Disney v VidAngel Trial – Verdict

The final verdict is:

Willfully infringed? Yes

Copyright Award: $75,000 per work

819 * $75,000 = $61,425,000

DMCA Award: $1,250

819 * $1,250 = $1,023,750

We find today’s ruling unfortunate, but it has not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families. VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursing options on that front as well.

 

52 thoughts on “Disney v VidAngel Trial – Verdict

  1. It won’t protect them from owing money. If the judge decides they have a decent chance of paying it back, he will setup payments over time.

    That is the way I understand it.

    Hope they can appeal to Supreme Court!

    1. $62 million payback on payment plan. I doubt very much VidAngel even makes this kind money. Also I thought I read their Chapter 11 filing is based on their new streaming model not the disc based model this $62 million dollar judgement is based on. Either way a slap and a kick to VidAngel and it’s supporters.

    2. I would love a favorable ruling at the supreme court, but the copyright precedent thus far isn’t very helpful to their case. These exact facts haven’t yet played out in a supreme court copyright decision, but similar cases in which the defending party uses technical “work-arounds” with the effect of redistributing have been tried, and the supreme court tends to find the defendant liable for infringement. The only interesting part of this case to me was the mention of “secret anti-competitive agreements” between directors and the studios. That hasn’t been brought up in a while. There must have not been any teeth to it.

  2. This is a dark day for the American people. They have ceded rights of viewership to the directors’ guild and large studios.

  3. Wow, talk about corruption at its finest. I don’t see how it’s remotely logically that the jury could find VidAngel guilty of willful infringement. I really hope that VidAngel keeps up the fight because there’s no way they can pay a 62 million dollar fine and stay in business.

    1. Exactly. How could it be willful. VidAngel knocked on Disney’s door told them their plans and Disney said nothing… waited for VidAngel to gain some traaction and then sued. I believe VidAngel did what they thought was legal. They hired counsel for advice from what I understand before they went down the road. This is a very sad day for people that care about filtering.

      1. VidAngel did write Disney, but its how they streamed and filtered/altered it that got them in hot water. The original Youtube extension similar to ClearPlays current form on AMazon i though was legal but youtube/google shut it down (that was a cool one cus it allowed customers to assist on filtering), the whole DVD rip format obviously fishy not to mention renting out new release films for $1/24 hrs while it was great didnt help their case either. Im more concerned with their current format, it seems like the more legal one but also still has that cut paste feel since its still running on their system using their features. no restart on movies a basic feature, u cant skip Recaps when they pop-up on screen and probably most important for hard of hearing no CC which is basic on all stream services if it was truly linking services all of this should be included, but since its more cut and paste they have to do it all their selves. at least thats how it looks for me.

  4. I hope VidAngel can find a way to survive this. I love this service and I can’t stand the thought of Disney and Hollywood thinking they can just shove whatever they want down my throat and make me like it.

  5. Keep fighting the good fight. I’m sure you’re feeling tired and discouraged. Just do your best and know that people are rooting for you.

  6. If they continue on after this, Vidangel just needs to use a browser plugin to filter like ClearPlay, that way, there no issues with streaming licenses, etc. Vidangel actually start out using a browser plugin, and if they would have stayed with it, they would have been fine. It wasn’t the filtering that was the issue, but the unauthorized streaming and copying…

    1. I use the Clearplay browser plugin as well and they have been very smart through this whole thing. I used their DVD players for years and loved the service. The browser plugin was a great idea but you have to run movies off your laptop and HDMI into a TV or use apple play to mirror your screen. It’s pretty amazing technology.

      VidAngel deserves huge props for really taking the idea of streaming to the world. They weren’t the first but they made a huge impact and them going to fight this in court is going to have an impact.

      They won’t kill streaming. VidAngel has done it the best and there will be others to fill any vacuum. The one thing that VidAngel is right about, in my opinion, is that the protections for filtering streaming content should be updated.

      1. I used Clearplay’s Bluray player for years but got tired of it skipping way too much and freezing for every filter. While their streaming was better tagged not nearly as good as Vidangel on allot of fronts: Mirroring losses quality and i found running HDMI cord on my laptop with their filters was still choppy some. i gave up on Clearplay they were at the forefront of filtering sad that after 20+ years they still are an insect compared to VidAngel even with all the legal battles VidAngel is going through. Im curious about 1 thing whats the “819” in regards to?

