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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46 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!

      1. Neal your next thing needs to be to sell your proprietary license for monthly fee and let users filter out movies. Do the work let us pay you for the filters so we can choose to filter out what we want too. Is this possible?

  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/

      1. The first season of The Chosen was nothing short of miraculous.

        Until a few moments ago, I knew nothing regarding the lawsuit mentioned by this thread or legal issues you have been dealing with.

        Given the global events and prophecy unfolding before our eyes more quickly in 2020 than any time in history, it may well be the Lord is protecting you instead of Satan thwarting your mission.

        I’m blessed and so grateful to live in it itty bitty ole” Owyhee county Personally, I’d high tail it bhome.

  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

      2. Did you ever get an answer from the court as to whether or not you can filter Disney movies using on-the-fly technology via a browser add-on?
        Or did you agree to forfeit that right as part of the settlement?

  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.

    1. There are other services that can legally filter (streaming) Disney movies, such as Enjoy Movies Your Way. They are slower at adding filters, but they have a limited free option.
      I believe ClearPlay can legally filter (streaming) Disney movies too, but I believe they only have a paid option.

      I believe both of these use a Google Chrome add-on that lets you filter movies that you’re watching on the Netflix/Amazon/Disney+ website in order to avoid any legal issues with copying or streaming.

  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

  10. Why does Netflix genre movies require you to rent/pay through Amazon? We pay for Netflix and Prime channels in order to be able to filter through Vidangel, but it only allows users to watch through Amazon Video. Even though the movies are available under Netflix, etc.

  11. Please update your site. There a numerous examples of movies under Genres such as Starz and Prime that are unable to watch without paying the rent/purchase prices or showtime subscriptions. A couple examples are 1) The Grey shows under Starz, but can only be watched with a Showtime account or rent/purchase. 2) Valerian shows under Prime, but you can only rent/purchase from Amazon. Thanks

  12. Oh please. Don’t compare yourself to those who fled to west from the east to make movies. The difference is that they made their own movies, wrote their own scripts and that thief Thomas Edison tried taking ownership of them. You took work that wasn’t yours and decided that you would just try to pay how you wanted without getting contracts, without getting permission to use someone else’s work and then you stole it.

    I really hate that you give our religion a bad name by pretending that you’re righteous. You’re thieves. You were never fleeing people who tried to take ownership of what you created. YOU were the thief trying to take other people’s property and creation. I guess if you weren’t making the money you were off of the practices that your company is founded on, you’d probably finally see the immorality of what you company has done. You’re disgusting. Stop trying to justify your holiness.

    But doesn’t matter, you won’t post anything that tells the truth. You and your background and religion in free-agency will shut down the speech of others so that you can ensure no one hears anything that is contradictory to the speech you want to hear. If you’re as righteous as you claim to be, you’ll show you can handle the criticism of others.

    You may have the term LDS stamped on your temple recommend, but you are far from being honest in your dealings with your fellow man.

    1. Roger, we very much believe in others right to speak (even when we disagree).

      This post and our settlement outlines how we are right before the law.

      Thomas Edison claimed that the original founders of Hollywood were pirates.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlWgmLQouvw
      (they were accused of stealing intellectual property, please check my sources in that video description if you’d like)

      SOURCES:

      The Renegade Roots of Hollywood Studios
      https://www.history.com/news/the-renegade-roots-of-hollywood-studios

      Thomas Edison and the Kinetoscope by Haneiro Perez
      https://filmnewyorkcity.wordpress.com/tag/thomas-edison-and-the-kinetoscope/

      Motion Picture Patents Company
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Patents_Company

      Thomas Edison Drove the Film Industry to California
      http://mentalfloss.com/article/51722/thomas-edison-drove-film-industry-california

      Independent Moving Pictures
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Moving_Pictures

      A hundred years ago, one Hollywood studio was a great, safe place for a woman to work
      http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-sharp-universal-studios-women-20171112-story.html

      United States v. Motion Picture Patents Co.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Motion_Picture_Patents_Co.

      Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Corp._of_America_v._Universal_City_Studios,_Inc.

  13. Hi!

    All you need to do is to build:
    – a software remote controller (for PCs, browsers, etc …)
    – a physical programmable remote controller (for TVs, phones, etc …)
    to emulate all the required button presses at the right time … allowing usage with any service whatsoever … with the feature being listed as an assistive technology to prevent excessive strain from button mashing!

    Good luck!

  14. I appreciate the focus on developing in-house content but it seems to have come at the cost of filtering movies, which is why people sign up. It is rare to find a newly filtered title, and there are more and more movies going direct to video, so the selection should be getting better and better.

    1. We’re working on a change that is accelerating the development of filtering. We’ll announce it shortly. Thanks for your patience.

  15. I really think you need to focus on all the series that you only have say three seasons, and there are 6 or seven on Netflix, etc. We have just been left hanging on several series we have watched, that are available for you to filter, but you just don’t filter these as they become available.

  16. I am an investor during your original stock offering. We invested $3000 because we believed in the original mission of filtering general public movies. I am happy about the original content too. BUT I CANNOT FIND ANYTHING ABOUT THE VALUE OF MY SHARES. How do I find out if they are worth anything or how to sell them. You originally promised that you’d fight to the Supreme Court if they’d hear your case. Did you appeal to the supreme court?

    1. Jeremy, thanks for following up. We held a vote with investors and in a landslide investors voted to compromise with Disney and focus on original content. (we were happy to fight it to the Supreme court if the investors wanted us to)

      We are trying to find a way for the investors who only wanted to be part of filtering to sell their shares.

      The company has grown. The year you invested we did just over $8 million and last year we did over $47 million. Your shares are increasing in value. You can follow the progress of the company by reading our SEC reports: https://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/browse-edgar?company=vidangel&owner=exclude&action=getcompany

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