Amazon and Netflix both fully operational

VidAngel Customers,

We’re pleased to announce that Netflix is again working properly.

In addition, all of the following outstanding issues have been resolved:

  1. Descriptive messages when a video won’t play (like you’ve reached your screen limit, etc).
  2. Netflix PIN for Parental Controls
  3. Netflix auto-select non-child profile
  4. App interface for confirmation codes for Amazon.
  5. Amazon PIN for Parental Controls
  6. Amazon 2-Factor Authentication

Hooray, now you don’t have to turn off parental controls on Netflix or Amazon to use VidAngel!

Existing free trials that started before 6am MST on July 5, 2017 will be extended until the morning of August 5, 2017.

Now, that the system is humming smoothly, the next thirty days will be 100 percent focused on publishing a ton of new content.

Happy filtering,

Neal Harmon, CEO

VidAngel

 

VidAngel is not affiliated with or sponsored by Amazon, HBO or Netflix. Amazon, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Instant Video are registered trademarks of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Netflix is a registered trademark of Netflix, Inc. HBO is a registered trademark of Home Box Office, Inc

Update on Free Trial Extension

VidAngel Customers,

We’re pleased that Amazon is working again (we’ve implemented the proper security features for your Amazon account).

We regret to inform you that now we have a technical glitch with Netflix streams. This is frustrating because your account connects to Netflix, but VidAngel is unable to fetch your stream for filtering at the moment. We have a fix in the works. Again, we need to ensure that Netflix’s systems know that you’re real people wanting to filter just as we need to on Amazon. This is something we learn to do better and better as more of you use the system.

The good news is that we’re continuing the free trial extension until the service is working for you. And you’re able to enjoy VidAngel Originals and filtering on your Amazon Prime, Amazon Rentals and HBO accounts in the meantime for free.

Best regards,

Neal Harmon, CEO

VidAngel

 

VidAngel is not affiliated with or sponsored by Amazon, HBO or Netflix. Amazon, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Instant Video are registered trademarks of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Netflix is a registered trademark of Netflix, Inc. HBO is a registered trademark of Home Box Office, Inc

Update on Amazon and HBO

VidAngel Customers,

We promised you an update today on the situation with the Amazon connector (which also impacted Amazon Channels HBO). We’re pleased that we just published the following updates to the website, iOS, Android and Roku beta:

  1. App interface for confirmation codes for Amazon.
  2. Two factor authentication support for Amazon.
  3. A series of backend and app fixes.

Please update your iOS, Android or Roku apps to have the latest code and fix for Amazon. These updates should solve the vast majority of problems customers have experienced. If you have connected before, please disconnect and reconnect to implement the improvements.

Issues still outstanding (we’re working on these)

  1. Descriptive messages when a video won’t play (like you’ve reached your screen limit, or you need to disable parental controls, etc).
  2. Netflix PIN
  3. Netflix Profile support
  4. Captcha support

The buttons still say down for maintenance but will soon be switched to a message that says: “Having issues? See Help Section.” Even though the buttons currently say “down for maintenance”, you can click on them and try connecting. Let us know at support@vidangel.com or in the comments below if you run into an issue.

If the weekend is smooth and things work for people, we will update the buttons again so that it’s clear the system is operational.

Thanks again for your support and patience.

Neal Harmon, CEO

VidAngel

 

P.S. A few people have had trouble with the Amazon connector for Game of Thrones and other programs. We have learned that the fix is disconnecting your Amazon account and reconnecting. That clears out your old session and establishes a new improved session and fixes the issue.

ALL free trials will be extended and start again when major bug fixed

VidAngel Customers,

We need to apologize for a very rocky launch. We messed up and you all deserve better.

First, our Amazon connector is temporarily down for maintenance, but once we get it back up and running, we’ll be sure to extend your free trials to begin again when Amazon starts working. In the meantime, enjoy Netflix, Dry Bar Comedy, and VidAngel Studios licensed shows for free.

What Happened With Amazon?

We’ve been testing our service for months and things were running smoothly so we thought we were ready to launch.

