All posts by Neal Harmon

Contact your Congressional Representative #SaveFiltering

We lost this round of the legal battle, which means the movies will need to remain down for at least the next couple of months.

 

The good news is that several members of Congress have already reached out, asking how to help save filtering! In fact, the very same team that got the Family Movie Act of 2005 passed is leading VidAngel’s efforts in Washington, DC.

 

Now is your chance to help! If VidAngel has improved the life of your family, please reach out to your senators and congressperson to make your voice heard.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Go to SaveFiltering.VidAngel.com and enter your ZIP Code to find the contact info for your Senators and Congressperson.

Then, reach out in one of the following ways:

  1. Most effective: Visit their office. You can drop off a letter if you have time.
  2. Very effective: Give them a quick phone call.
  3. Effective: Post to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
  4. Least Effective: Emailing (often ends up in spam folders).

In your messages, please address the following:

  1. Describe how important streamed filtering has been to you and your family.
  2. Emphasize that hollywood should not have veto right when it comes to how you watch movies in your own home.
  3. Finally, ask congress to amend the Family Movie Act to make it even clearer that streamed filtering IS legal.

 

Remember, a small company got the Family Movie Act passed in 2005. Today, over 1 million Americans are watching VidAngel, and you have given us over $10 million.

 

We can win this.

 

Help save filtering by reaching out to representatives and sharing this video with friends. We are just getting started. Thank you so much for your support.

 

All the best,
VidAngel
#SaveFiltering

What’s Next for VidAngel?

Hi VidAngel customers,

 

As you may have heard, a federal judge asked us to take down our movies. But don’t panic yet! Here’s what happens next.

 

  1. We’re asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of the preliminary injunction. If we are successful, the movies will likely be back up within 2 weeks.
  2. We’re also appealing the preliminary injunction to the 9th Circuit. If that’s successful, the movies will likely be back up in a matter of months.
  3. If neither of those efforts is successful, remember that we have $10 million in the bank to continue this fight all the way to the Supreme Court. We are very optimistic that we will win the legal battle!

 

Here’s how you can help:

 

  1. Watch and share the video below about why we believe VidAngel is legal.
  2. Go to savefiltering.com to sign the petition.
  3. Keep checking in until our movies are back up (and in the meantime add your favorite titles to your watch list).

 

 

Thanks so much for your support.

Love,
VidAngel

 

 

FAQs:

 

Why Can’t I Watch VidAngel Movies Right Now?

All movies are currently unavailable while we comply with the judge’s preliminary injunction. However, we are asking a higher court for permission to put all movies back up until the merits of the preliminary injunction are decided. If we are successful, we hope to have the movies back up by approximately January 12th.

In the meantime, you can continue to add your favorite titles to your watch list, so they will be ready for you once they return to our site. And although you can’t currently watch VidAngel movies, you can still read the filter listings for specific movies to make informed choices in your movie-watching.

 

Can I still watch movies with VidAngel?

We hope to have our first 3 VidAngel exclusives The Last Descent, The Abolitionists, and Life on Bitcoin up and running very soon. Over the next few months, we will continue to add new titles. Keep an eye out for updates.

We are also asking a higher court for permission to put all movies back up until the merits of the preliminary injunction are decided. If we are successful, we hope to have the movies back up by approximately January 12th.

 

What does this mean for my credits?  Will they be refunded?  

VidAngel credits never expire. Here’s what you can do with them:

  1. Wait until our movies are back. We’re asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of the preliminary injunction. If we are successful, the movies will likely be back up within 2 weeks. Please stay tuned. And remember your credits are not at risk. We have $10 million in the bank from our recent investment round, so we can refund you at any time.
  2. Watch exclusive VidAngel content. Even though VidAngel is temporarily unable to offer movies, you will soon be able to view our VidAngel Exclusive content. Our first 3 titles – The Last Descent, The Abolitionists, and Life on Bitcoin – will be available very soon. In the next few months we will have an ever-growing list of titles available. You will be able to rent (not buy!) those titles using your credits.
  3. Cash out your credits. If you would like your credits refunded immediately, we’ll be disappointed but will make it happen. We hope, though, that you will choose option 1 or 2, and continue to stand with us to show the courts and Congress how very important our filtering service is to you.

 

How can I help?

Currently the best ways to support VidAngel are:

  1. Sign the #SaveFiltering petition at www.SaveFiltering.com
  2. Share our “Is VidAngel Legal?” video with your friends to help get our message out. (Video found in blog post above.)
  3. Watch the movies that will very soon be offered exclusively on our site (and generously tip the creators so VidAngel can bring in more titles!)

 

What does the preliminary injunction do?

To implement the preliminary injunction, VidAngel has to take down the movies while the court decides whether our service is lawful. We will not know the court’s decision until we have gone through trial and the entire appeal process.  We are also asking the many, many studios that chose not to sue us to permit us to continue to filter and stream their movies for the duration of the appellate process.

 

What percent of the current VidAngel movie library is affected by the lawsuit? Which studios are involved?

53% of titles are owned by the plaintiffs (Disney, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, and Lucasfilm). However, if we are unsuccessful in getting a stay of the injunction, we will not offer titles from ANY studios until the court has ruled that we have a legal right to do so. We expect to receive an answer by approximately January 12th.

Because the vast majority of studios have not challenged VidAngel’s service, we are reaching out to them to ask whether they would object if we make their titles available while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether the issuance of injunction was proper.

 

I currently own several movies from VidAngel. Am I able to continue to watch them with the filters I want?

The good news is that you still own your movie. The bad news is that we can’t currently stream it to you, but we are asking a higher court for permission to do so through the appeals process. We expect to receive an answer by approximately January 12th.

