Hollywood vs. VidAngel: A look at the legal battle over the Utah-based streaming service

Return To Article

Commenting has temporarily been suspended in preparation for our new website launch, which is planned for the week of August 12th. When the new site goes live, we will also launch our new commenting platform. Thank you for your patience while we make these changes.

  • ERB Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 8:15 p.m.

    I've never used Vidangel but I'm sick of one liberal judge throwing their power around. Time for term limits on federal judges. And all politicians to boot.

  • MichelleOrme Provo, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 7:56 p.m.

    To james d. morrison

    VidAngel buys many and multiple copies of each movie they are offering for sale. That's how Hollywood gets their compensation (this results in less profit for VidAngel, too). VidAngel has tried several other paths to offer filtered movies, but has been blocked by Hollywood every time. This current arrangement is the only way they found to compensate Hollywood and still offer their filters. They would gladly like to negotiate a different deal, but the studios have refused. Studio contracts have specific restrictions on their employees participating in any effort to edit or filter their films.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 6:00 p.m.

    @jimbo low;
    "Really the bigger issue is California judges (and all liberal judges) who seem to judge cases based on a very simple formula:
    a. What is the most liberal position.
    b. What is the most conservative position.
    Choose a."

    I can understand that a conservative from Utah County would have an uniformed perception of California. But, the FACTS are that California is a Conservative State. The State that elected Reagan & Schwarzenegger as Governor. Yes, LA & San Fran are mostly liberal, but Orange County, San Diego & most of the Central Valley are overwhelming Republican. In fact, Californians ID themselves as this: 35% Conservative. 34% Liberal. And 30% "middle of the road. Looked at another way, a huge majority of 65% of Californians identify themselves as center or right!

    Do some homework. You'll be surprised.

  • David Centerville, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 3:59 p.m.

    My family has used Vidangel--a great service! There are plenty of great stories and films but one might feel uncomfortable with some of the content. Or, there's a great movie but not so good for kids. With Vidangel we've been able to apply filters to remove whatever we want, watch the movie with our kids, and feel confident that we won't be surprised with something we didn't want to see or hear.

    I don't understand why Hollywood has a problem here. It would seem like the producers make money by broadening their viewership through Vidangel and other filter/streaming companies. I also don't understand why a producer would be offended by someone wanting to watch their movie but filter it to remove potentially offensive content.

    Vidangel has been a great service for us!

    Dec. 13, 2016 1:52 p.m.

    Really the bigger issue is California judges (and all liberal judges) who seem to judge cases based on a very simple formula:
    a. What is the most liberal position.
    b. What is the most conservative position.
    Choose a.
    This judicial process sets aside all that annoying statute and precedent business. Being a judge in California is actually very easy. Being an intelligent judge in California.....I am not sure about that (could someone let me know if there is a test case out there worth evaluating?).

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 12:32 p.m.

    Nikesei he aletheia - Heber City, UT

    I would guess TV stations pay a fee for the broadcasting and have permission to edit the movie for public television. I have heard of airline edited versions as well. Perhaps the studios would sell these versions if people were willing to pay the price. The key thing here is they have permission to edit; or the studio edits it for them, and they pay to broadcast the movie.

  • rogerdpack Orem, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 11:56 a.m.

    vidanagel was definitely doing some shady stuff by ripping the blu-rays then streaming them to their customers. Then, basically, not paying the studios a streaming license.
    That is where they will lose.
    In terms of editing, good on 'em!

  • EastCoastM Amherst, NH
    Dec. 13, 2016 11:37 a.m.

    @Impartial "No, Max, it's your's, you bought it. However, if you buy it, edit it and try to market it as the original title & written by the original author, you are violating copyright law."

    But that's not what is happening. VidAngel isn't marketing anything that's edited. VidAngel sells the unedited movies and shows. They are, however, marketing a way to apply edits to a video you ostensibly own (if you want to apply those edits). That this is a violation of copyright law isn't clear. What is true is that VidAngel is breaking the DCMA according to very strict interpretations, which is why the injunction was placed. However, what VidAngel is doing (other than "breaking" DRM) is legal under the 2005 Family Home Movie Act and probably protected by fair use doctrine.

    They resorted to the "gray" approach because the companies do not like the Family Home Movie Act and weren't willing to negotiate with VidAngel.

    I've never used VidAngel but I fully embrace their desire to provide ways to watch edited media.

  • Nikesei he aletheia Heber City, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 11:31 a.m.

    Sad decision, in my opinion. While I don't use the VidAngel service, I can see why people would want to use the service to clean up Hollywood nastiness in some films. I have no small children at home now (but do on occasion have grandchildren visit) but I remember getting a bit of a shock (in front of the children!) from an episode of a series I purchased some years back.