Then this happened:

We never dreamed we’d have more interest than before we were shut down.  We should have had more faith in our fans and prepared for more traffic, but we didn’t. These traffic numbers have made this week a nightmare for all of you and our entire team. We have had the executives, marketing, finance, content and everyone helping the support team. Our tech team members are working around the clock. Everyone is exhausted. Our customers who were wanting to watch a movie worry free this weekend, now feel frustrated.  Understandably so because we are just as frustrated.  We wanted you to have a great weekend and thought we had everything ready.  

Amazon Wants To Know You Are A Human

Amazon wants your account to be very secure and so does VidAngel. Here’s what is happening (and the fix is very straight forward):

  1. You give your Amazon credentials to VidAngel and the VidAngel servers become you in the cloud to help you filter your Amazon account (your credentials are encrypted and stored on your device only, not VidAngel’s servers, for security reasons).
  2. When Amazon received so many requests to filter in a short period of time, its systems began asking for verification that you are really you.
  3. The VidAngel app does not yet have a feature built in to let you make the handshake between you, a real person, and Amazon’s extra verification. We didn’t realize how many different verifications Amazon has until we had thousands of you hitting Amazon at the same time.
  4. This extra step causes you frustration, so you try again and repeat the cycle which makes the problem worse for everyone because Amazon asks for more verification each time you cannot prove you are you.

This is a good thing. It means Amazon wants your account to be secure so they can ensure it is really you accessing your account.

How VidAngel Will Help You Stay Secure

VidAngel wants your Amazon account to be very secure as well. VidAngel is working on a technology to show you the verification messages from Amazon so that you can let Amazon know that you are a real person within the VidAngel app.

We hope to have a fix for this by next weekend. We’re putting everything we have into it.

Please accept our heartfelt apology fans; we’ll make it right (remember we’ll extend the free trial and you can enjoy everything else VidAngel offers for free in the meantime).

Neal Harmon, CEO

VidAngel

 

VidAngel is not affiliated with or sponsored by Amazon, HBO or Netflix. Amazon, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Instant Video are registered trademarks of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Netflix is a registered trademark of Netflix, Inc. HBO is a registered trademark of Home Box Office, Inc

CALL TO CONGRESS: Ignore Misleading and False Representations Made by the ACU on Behalf of Big Hollywood. Instead, Stand with Parents and Families, Your True Constituents

On June 8, 2017, the American Conservative Union published a blog post calling on Congress to support Hollywood over parents and families, falsely attacking VidAngel in the process. That blog post can be found here: http://conservative.org/call-to-congress-ignore-demands-to-update-the-family-movie-act/

Years ago, former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. While the American Conservative Union is certainly free to advocate for the interests of Hollywood studios, it is not free to change the facts. The ACU’s blog is replete with falsehoods and misleading information. We’re addressing each item in this blog post.

First False ACU Claim: We do not write in opposition to “filtering,” as explained in more detail below. In fact, we support the efforts of lawful filtering services to give families more options that comport with their values. Rather, we urge more careful scrutiny of the claims of those calling for such an update, concerned that what we see here is really a case of wolves in sheep’s clothing, advocating to undermine important principles of property rights and free markets under the banner of protecting family friendly “filtering” services.

Response: The ACU is using the oft-repeated Disney argument in this case, claiming that it supports filtering while doing everything it can to undermine and eliminate services offering filtering.

Second False Claim: For more than a decade since the enactment of the Family Movie Act, there have been no disputes or litigation over the operation of filtering services that enable individuals to use technology to automate the skipping and muting of content they consider offensive in the home. Companies like ClearPlay have offered filtering services for use in connection with legally acquired DVDs and BluRays, as well as with licensed streaming content. TVGuardian provides a “foul language filter” for television programming received over the air or through cable and satellite services. Ufilter is a more recent entrant into the market, claiming to do the same for streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. All of these services exist in a market enabled by the Family Movie Act, and we are not aware that any have called for Congress to intervene further in this market.

