Hollywood studios aren’t happy with VidAngel, saying in a statement Wednesday that the Utah-based streaming service "continues to illegally stream our content without a license and is expanding its infringement by adding new titles" despite a judge's recent injunction.
VidAngel and the studios have been in a legal battle for most of the year. The studios contend that the streaming service is violating copyright laws by showing studio content without paying for distribution.
Meanwhile, VidAngel says it is acting in accordance with the 2005 Family Movie Act, which allows individuals to edit, pause and mute content they own.
The joint statement from Warner Bros., Disney and Fox said this entire legal battle isn’t about filtering, but about copyright infringement.
“We have brought VidAngel’s indefensible violation of the injunction to the court’s attention," the statement reads. "As the court made clear in its order, VidAngel’s unauthorized acts of ripping, copying and streaming our movies and TV shows infringe copyright and violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. VidAngel's filtering of content has nothing to do with the claims against it and does not excuse its illegal activities.”
The studios also filed a supplemental declaration to the legal case, stating that it’s “flagrant” of VidAngel to defy the court-ordered injunction.
According to the supplemental declaration, VidAngel added movies like “Sully,” “Storks” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” to the service despite the injunction.
“VidAngel’s defiance of the preliminary injunction is flagrant,” the declaration read. “If VidAngel will not comply with the preliminary injunction immediately, plaintiffs will have no option other than to move ex parte for an order to show cause why VidAngel should not be held in contempt.”
But VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon told the Deseret News in a phone interview that the legal matter is about filtering, since the company has asked studios for the licenses and distribution rights.
Harmon said the company would be willing to pay for the rights to the films in order to filter them.
VidAngel sent the Deseret News a declaration for the case, which was later published online, saying that the company didn’t remove the studio's’ films because it would ruin its app entirely.
He said if VidAngel took off all studio films after the injunction was filed, it would create too much confusion for customers and it would upset some of the 125 studios or distributors who are OK with the service.
“The only alternative would be for VidAngel to completely turn off in-app purchasing across the board — which would prevent VidAngel from offering content that it is directly licensed to filter and stream or as to which the rights holders have no objection to VidAngel's service,” the declaration read. “As a result, during the app black-out period, we are unable to modify our system to block access to just the plaintiffs' titles without causing major customer confusion about which titles are and are not available for purchase. To immediately shut down, we would have to block access to all titles.”
The declaration also said it would be tough to limit all filtering easily because customers own more than 20,000 discs in the system.
Reaching out to all of them quickly would be a difficult task, the statement read.
Moving forward, VidAngel requested “a reasonable time to comply fully with the terms of the preliminary injunction if no stay is granted in the interim,” according to the declaration.
In a statement last week, Harmon said the company planned to continue the legal battle with the studios and create original content.
He reiterated such when he spoke to the Deseret News this week.
“We are going to fight so that families can enjoy filtered, streamed content on modern devices. We’ll take this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary,” he said. “We’re happy to pay more. We’re happy to rent more. We’re happy to pay the prices the studios want us to pay. Just give us filtering.”