BIG NEWS: End of “Disney v VidAngel” Lawsuit

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Friends of VidAngel,

 

We emerged from bankruptcy today after settling a 4+ year lawsuit with Disney and Warner Bros. 

While we are thrilled for what’s ahead, we need a moment to unplug, recharge, and take care of some important updates behind the scenes (so Netflix and Amazon content will be offline for a bit but will be returning hour by hour for the new few days).

 

The past four years have felt like a marathon, and a water break is long overdue. We will be back soon ready to hit the ground running.

No need to fret though. All of our original content is still accessible, you can check out some of our new up-and-coming projects, and potentially partner with the creators of said projects. We have learned a lot over the years, and have grown in more ways than one. We would love your feedback!

BACKGROUND

Thank you for supporting a few Idaho brothers as we’ve pursued a shared dream over the past seven years. You are part of a story that matters.

 

Shortly after the founding of America, John Quincy Adams truthfully quipped, “Whoever tells the best story wins.”

 

In the early 1900s, a small group of filmmakers, frustrated at the oppressive restrictions imposed by the then movie cartel, fled West and started making movies in Hollywood, California. They were sued and pushed out of the mainstream movie business.

 

The creators voted with their feet and left New Jersey for California.

 

They then made a hundred years of movies that helped the world navigate the great depression, two world wars, the civil rights movement, and more. Hollywood not only captured our hearts and imaginations, it shaped how we saw ourselves and what we consider right and wrong. It has become the #1 export of the world’s largest economy. We are grateful for much of what those pioneers created.

 

Most people don’t even know the movie business ever resided in New Jersey because Hollywood won in telling the best story. They locked down production, distribution, and copyright so you had to come through their door to reach the audience. But the best story to the Hollywood elite and best story to normal people, in their homes, slowly drifted apart. 

 

One hundred years later, a family of Idaho farm boys protested what Hollywood has become by making a video about the decline of values in content published by Hollywood and launching a new service, VidAngel. 

 

 

 

Those like us thought to solve the problem with a bandaid: skipping the offensive Hollywood bits in our homes. As a community, we used CleanFlicks and a dozen other companies who were sued out of existence. 

 

We brothers started VidAngel to solve the problem for streaming, believing we could attract an audience who wanted better stories for their homes. We tried every way we could conceive to pay Hollywood: Chromecast, YouTube, Google Play, DVDs, Streaming, and DVR. 

 

We were shut down, pulled, rejected, sued, treated like pirates, and even opposed in bankruptcy. What was our crime in trying to figure out how to pay Hollywood while giving the individual homes the ability to skip stuff they found offensive?

 

When we lost the lawsuit in Los Angeles, we even tried to pay off the entire judgment with interest. “Not so fast,” said the studios. They didn’t want to be paid. They wanted control. 

 

The studios know, like Adams, that: “Whoever tells the best story wins.” And they want complete control of how their story is told. 

 

Faced with continuing the legal battle to the supreme court or settling with the studios, we recently held a vote with the 8,000 homes who invested in VidAngel, and in a landslide we investors decided it’s time to tell a better story. 

 

We are done trying to make money for studios who abhor that we’re doing it. Those who mock us for doing it. Those who sue us for doing it. Talk about a lose-lose proposition.

 

Instead, we, meaning you and I, are going to tell the best story. And as we do, we win.

 

Case in point, since the launch of The Chosen last November, season 1 has over 8 million app downloads in more than 180 countries and 50 languages. With 55 million views and counting, it’s a phenomenal success and by season seven, we believe we’ll reach over a billion people with its message. 

 

 

For its audience (19,000 of whom funded season one), The Chosen is the best story. There are many more best stories to be told for countless communities who are underserved by the Hollywood elite.

 

We believe these principles, which we’ve followed to make The Chosen, will continue to produce the best stories for their audiences over time:

 

  1. Audiences choose the best story. The crowd will pick winners more often than the elites in Hollywood. The audience is far more important than the executive producer. If the crowd funds the story, it should be made.
  2. You should interact with the creators. When the creators have a direct connection with the audience, they will tell the best stories for their audience.
  3. Feedback loops > Rules based systems. MPAA ratings and Disney mandated standards are yesterday’s system of accountability. Data from skips (applied by individual homes) give the creators the information they need to make the best stories.  

 

We know, like Adams, that “Whoever tells the best story wins.”

 

A little imagination went a long way for Roy and Walt’s little company, Disney Brothers (later Disney). How far can it go for over 8,000 homes backing a few farm boys from Idaho and the creators of the future? 