Response: The filtering industry nearly died because every company but one was shut down, the sole survivor being ClearPlay. But it is slowly dying as consumer habits move away from discs to streaming services and modern devices such as iPad, Roku, Apple TV and others (86 percent of VidAngel users watch on devices ClearPlay is unable to support). TVGuardian is also on life-support as interest in its technology shrinks and it struggles to stay relevant. Hollywood has not fought these technologies because they have no future.

VidAngel, on the other hand, delivers a filtering experience that Americans actually want to use (see Google Trends chart comparing VidAngel and ClearPlay below). Contrary to the ACU’s inaccurate claim, every VidAngel customer who watched a filtered movie had the exclusive right to a specific, lawfully purchased DVD or Blu-ray disc–just like any Redbox customer or customer of any DVD rental service.

Through 2016, the studios had sued every service that ever offered to filter content for family viewing and, even as of today, the studios have never licensed any service to filter motion pictures for family viewing. The services now operating cannot filter high definition content, do not work with modern apps, do not provide a good user experience, and can easily be disabled by the streaming services they ride on.

The studios hope that by limiting the quality and convenience of filtered content, filtering will never be able to compete on a level playing field with unfiltered content. And, given ClearPlay’s inability to filter new releases on Google Play streaming since September of 2016, it is obvious that other unofficial services built on top of streaming providers can also be shut down at any time…

Third False Claim: The sole exception is VidAngel, the filtering-enabled streaming service that was recently shut down by a court, not because of its filtering activities, but because it was copying DVDs and BluRay discs to cloud servers and using those unlicensed copies to stream movies and television shows for $1 in direct competition with licensed streaming services, but without a license from a single copyright owner.

Response: VidAngel has sued the studios for violating the antitrust laws because the studios have colluded to deny streaming licenses to any company that offers filtering. Because the studios have never licensed anyone to filter content for home viewing, Congress crafted the Family Movie Act to protect third parties (such as VidAngel) that filter the content of discs at the specific request of consumers and then stream that filtered content to the consumer for private viewing. Congress recognized that studios could control what they charge for discs and when they release them for sale, and also recognized that because discs are sold to the public, the studios could not prevent filtering based on discs as they could by refusing to issue a license to any filtering service.

Fourth False Claim: It is ironic that a company purporting to champion family values instead operates in violation of the Ten Commandments: Thou Shalt Not Steal. We support a vibrant marketplace for technologies that allow families to control the content that comes into their homes. What we do not support are efforts to mask clearly unlawful activities beneath the family friendly banner of “filtering.” VidAngel and its surrogates claim the need to update the Family Movie Act to accommodate filtering in connection with streaming services and to counter a “war on filtering.” But as much as they want to make their dispute about filtering, they appear to be fighting a nonexistent war as a ruse to avoid the real issue of copyright infringement.

Response: Are these same leaders accusing Redbox of stealing? No, but only because the studios entered into licensing agreements with Redbox as the consequence of an antitrust lawsuit Redbox brought against them. VidAngel and Redbox are fundamentally the same. They buy discs and permit customers to watch them over and over again.

VidAngel has spent millions of dollars to purchase, not steal, content. It lawfully bought thousands of DVDs of the motion pictures it offered and re-sold them to its customers. Anyone who pays for a DVD sold lawfully is allowed to watch it. But the studios say that VidAngel customers must pay twice to watch a movie once: they must not only pay for the disc but must also pay for a stream (notwithstanding that the studios do not permit filtered content to be streamed).

What’s more, for many business reasons associated with its disc-based model, VidAngel is, and has always been, more than happy to pay for a streaming license, but the studios refuse to sell a streaming license that permits filtering.

Fifth False Claim: We would expect copyright owners to bring infringement claims against any company doing what VidAngel does, regardless of whether the infringer also offers filtering. The Family Movie Act already allows filtering in connection with licensed streaming services, and plaintiffs in the VidAngel litigation repeatedly state that they do not object to lawful filtering services. That is why ClearPlay—VidAngel’s leading competitor in the filtering market—is not the subject of litigation. ClearPlay has been in the market for filtering in connection with streaming services for years and has indicated plans to roll out additional new services this year, as is its right.