      2. The VUDU thing with ClearPlay was encouraging until I tried to use it ten days ago and I realized they had 22 titles for 6 months and I ran into all kinds of problems trying to get it to work. They announced a few more titles the day after our verdict. Great timing.

        I hope you’re right Steve and ClearPlay makes it but I’m not holding my breath.

  7. I just heard about this service because of the news and didn’t know about it. Seems like the most useful product/service – exactly what I was looking for. Hope you can continue to offer this service.

    May the Force be with you Neal Harmon and team to fight this terrible decision. What you are offering is like cold water in hell – is a great worthy cause. Hats off to you for doing it!!!

    Have you considered raising mass support thru’ a Kickstarter or similar campaign ? Have you considered a signing petition drive to elected reps to remind them of their moral responsibility to clean content that seems to be getting worse by the day. Have you considered raising some venture capital or social media campaigns to fight these big labels? Surely, there should be lots of good people who would be thirsting for this kind of service.

    1. Hi Rob, welcome to VidAngel… really the only option to filter on modern devices. yep cold water in He** says it all. Also VidAngel let’s you choose to the detail what to filter nothing else does this.
      VidAngel did raise over $10 million to fight this thing. I think we need another one or if someone really rich can offer up $62 million. 🙂
      Also a bill was introduced by Mia Love but it never made it through before the deadline.

  8. I am disaffected with Disney. They have changed from what Walt originally advocated. I have started making conscious decisions regarding the studios I’ll support. The outcome from the Ninth Circuit doesn’t surprise me. Take a look at their record for verdicts that have been overturned by higher courts.

  9. It’s really too bad the two issues are conflated. The issue about VidAngel setting up a streaming service from ripped DVDs that they ‘sold’ to us and then ‘bought’ back was never going to fly. That argument I would also find against VidAngel if I were on the jury. They shouldn’t have done that.

    What should be a separate question is the right to be able to have a filter on a movie or tv show. I’m concerned that question will get tied up with the streaming dvd issue when they should be two separate ones.

    If VidAngel goes out of business, perhaps they can spin up a new company with the current filter model technology. That’s what is if real value.

  10. I wish I could read the actual judgement and not the press’s interpretation of it.

    My question is did the major studios oppose presenting their material in an edited form, similar to broadcast television and airplanes, or did they feel they were not getting paid a “reasonable amount” for the movie they made?

    I get that the studios objected to the process by which VidAngel overcame the copy protection in order to provide the service. It is possible that this was their only objection or the only one that the court could grant them remedy for.

    “Reasonable amount” being direct and individual contract negotiations with VidAngel for the movies presented. In other words did they feel that their movies should not have been watched editing out objectionable content or did they feel they were not getting paid enough to allow VidAngel to provide this service?

    1. I’m preparing a letter with all of the information and transcripts for you to review the details yourself. I wish it were as easy as paying them a license fee. Thanks!

  11. I am so sorry to hear about the verdict. I appreciate the freedom you have provided to watch films without the junk. I am cheering for you!

  12. Don’t give up the fight! We’re praying for you, and support you in fighting for our right to filter out the filth hollywood, disney et al force on us. I too have become disaffected and disappointed with disney and others in the industry. I used to immediately buy the cute kids/animated films once they hit DVD, but I don’t anymore. Most aren’t worth watching at all, let alone purchasing. I don’t trust them anymore. I’ve only paid for a movie in the theatre once in the last year, and once the year before. We don’t have television/cable/satellite in our home. Streaming services with parent restrictions and settings only, and Vidangel. I’m trying to send a message via my wallet, but they aren’t listening. I’ll keep fighting on my end, and invite other conscientious people to do the same. May God bless you in your fight, Vidangel team! Best of luck moving forward!

  13. Neal Harmon, I love VidAngel. I used the old platform and have been a subscriber since the beginning of the new version. We use it almost daily and will continue to l.subscribe until it shuts down (which I hope it never does.)
    Is VidAngel able to survive if this verdict stands? I know you have said you intend to fight it, but would they allow you to pay in installments? Is there paths through bankruptcy?

