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).
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.