Response: Disney and others have created a catch-22 scenario. They say that VidAngel must purchase a streaming license but they refuse to sell one that permits filtering. They will not even sell filtered streaming licenses to large distributors, such as Google. ClearPlay created a technical hack that allowed it to work with Google Play but its hack was shut down for new titles by Google in September 2016 because Google has signed contracts with the studios that prohibit it from allowing filtering.

That service, to date, has not returned.

ClearPlay for streaming is a bolt-on service that can be shut down at any time. Read the Family Movie Act. It says nothing whatever about “licensed streaming services.” It says that authorized “copies” may be filtered and Section 101 of the Copyright Act defines “copies” as tangible objects. And ClearPlay was sued by the studios for selling a DVD player that enabled filtering in the home. The Register of Copyrights testified to Congress in 2003 that ClearPlay’s in-home filtering was lawful under existing law. Because ClearPlay was sued anyway, Congress reacted by passing the Family Movie Act. Only then did the studios give up their lawsuit against ClearPlay.

Sixth False Claim: It is also telling that ClearPlay has not joined with VidAngel in calling for changes to the law, instead telling the court in the VidAngel litigation that “[t]he cause of filtering is not helped by VidAngel’s unlawful behavior, especially coupled with incessant undermining statements towards those that are lawfully and legally filtering content.” Congress anticipated just this kind of mischief and drafted the law to nip it in the bud. As the authors of the Family Movie Act explained, “an infringing transmission of a performance to a household [is] not rendered non-infringing … by virtue of the fact that limited portions of [the motion picture] are made imperceptible during such performance or transmission,” and “the Act does not provide any exemption from the anti-circumvention provisions of section 1201 of title 17.”

Response: It is most telling that the former CEO of ClearPlay, Bill Aho, who helped get the Family Movie Act passed in 2005, has formed ProtectFamilyRights.org to seek a solution for filtering for the streaming age. He has recognized that his the benefits of the Family Movie Act will end as technology leaves discs behind and has therefore dedicated time and energy to seeking a solution with Congress.

The reason for ClearPlay’s involvement is obvious – ClearPlay and VidAngel have been litigating a patent dispute for three years, during which time VidAngel has become far more successful than ClearPlay. ClearPlay’s motive for siding with the studios against its more successful competitor is transparent.

The claim that “the Act does not provide any exemption” from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) begs the question: Is any exemption required? The answer is “no” for several reasons.

First, the DMCA distinguishes between “access control” and “use control” provisions. The studios contend only that VidAngel violates an “access control” provision. Such provisions control who is or is not allowed to access the content of a DVD. Anyone who acquires an authorized DVD is allowed to access its content. The studios’ complaint concerns VidAngel’s use of the content, but such use is not prohibited by the DMCA.

Second, to treat the access control provision as a use control provision would prevent many fair uses of copyrighted materials. That’s why the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed suit last year seeking to have that provision of the DMCA declared unconstitutional. That suit is pending in the Washington, D.C. district court.

Third, it is a core principle of statutory construction that an older law (the DMCA) should be read in a manner that harmonizes it with a more recent statute (the FMA). The FMA was intended to end all litigation involving filtering by affording flexibility in using various technologies to accomplish its purposes.

Fourth, as the DMCA had been interpreted by the courts when the FMA was enacted in 2005, damages were a necessary element of any DMCA claim. Because the studios would be paid for their content when they sold DVDs, they could not have alleged damage and therefore could not have alleged a DMCA violation. The DMCA violation the studios allege against VidAngel is based on a 9th Circuit case decided years after the FMA became law.

Seventh False Claim: We see no reason to upset this balance, which recognizes the importance of copyright and contracts in supporting a robust market for video streaming. Nor do we see any reason for the kind of incursion into the market being urged by VidAngel, which seeks to regulate the terms of video distribution agreements and impose technology mandates on internet streaming services. These proposals are both a solution in search of a problem and fundamentally inconsistent with conservative values.