    Didn't see that full frontal nudity scene coming because it was edited out by the television station (but which I did not yet know). Liked the episode so much I wanted to get it for my collection. Watched it as a family and got the surprise.

    Same thing happened with a PG movie I had seen on television. Bought it (rated PG!) and had to give the children explanations and guidance afterward when confronted with the nudity. Don't get me started on the BattleStar Galactica reimagined series!

    What I don't understand is why it is OK for the television stations to edit movies but not for VidAngel. I realize that the law is in part why that was but it all is most inconsistent, in my opinion. VidAngel does about what television stations across the nation have done for many, many years.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 11:18 a.m.

    You "buy" a movie for $20, they edit it for you. Then you "sell" it back to them for $19, seems to be a sneaky way of trying to get around laws. When you buy a $20 R rated movie you are making R rated movies more marketable to movie studios. They see the demand and make more regardless if you "edit" them. Better to buy only movies that you can watch unedited.

  • Logical Larry Provo, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 11:06 a.m.

    Clearly, VidAngel provides a needed service.

    However, the Hollywood studios are not the big bad wolf here. The issue is not a question of whether or not filtering is legal, but if VidAngel's method is perhaps disingenuous. The buying of movies, and then selling back, seems to be a cheap rental. Streaming services have to pay additional rental fees. VidAngel does not.

    Having said all that, I side with VidAngel. I merely wish to explain the studio's position better, for better dialogue.

    I anticipate this decision will be overturned in higher court.

  • Bigger Bubba Herriman, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 11:06 a.m.

    As much as I like VidAngel I am not surprised that a judge ordered an injunction against them. Best wishes going forward though. Maybe Hollywood will take note and start providing clean version DVDs and BluRays.

  • Max Upstate, NY
    Dec. 13, 2016 10:40 a.m.


    No, Max, it's your's, you bought it. However, if you buy it, edit it and try to market it as the original title & written by the original author, you are violating copyright law.

    Duh. But this has nothing to do with this story. When I buy a movie, I can edit or screen as I please. This is what Vid Angel allows me to do. Much like ripping out a page of a book or crossing out lines. It is my book. It is my movie. I purchased it.

  • JimmyJoeJoe Portland, OR
    Dec. 13, 2016 10:35 a.m.

    @JohnnyBoy - I've got a Google Chrome extension that changes the word "Trump" to "Drumpf" wherever it appears on a web page. Is that change unacceptable because the word 'Trump' IS "central to the information conveyed by a webpage?"

    Here is what I wish would happen (and I am not a VidAngel customer).
    1. Hollywood acknowledge that there is a market for filtered content
    2. Hollywood thanks VidAngel for having already developed the technology that allows the end-consumer to filter content in the manner the consumer wants
    3. Hollywood and VidAngel work out a suitable financial arrangement

    I doubt there are many actors or directors that are saying, "If that family with small children wants to watch my movie, they have to also listen to those four-letter words and watch the gory death scenes. If they don't watch those parts, then I don't want their money."

    This is purely about revenue for the studios. Hollywood worked out deals with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, and they could work out a similar deal with VidAngel if they so desired. But I feel like VidAngel is the new kid in the neighborhood and nobody wants to play with them.

  • jonnyboy Orem, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 8:57 a.m.

    @ Ronnie W.
    These is a big difference between ad blocking and movie editing. Ads are not even remotely integral to website content. This can be seen in the fact that ads are not permanent but visitor specific. Computer history is used to tailor ads to individual visitors and are therefore arbitrary with respect to the content of a visited page. Scenes in a movie, though, are concrete and unchanging from viewer to viewer. Ad blocking is acceptable because it is not central to the information conveyed by a webpage. Ads not the webpage author's content and material and therefore control of ad viewing is not the author's property. Movie scenes on the other hand are the authors material and therefore the control of their distribution should be reserved for said author.

  • Justsomeguy7 Utah, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 8:34 a.m.

    @Impartial7 ;

    What is your source for the 100billion dollar worth of the LDS Church?

  • Ronnie W. Layton, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 8:17 a.m.

    "Thinks of it this way- if an outside group printed their revised, edited, version of the Book of Mormon, do you not think the church wouldn't have them in court tomorrow?"

    The Book of Mormon is what is considered "public domain". So anyone could print it. The Community of Christ has done exactly that with their own edition.

    As for VidAngel, I view it very similarly to ad blockers on the internet. A website sends content over the web and the client(consumer) programmatically picks and chooses what he wants to be shown. If you think Ad blockers are okay, but Vid Angel isn't it seems a little inconsistent.

