. Based on his recommendations and those of other top Hollywood and Silicon Valley lawyers we consulted, VidAngel designed its model to comply fully with the Intellectual Property and Copyright laws.

 

What will the studios say when they learn what VidAngel is doing?

The studios actually already know what we’re doing. Before launching publicly (during its private beta testing period), VidAngel wrote to 17 motion picture studios, describing its service and business model in detail and asking each whether it had any legal concerns or desired modification of VidAngel’s technology. None of the studios objected or requested any modification to VidAngel’s service, business model or technology. (Update 6/10/16 – they’ve now filed a complaint 11 months later rather than responding to our letters)

 

How do the studios get paid?

Before selling a movie, VidAngel lawfully purchases a DVD or Blu-Ray for every owner on its system (and stores the disc on the owner’s behalf in the VidAngel vault). The studios are compensated by the purchase of these discs.

 

Do third parties agree that VidAngel operates lawfully?

Roku, Google Play, Amazon and Apple reviewed VidAngel’s app for inclusion in their respective app stores. Each initially expressed concerns that VidAngel’s service might somehow violate the copyright laws, but after VidAngel shared its legal opinion and explained its business model, each approved VidAngel’s app for inclusion on their platforms. VidAngel is now live and available in all major app stores. Each app store shares or plans to share revenues with VidAngel.

 

FOOTNOTE EXCERPT OF 17 U.S. Code § 110 – Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays

               Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:

      . . .

(11)  the making imperceptible, by or at the direction of a member of a private household, of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture, during a performance in or transmitted to that household for private home viewing, from an authorized copy of the motion picture, or the creation or provision of a computer program or other technology that enables such making imperceptible and that is designed and marketed to be used, at the direction of a member of a private household, for such making imperceptible, if no fixed copy of the altered version of the motion picture is created by such computer program or other technology.

 

VidAngel Policy: Can I watch VidAngel without filters?

As VidAngel has grown and reached a broader audience, a few new customers have begun asking if they can stream on VidAngel without filters. 

nudity-filter

The short answer is, unfortunately, NO.

The long answer is, VidAngel employs filters in compliance with current copyright law, but we believe in allowing our customers to watch movies however they want. If you want filters, VidAngel is your place to do it. If you want to watch without filters, we recommend one of these unfiltered streaming services:

Google Play Movies

Amazon Instant Video

Vudu

 

(or iTunes, which is not really streaming)

Thanks for using VidAngel!

Neal Harmon, CEO

 

Get FREE movies for LIFE! Help us find a tech team member!

We’re giving away a LIFETIME OF FREE MOVIES* to any VidAngel customer who guides us to an engineer that becomes a full-time member of VidAngel’s team* :

Step #1 – forward this link to your tech friends so they can see the positions available:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/vidangel-growing-jedadiah-ashford

Step #2 – have your friend send their resume to liz@vidangel.com. Ask them to include your VidAngel account email address letting us know you referred them.

Step #3 – after we hire your friend, we’ll add your lifetime* of credit to your account. Don’t worry, your engineer friend gets unlimited free movies by joining our team.

IMG_20150813_154126771

VidAngel company celebration when we met our goal last week (we’re months ahead of plan). We went to the theatre together on paid time 🙂 We won’t admit how many of us teared up watching “Inside Out”

And here’s a fun, true story, in poetry:

Once upon a time, far-far away,

an amazing USAA mobile programmer from Texas,
found a new website that he loved more than breakfast.

This new VidAngel customer named Jed,
watched movies with his family before bed.

Well, he found a little bug,
that he offered to help plug

And became VidAngel’s tech team leader instead 🙂

Meet Jed: He has an infamous list in the company named after him, that pretty much the entire company operates around. He also gets to watch all the movies he wants for FREE.

 

* Lifetime of movies means $10,000 of non-transferable, non-refundable VidAngel account credit (or 100 SD movie nights a year for the next 67 years!).  Joining Team VidAngel means that your referral joins the tech team and stays onboard for at least one year. We’ll give you one year of credit during the referred employee’s trial period.  (credit will be disbursed at $150 per year – no worries, we will send you all the details)