In the meantime, you may request that any disc you own be shipped to you (a processing fee of $5 per disc applies to this service). Or you may wait until content filtering becomes available again as the result of a stay of the decision on our appeal. Please note that because we are not allowed to make copies of filtered content, discs sent to you will be unaltered and thus unfiltered.

 

What is the status of the antitrust counter suit against the studios?

The judge heard arguments on the counterclaims Monday, Dec 19th, and said he hoped to issue a ruling within 7 days, but we have not yet received any ruling.

 

Have you started a petition to save filtering?

No, but a family from Florida started a petition at http://savefiltering.com. It has already received over 100,000 signatures.

 

Has Netflix been approached about licensing/including filtering?

Yes. Their agreements with the studios do not allow them to permit content to be filtered.

 

If the lawsuit results in the ability to license streaming how much would watching a filtered movie cost?

In that case, the studios would set the price at which they sell the licenses.  We hope to negotiate agreements that will allow us to offer filtered streaming prices comparable to those charged to watch unfiltered movies.

 

Can you sell/license your filtering function to the other companies who already have streaming services/agreements?

We attempted to do that but the studios’ license agreements prohibit distributors from allowing it. The major studios have never consented to allow anyone to stream filtered content.

 

Will it be possible to market the filter software to allow everyone to edit their own movies?

Our goal is to build a system that will enable you to create your own tags for filtering your movies.

 

Please explain how ClearPlay has been able to provide filtered content through Google Play? Is it doing something different from what VidAngel attempted to do in its early days?

VidAngel’s approach in 2013-14 was similar to ClearPlay’s current approach to streaming. VidAngel filtered Google Play content that customers could watch using the Chromecast streaming device.  As we prepared our filtering technology for launch, our Chromecast app was shut down and YouTube sent a cease-and-desist letter saying the service violated YouTube’s terms of use. VidAngel believes the terms-of-use agreement can also be invoked to end ClearPlay’s current service model, meaning that the studios can shut down ClearPlay at any time.

In contrast to VidAngel’s filtering method, the ClearPlay method is not able to filter high-definition (HD) content. It does not have apps for Roku, Apple TV, FireTV, Android, or iOS, and is unavailable for a large selection of movies. Additionally, the ClearPlay method does not permit the filtering of closed captioning, even though offering closed caption is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. VidAngel believes that it is close to achieving the filtering of closed captioning using its present technology.

VidAngel was founded to stream filtered HD content to families to watch popular movies on any device of their choosing. No other service is currently able to do that.

 

If the current business model gets shut down by the courts, could you follow a modified method without the VidAngel Sellback model?

Under the current injunction language, selling DVDs and Blu-rays and streaming them filtered (even without sellback) would still not be possible. The studios would like the court to hold that movies cannot be filtered without their permission, with or without sell-back and with or without streaming. The studios have never given anyone permission to filter movies for private, in-home viewing. They will not consent to allow VidAngel to filter content unless the appellate courts agree that our service is lawful or they decide to compromise in the face of our antitrust counterclaim.

 

Why doesn’t VidAngel try to settle out of court and obtain the licensing to stream and edit the movies?

We have repeatedly asked all the studios for licensing agreements. Although we believe our current business model is lawful under the Family Movie Act, obtaining licenses to stream filtered content would provide significant benefits to our customers by allowing them to avoid “out-of-stock” notices and watch streamed filtered content at the same time as streamed unfiltered content becomes available. Having such a license would make life easier for us, too.

All but a few small studios turned us down. Of all the studios, 4 chose to sue us. Some of the studios that chose not to join in the lawsuit have told us that they would be happy to negotiate a license to allow us to stream filtered content if they could do so. However, they are prevented from doing so by their current contracts. We hope the litigation will make that collaboration possible.

 

Will you ever offer subtitles for those of us who are hard of hearing?

Absolutely!  Subtitles are already in development.

 

If VidAngel loses the battle to protect its current business model, does VidAngel have a business model that will allow it operate successfully?

Our intention/goal is to defeat the lawsuit. December 12th’s ruling was the first battle in a long war we believe we will win. We hope that content produced by VidAngel Studios and filtering content that has lost copyright protection will enable us to operate a successful, albeit smaller, business.

 

Aside from the goal of stopping VidAngel from streaming movies, what’s the end-game for the Studios?

The studios are very motivated to keep directors happy, and historically directors do not like filtering. We believe the 4 studios suing VidAngel are trying to appease the directors and will likely continue to do so unless and until VidAngel’s rights are validated by the courts or by Congress.

 

If the lawsuit goes all the way to the Supreme Court, what is a realistic time-table for that process?

It will likely be a 3-5 year process to defend our service under the Family Movie Act all the way to the Supreme Court.

 

Would you ever consider licensing more independent and or foreign films?

Yes. Please submit your film to VidAngel Studios for review.

 

What kind of content will VidAngel Studios produce in regards to quality and type (shorts, TV series, movies), and will this content be released theatrically or streamed from VidAngel’s website exclusively?

Initially we will offer stand-up comedy, behind-the-scenes views of the lawsuit, and licensed content from independent filmmakers.  Those projects can be completed using our current resources without harming our legal defense.

 

Network television edits movies (or at least they used to); wouldn’t VidAngel fall under the same rights?

Those edited movies shown on television receive director sign off and, along with the filtered movies shown on airplanes, are expressly allowed by the collective bargaining agreement all the major studios have signed with the Directors Guild of America.  VidAngel’s filtering is different because the studios and the DGA do not permit filtered movies to be watched by families at home. That’s the key difference.

 

Will VidAngel be sharing my personal information with any of the Hollywood studios who are involved in the lawsuit?

No. VidAngel will not be sharing any personally identifying customer information with anybody. The current lawsuit only involves VidAngel as a company. There is no contention that VidAngel customers have done anything wrong.