Wednesday night, a Los Angeles Federal Judge ruled that VidAngel is liable for copyright infringement for having used a disc-based model during 2015-16. The court also refused to modify what we believe is an unconstitutionally broad injunction that is keeping VidAngel from streaming Disney (Fox) and Warner Bros. content using our new system, which means we still cannot filter many titles on modern devices.
We find the Court’s rulings, and the implications of those rulings troubling. Despite these setbacks, we plan to appeal. The trial is currently scheduled for June 11th, where a jury will decide damages (more detail in the questions listed below).
We pray that where a door has closed, a window will open. Meanwhile we offer all the great non-Disney content like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony, Universal, Paramount, Lionsgate and many more when you connect your VidAngel account to your Netflix or Amazon account.
Where We Go From Here
Despite the setback in the courts, VidAngel continues forward with its successful business.
We thank the millions who have and continue to use and support VidAngel, who have more recently enjoyed watching or listening to Dry Bar Comedy, and those who have now backed our original TV series called The Chosen. We will continue to improve the ways in which we try to help you make entertainment good for your home for decades to come.
It’s your home. We are your guest. And we remain committed to earning your trust.
Co-founder and CEO
Why Did We Create VidAngel?
We created VidAngel to help you make entertainment good for your home. As parents ourselves, we needed better home-friendly media options for our own families.
How Did We Get Here?
Since 2013, we have tried multiple methods to skip and mute content (Chromecast, YouTube, Google Play licensing, DVDs and Blu-rays, asking the studios and now by connecting to Netflix or Amazon Prime), and later making content ourselves based on what we learned from you (Dry Bar Comedy and The Chosen).
In July 2015, when we developed a new technology, we wrote the studios asking both for feedback and for them to partner with us; they said nothing. We launched our fourth attempt at a service (after the previous three hit insurmountable studio roadblocks) and over a million Americans signed up. According to UCLA professor Doug Litchman, VidAngel users skipped everything from the “f-word” (26,425,075 times) to the Lord’s name in vain (25,856,107 times) to violence (12,080,274 times) and nudity (5,009,513 times).
Roughly a year after we had asked them to partner with us, Disney finally responded… by suing us in federal court, alongside Fox (whom Disney later acquired) and Warner Bros.
What Other Details Are There About The Case?
The Ninth circuit said ours is a case of “first impression,” which means this issue had never been reviewed or decided by a court.
We were grateful for the incredible outpouring of support when we were sued. Dozens of prominent faith leaders, Members of Congress, and tens of thousands of families families showed up to help. We even had tens of thousands donate to fund the litigation, letting the courts and our elected representatives know where they stand.
Late 2016, Disney succeeded in getting the fourth, disc-based VidAngel system shut down in court. So we built yet another system to connect to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming providers.
How Do Damages Get Decided?
A trial is scheduled for June 11th where a jury will decide whether VidAngel’s copyright infringement was innocent, ordinary, or willful, which could result in the following damages:
- Innocent Infringement: Roughly $200 per title
- Ordinary Infringement: Between $750 and $30k per title
- Willful Infringement: Between $30k and $150k damages per title
Finally the jury will also decide the damages for DMCA violations, for which Disney may be awarded between $200 and $2,500 per title.
Disney and others are claiming infringement of approximately 800 titles. Inexplicably, Disney is also asking that we be found to have infringed willfully—which means they claim that we intentionally broke the law. We say we did so innocently, believing that the law protects our service. As has been the case since the lawsuit began, we disagree with Disney.
We are grateful that in the United States of America, we don’t handle disputes like these with fists or guns, but in courts of law, and before a jury of every day people who live and work just like us.
How Does Chapter 11 Fit In?
We filed for Chapter 11 protection in Utah to get a temporary reprieve from expensive litigation, allow us to develop our business, and ultimately make the studios whole if we ended up being wrong on the law. After the jury decides damages, a Utah judge will decide our schedule for paying it off. It is wonderful that our country offers Chapter 11 to give companies like Delta, Marvel, and VidAngel a second chance.
What Are You Doing In Congress?
Last year, former Representative Mia Love (UT-04) and the entire Utah delegation introduced H.R. 6816 in Congress to help American families watch filtered content on modern devices. Now that she is no longer serving in Congress, we hope to find someone like Mia Love to pick up the baton to get such a law passed in this Congress.