  • screenname Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 7:57 a.m.


    Please look up the definition of censorship and explain how that fits into what is happening in this situation.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 7:30 a.m.

    "So when I buy a book and decide to rip out a page, I am violating copyright law?"

    No, Max, it's your's, you bought it. However, if you buy it, edit it and try to market it as the original title & written by the original author, you are violating copyright law.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 7:26 a.m.

    Utah companies like this, consistently lose these battles in courts outside of Utah. If you don't want your family to see movies with specific content, that most Americans accept, don't rent it. The LDS church is estimated to be worth over 100 Billion dollars. Hire the screen writer, producers & actor to make the sanitized version for your members. Problem solved.
    Thinks of it this way- if an outside group printed their revised, edited, version of the Book of Mormon, do you not think the church wouldn't have them in court tomorrow?

  • jonnyboy Orem, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 7:21 a.m.

    Imagine instead a case where someone took movies produced by the LDS church, edited them to be more historically accurate, and then "rented" them out in the same way that VidAngel is trying to do. You can bet your bottom dollar that the LDS church would litigate that case exactly as Hollywood is litigating this one...and I would bet that all of the posters who are complaining on this comment section about Hollywood would then be coming to the defense of the LDS church.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    Dec. 13, 2016 7:19 a.m.

    "Aww, we know censorships wrong but can't we just do a teeny bit? Sad. look, If you want those kinds of films and television--make them yourself. Of course, that takes a bit of talent and creativity, but these guys have shown quite a bit of talent for taking the work of others and creating something that will make them money. Why not join the rel artists and create something of your own? It's the tougher way, but a way that will allow you to hold your head up.

  • Freedom Seeker Riverton, UT
    Dec. 13, 2016 6:02 a.m.

    Once again the liberal federal courts deny the will of the people by taking away a simple method of filtering smut out of movies produced by Hollywood. Once again, evil triumphs over good, this is despicable.

  • Max Upstate, NY
    Dec. 13, 2016 5:06 a.m.

    So when I buy a book and decide to rip out a page, I am violating copyright law?

  • Cutedog Rupert, ID
    Dec. 13, 2016 12:36 a.m.

    I wish we could sue Hollywood for being ing a public nuisance, and have someone else make decent movies.

  • 3grandslams Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 12, 2016 11:55 p.m.

    Wow a California court rules in favor of...Hollywood. Didnt see that coming.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Dec. 12, 2016 11:05 p.m.

    I'll never understand why these studios are so against any content-filtering on their films. I've never had any other company tell me they don't want me as a customer because I'm not using their product "their way." Quickbooks doesn't come after my company because we don't use the payroll or fixed asset modules. They're getting their money - why would they care what we do with it?

  • Oh Really? HERRIMAN, UT
    Dec. 12, 2016 11:01 p.m.

    So, they can shut down a company if there is one other providing the same service?

    Isn't a single company called a monopoly, and aren't those illegal?

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 12, 2016 10:47 p.m.

    Clearly, Hollyweird cares far more about trying to alter culture than about selling movies.

  • MichelleOrme Provo, UT
    Dec. 12, 2016 10:22 p.m.

    "However, Birotte pointed to a similar company, ClearPlay, that offers authorized streaming through GooglePlay's service."

    VidAngel tried to take a similar route with their business. Hollywood wouldn't let them. Given VidAngel's attempts to work with movie studios and the studios complete unwillingness to work with them, I'm not sure the 'plaintiff' is genuinely entitled to this 'injunctive relief'?

  • james d. morrison Boise, ID
    Dec. 12, 2016 10:10 p.m.

    So, if I understand correctly, they aren't suing them for editing the movies but because they don't have the digital rights to be selling movies at all? VidAngel has to have purchase a digital copy of every movie they sell, even if they buy at back, correct? Is VidAngel just reselling the same copy to multiple people at the same time?

    Dec. 12, 2016 9:21 p.m.

    "Accordingly, the court concludes that a preliminary injunction is in the public interest."

    Clearly not true, a large portion of the public wants clean versions of movies and TV programs and are willing to pay for it. Yet, Hollywood wants this blocked because of "artistic integrity"? Since when has the word "integrity" ever applied to the vast majority of Hollywood?

    The argument against VidAngel is both specious and disingenuous while showing Hollywood's typical disregard for the public. I hope VidAngel wins because my family would like to continue using them.

  • JLindow St George, UT
    Dec. 12, 2016 8:55 p.m.

    It's a bit baffling why Hollywood has allowed the market niche that wants clean versions of rated R movies to go unsatisfied.