Be part of a story that matters:

 

  1. Back stories you want made by investing.
  2. Support creators you want to see more from by paying it forward.

 

And may the best stories win!

 

Sincerely,

Neal and Jeffrey Harmon

VidAngel Co-founders

 

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23 thoughts on “BIG NEWS: End of “Disney v VidAngel” Lawsuit

  1. Any idea when The Haunting of Hill House will be available again? I have two episodes left, and I’m dying to find out what’s in that Red Room!

  2. I don’t understand. So vidangel will no longer carry anything except original content? What does “tell the best story” mean?

    1. Tyler, it means we’re going to make better stories for our audience than those studios who are rejecting us. We are still providing content from most studios (who did not sue us).

  3. So just to be clear, the old filtering service will never be available again and nothing like it will happen (i.e filtering Disney+)?

  4. Offering of money does not create consent. In the case of the studios you tried to give them money — but you never achieved consent to use their exclusive rights. So, you went ahead and illegally took those rights. If a boy came to my door and offered money to my daughter to go on a date — the offering of that money does not produce consent, in fact it has the opposite affect.

    1. I understand your point which is valid if there weren’t exemptions to the exclusive rights of copyright. However, the Family Movie Act was passed in 2005 because the studios would never give consent. It’s an inconvenient exemption to some, but vital to families. We just interpreted the Family Movie Act differently than a Los Angeles judge. Here’s what the judge said after trial: https://blog.vidangel.com/2019/06/27/dear-haters-i-could-be-wrong/

  5. Thanks for the video message. I’m glad the lawsuit is settled. We have benefitted from VidAngel filtering for years, thanks for all your hard work!

    To be crystal clear, here’s what I got from the video message (with about a 75% confidence level): VidAngel filtering will continue as it was – filtering new movies and TV shows that come out, except for Disney/Warner Brothers movies. At the same time you’ll be producing more original content. Did I understand correctly?

      1. Neal, to clarify, you are not filtering anything owned by Disney or Warner Brothers or their subsidiaries, correct? So out of the content that was removed from the platform when the studios sued you, none of it is coming back?

        1. Correct, we’re not filtering Disney or Warner Bros on our system. However, never say never. We can get it back on our system if they give us permission (no sign of them doing that to date). It would be easy to get Disney to give permission if we grew big enough that we bought Disney 🙂

          Let’s think big here.

          Thanks for your support Tom

  6. I’ve followed almost every word of this legal saga. I was even quoted in one of the court filings supporting your case. I was hoping for a win, but once I dug into the technical and legal details (and saw the venue the suit was being argued in), I was more realistic about the potential outcome.

    I also understand the desire (or need) to create original content. But while quality original content is great, it’s not the same as being able to see a Hollywood blockbuster [clean version] with my family. I think you recognize that.

    To be clear, I and my family really enjoyed watching The Chosen. *And* we enjoy a lot of Hollywood movies and shows (with some of the garbage filtered out).

    Your blog post sounds like you’re slowly, carefully raising the white flag and giving up on skipping/filtering. It sounds like, “don’t look over there, look over here — we’re now making such great original content instead!” And hoping that nobody notices.

    Please stay true to the original mission of VidAngel. Please continue to work on skipping/filtering for Hollywood movies, in addition to original content. I want to see both. It’s not either/or. And right now, VidAngel is the only viable option for skipping/filtering.

    I truly hope that you (or some other spinoff company/organization?) will be able to someday (soon?) provide a method to skip/filter garbage from any Hollywood movie, even the ones from Disney.

    It is a phenomenal service, and there’s obviously a demand for it. Everything after that is technology and agreements. I and my family really hope you can figure that part out. Because we don’t want to see it fade away with the closing credits. Thank you.

  7. Glad the lawsuit is over. If I’m being honest, not having Disney or Warner Brothers doesn’t really bother my family or me, but the lack of anything else. It seems that movie updates become slower and slower and when new movies appear, they’re undesirables. Is there any timeline we can expect to see more/better movies? Thanks

  8. Is there any reason why movies such as “
    The Amazing Spider-Man“ which is available on my STARZ prime account won’t allow me to play without spending rent/purchase prices? This has been a recurring issue at times. Is there any reason why it’s not syncing? Thanks

  9. Is there any reason why movies such as “
    The Amazing Spider-Man“ which is available on my STARZ prime account won’t allow me to play without spending rent/purchase prices? This has been a recurring issue at times. Is there any reason why it’s not syncing? It’s a bit annoying that We pay extra for STARZ prime and Vidangel doesn’t always show the STARZ option even though our streaming accounts are synced. Any input is appreciate, thanks

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