  14. My heart hurts for you. Please stay hopeful, and continue to fight the fight as far as you can take it. We’ll be praying for a win for both you, and for Vidangel! It is a terrific and very needed service!!!

  15. Gosh, this sincerely is ruined my day. I’m so sorry Neal. I disliked every post about the settlement I could find on LinkedIn. Is VidAngel studios, the dry bar, or the new streaming service protected from the settlement? You guys are brilliant, don’t give up. There is a demand for what your doing and don’t cave in. Stay strong.

  16. let me start my recognizing that ignorance to the law is not a defense. So given the courts ruling that infringement occurred an appeal may not change the outcome but it should change the implied damages. 62 million in revenue is a afternoon for Disney. So clearly its more about flexing that a damages award.

    For me the question is, did they really prove that they lost revenue? I do not think so. Currently there are a lot of movies and shows i would not watch without either VidAngel or the federal required editing for TV broadcast. Disney is implying that i would have watched some of their content without filtering. I can personally say this is not the case. Because of VidAngel filtering, restricted content has reached a larger audience.

    I know i am only one voice but any damages that implied i would have purchased or watched their content unfiltered it wrong. Real damages where not from me.

    1. Robert, one more thing, the 9th Circuit said that ours was a case of first impression, which means the law had never been tested. That is not ignorance, it’s a different interpretation that the 9th Circuit did not accept.

      1. interesting read, thank you, I understand better now. It look like they are trying to set a newly defined legal precedent, creating a rule to be used by the court when deciding later cases so called similar issues. I can see their argument but I don’t agree with it or their approach. I am not sure why it has gained so much traction. They have ignored “true intent”. The desired outcome seems more like the act of a bully than justice.

        Quoting them: “This award has to be more than the cost of doing business; otherwise, it will not be deterrent. It will be an invitation for more piracy”

        And it appears they tried to draw a comparison to bootleggers. This sounds like its personal and they are not looking for a solution they are looking to crush anything that can not control.

        I hope that good and decency will prevail in the end.

  17. Keep fighting, Vidangel. Let’s hope the Supreme Court sees the merits in your service.

    I have been a Vidangel customer from the very beginning. Vidangel has obviously bent over backwards to find legal ways to provide us a way to filter out harmful stuff.

    People who feel that barbaric content is harmful should be free to skip it. I want the freedom to choose what I and my family see. “Just don’t watch it then” isn’t a satisfactory reply. Movies and TV shows are not just products; they are a big part of our culture, and we have right to see them the way we want (after we pay for them).

    The studios’ view that you can’t edit their content doesn’t hold water. We had airline versions and TV versions of their movies for years. This clearly shows that you don’t need the R-rated stuff to tell the stories the movies and TV shows are telling. Vidangel is further proof of that. No one would pay for their service if filtering made the content incomprehensible or non-entertaining.

  18. Sadden to here this, praying for hearts to be soften. There are so many movies that I have been able to watch on Netflix with VidAngel I’m grateful for the service and pray that it continues.

  19. Can the other studios still sue based on the old model or is it still too late? Wondering if the judgment may embolden other studios?

  20. I am a potential new subscriber. I’m sure there are others contemplating joining also. I’m a little uncertain how this court outcome should affect my decision to subscribe. Mr. Harmon, is there a place that addresses fears and concerns of potential new subscribers and just what the product will provide for us and what product may be lost by joining VidAngel? Will the service continue for streaming on Netflix? Does this ruling affect companies other than Disney from offering their movies/television shows for streamed editing? Sincerely and God bless.

    1. Great question. The product will provide the same features it has for the past two years. A growing library of original content, the ability to filter Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO on Amazon Channels. We plan to continue to filter non-plaintiff content. We plan to appeal and, in the meantime, this verdict should not impact our subscribers. If there were something that would impact subscribers, we would let people know.

  21. Staying loyal to VidAngel! We need this service and I for one, don’t mind non-plaintiff content. It’s a great opportunity for talent to rise outside of the machine. If you’re on the fence, get off and jump in. The water is very fine indeed.

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