Response: VidAngel wants not just a robust market for video streaming but a robust market for filtered video streaming. It therefore seeks to prohibit the studios from requiring authorized streaming services to prevent filtering. VidAngel does not seek to impose any technology mandate on streaming services (or anyone else). For about nine months during 2016-2017, no service was able to filter any new filtered motion picture content owing to studios’ use of contractual bans on filtering. The studios say they support filtering, but they expect filtering services to play a cat-and-mouse game to avoid being blocked by the authorized streaming providers they ride on while trying to attract customers with technology necessarily inferior to the technology available to streaming services that do not filter. They can be put out of business at any time (as has now happened multiple times with both VidAngel and ClearPlay).

Eighth False Claim: VidAngel should not be allowed to wrap itself in saints’ garb, cloaking its behavior in the mantle of family values while undermining the core conservative principle of property rights and free-market principles that support a vibrant creative economy. While we, too, find some movies and TV shows inappropriate for families, the solution lies in innovative products and services legally deployed in the marketplace—not congressional mandates which undermine core Constitutional rights and interfere with existing, well-functioning markets.

Response: The studios should not be able to hide behind what they term “core conservative principles” when they have fought free market principles for decades. They fought the Sony Betamax (the precursor to the VCR and greatest boom in wealth in home-video history); the Redbox video rental service by trying to cut off supply; every filtering company that increased the studios’ sales; and now VidAngel.

What the studios want is a “market” where they alone determine how, where, when and who streams every motion picture.

Fundamentally, they want complete control, but their history has shown repeatedly that they fight legal markets that benefit them. And speaking of fundamental conservative principles, the Constitution states that copyright law exists to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” The Constitution makes clear that copyright law should benefit the copyright holder, in order to benefit the public.

Yet the studios want copyright law to benefit them without any consideration of public benefit. By continually opposing filtering, the studios are pursuing their own agendum while harming the millions of American families who are forced to watch objectionable content or not watch at all. As proven in the record before the Court, filtering increases the reach of artistic expression to larger audiences while providing the studios millions in sales. It inarguably promotes the “Progress of Science and useful Arts.”

Excluding the filtering audience through limitations placed on devices, platforms, contracts, or other means, contorts the law away from its original intent. VidAngel does not seek any Congressional mandate; merely a clarification that the FMA allows competitors in a free market to offer innovative products and services–such as high quality, individually filtered, content delivered to any modern device a consumer wants to use to watch it.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT – June 13th

Neal Harmon, CEO of VidAngel

 

Shortly after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on June 8th, Neal Harmon, CEO of VidAngel, will give updates on the proceedings, answer questions, and share important announcements.

 

Join us as we LIVE STREAM the event on our Facebook page. facebook.com/VidAngel. (6/13/17 at 7:00 PM MDT).

 

You can watch the proceedings from the June 8th hearing with this link. http://bit.ly/2r6rEla Start at time – 1:04:00.

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Hearing

June 8th, 2017, in Pasadena, CA, we were back in court at the United States Court of Appeals – 9th Circuit. You can watch the proceedings with this link, starting at time – 1:04:00. http://bit.ly/2r6rEla

We most likely will not receive results from the hearing for at least a few months.

On Tuesday night, June 13th, at 7:00 PM (MDT) Peter Stris will discuss the hearing at VidAngel Studios.

Join us as we LIVE STREAM the event with 7-time Supreme Court Advocate and VidAngel Appellate Lawyer, Peter Stris, and VidAngel CEO, Neal Harmon, on our Facebook page. facebook.com/VidAngel (6/13/17 at 7:00 PM MDT).

VidAngel Buys Disney

Update: April Fools!

 

Struggling film studio The Walt Disney Company announced plans to be acquired by media juggernaut VidAngel Inc. after weeks of closed-door negotiations. Disney, whose quirky indie properties “Star Wars” and “Marvel Cinematic Universe” failed to expand beyond their cult followings, threw in the towel after years of poor financial performance.

 

“Sometimes you have to know when to quit,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a prepared statement, noting that the company’s recent expansion into theme parks had proved even more calamitous than its work in film.

 

The deal comes as no surprise to analysts, who long anticipated Disney’s inability to compete with streaming behemoth VidAngel.

 

Indeed, Disney filed suit last year, claiming that its financial prospects would be “irreparably harmed” by the much-larger VidAngel. Similar arguments were made by Disney’s co-plaintiffs, the struggling family-run studio Warner Bros., and low-budget independent studio Twentieth Century Fox, whose financial woes have prevented it from updating its name for the 21st century.

 

The lawsuit proved to be too little, too late for the cash-strapped Disney, thanks in large part to its bungling of the fast-growing online filtering market.

 

“We thought we understood filtering customers,” Iger told reporters Saturday. “We argued in court that they wanted a filtering option that can’t add new movies, doesn’t offer HD or 4K, and can’t work on Apple TV, FireTV, Roku, Chromecast, Playstation, Xbox, smart TVs, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Showtime, or iTunes.”

 

“It turns out they wanted to filter movies,” added Iger. “You live and you learn.”

 

Prior to accepting VidAngel’s acquisition offer, Disney’s dire financial straits had forced the studio to begin making movies using only a computer, resulting in such box office duds as Zootopia, Inside Out, and Frozen, Disney’s greatest failure to date.

 

A Disney representative declined to comment on the selling price of the company, though sources close to the deal report a price tag easily north of $1,000.

 

Cinderella Castle
In retrospect, Iger conceded that building a full-scale castle had been “wildly impractical.”

 

Guardian Angel Action Update – Edition #3

 

Good day Supporters,

It’s time for another update for VidAngel friends and allies.

 

Legal Update

 

This week, the 9th Circuit Court scheduled the oral argument on our appeal of the injunction for the morning of June 8, 2017, in Pasadena, CA. You can read both sides’ arguments here on our blog.

 

Legislative Movement

 

The former CEO of ClearPlay, Bill Aho, who spearheaded passage of the Family Movie Act in 2005, has started a coalition to seek legislative protection to ensure the future of the filtering industry. It’s called the Protect Family Rights Coalition and VidAngel is a member. Bill is respected by Congress and all who work with him.  We are grateful to have his perspective on the industry and approach to solving problems.

 

Grassroots Activity

 

People all over America are joining the cause every day.  A great family in Florida has started a group called #SaveFiltering. They have now surpassed 170,000 signatures and are even collecting donations to fuel the cause. VidAngel has started a new page at SaveFiltering.VidAngel.com to let our supporters know of organizations like these and the many other ways they can help.  

 

VidAngel Studios

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 5.20.42 PMWe’re happy to announce the release of our very first eight comedy specials. These are available for free (for a very limited time so enjoy them this weekend) on the VidAngel app and website. We hope you enjoy these comedy specials and dozens more that will be published very soon (we will have taped 50 specials for season one by April 29th).

 
This is not an official launch of VidAngel content. We’re giving you an exclusive early look at our new content so you can provide feedback concerning any potential issues with our first titles. You’re welcome to share the specials with friends now, but we will not promote them until we’re sure that everything works properly.

 
We are publishing The Last Descent, a VidAngel Exclusive Movie. In addition, our first theatrical release, Tim Timmerman, has been the highest rated film to come out of Utah and opened #2 in Utah behind Logan. It is opening in Arizona April 7, 2017 and will be expanding to other locations soon.

 
We hope you enjoy this great content while we fight for your filtering rights in court and in Congress.

 

 

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.

 

 

Are you changing your 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.

 

In 2013, when we began work on VidAngel, our plan was to create the best filtering service in the world, attract a large audience of like-minded people, and then build a new family-friendly streaming platform. We knew that people who chose to filter would seek family-friendly content, and that eventually we would become large enough to create some of that content.

 

That day has arrived, and we are so excited for what the future will bring, including new content and filtering.

 

Paul Ahlstrom, one of our VidAngel board members, said it best: “VidAngel is making good popular.”

Onward and upward,
Neal Harmon, CEO