As usual, I think the Internet is overlooking the nuance of the situation.
Clearly VidAngel broke the law: they circumvented DRM for financial gain.
However, the Family Movie Act of 2005 explicitly excepts certain filtering
technologies from copyright and trademark infringement, an exception which some
of the law’s authors apparently believe should have protected VidAngel and
similar companies from prosecution. Since the judiciary is supposed to consider
the intent of the law upon which its ruling is based, that works in
VidAngel’s favor. In short, I think the proper ruling is not
willful infringement, but innocent infringement. The defendants are still at
fault, but it’s not like they didn’t tell Disney what they were
doing before the business even opened its doors. If Disney had simply said no at
that point, this whole mess could have been avoided.
@ Trisha Lou,“I hope this doesn't affect their streaming
service.” The article states that VidAngels had prepared a
war chest in the event it lost the case. The Vid Angel webpage states the amount
of that war chest was $10 million. They have a ways to go. I don’t
believe they bargained on a $62 million judgement against them. CleanFlicks
faced the same dilemma over a decade ago. When given the option it elected to go
out of business rather than attempt an appeal that would have financially ruined
the company and its investors. It will be interesting to see if
VidAngels appeals the recent ruling as it says it will. Case law is not on its
The bottom line is it is not ok to steal other people's property. VidAngels
are anything but angels. They took what didn't belong to them, changed it
as they saw fit and sold it to others for profit. The court was absolutely
correct in their ruling. If people don't like films with violence, strong
language or sexual content, they can make their own films any way they see fit.
I believe the LDS Church does exactly that as do many other film makers who
produce Christian movies. Also, major film companies produce a multitude of
family films every year because it is a huge market. Go see those. Give them
your money, not a company like VidAngels. Those of you who think VidAngels are
the good guys need to rethink your definition of "good." Thou shalt not
steal.... get it?
I hope this doesn't affect their streaming service, because I love
filtering out the things I don't want to hear and see in a movie. I wish
Netfix and Hulu had it already built in. Thank you Vidangel!
@ Radamus,“Technically Vid Angel violated the law because they
circumvented the DRM.”Circumventing the technology that
prevents ripping is a violation of the law. VidAngel also reproduced copyrighted
material without permission. That’s illegal under Title 17 of the U.S.
Code. Further, they distributed copyrighted material via DVDs and streaming in a
commercial enterprise without license to do so. Again, that’s illegal.To suggest that the illegal activity VidAngel conducted was akin to a
person fast-forwarding through an scene in a DVD misses the point and the
court’s judgement entirely.
Amused by everyone who thinks that it's OK for VidAngel to do whatever they
want just because you want to show off to your friends that you can still watch
movies you wouldn't otherwise watch.
I feel like they relied upon the 2005 Law and that the courts have simply
ignored that law. As evidence, I note that the authors of the 2005 law said
that they felt that the law indeed protected Vid Angel in this case.But the courts ignore the law and all of that. To me, this is a
problem. I don't see how the courts can just ignore that law
given that it supersedes and thus modifies DCMA. But they do. It bothers me a
lot that a law can be passed and you can still be found guilty of doing
something wrong when you follow it.
I don't dispute the ruling. But I do push back against the finger-wagers
who scold this company because they profited from content they did not pay for,
or because they altered an artists work. If I buy a DVD and then
fast-forward through a scene, am I altering the work? If you purchased the same
DVD, have I done anything to affect the copy you own? If I take the DVD I own
and submit it to a process that automates that scene-skipping for me, is that
service providing me with content or a service? Technically Vid Angel violated
the law because they circumvented the DRM.
Well of course this is the outcome. What did they think would happen? You
can't just take someone's copyrighted material, make money off of it(
and edit it) without working out a licensing deal to do so.
Not like they have that kind of money.
@Stacey23“IF the companies themselves (I'm looking at you
Disney) would simply provide this service for their morally conscientious
customers...”The companies are beholden to no one but the
shareholders and the shareholders expect long-term profitability. Clearly, there
is not the market demand for entertainment products for “morally
conscientious customers” to justify the cost to produce. That, however,
does not justify the theft of intellectual property by VidAngel.
It's a shame vidangel gives other filtering companies a bad name.Vidangel was doing several things wrong, but there are other companies that do
it right. Clearplay still has their DVD player, Play It My Way edits movies
others.The law allows filtering as long as it doesn't break
other copy right laws.
So many comments are still missing the point (both for and against VidAngel).
This case has nothing to do with filtering or editing content.
VidAngel lost because they stole content and resold it to customers. This is
what the studio's argued and what the judge ruled on. VidAngel
tried to make the case about filtering but it wasn't. The case was about
VidAngel illegally distributing movies, regardless of filtering (you could watch
movies without content filters on VidAngel). The studio's were not trying
to stop a filtering service, they were trying to stop an illegal streaming
service. VidAngel thought they found a loophole in the law (buying
physical DVDs and reselling streaming rights) but they were wrong. Movie studios not wanting their films edited for content is a completely
separate issue and has nothing to do with this case. Many other companies now
offer legal filtering services which are not being sued.
Utah company CleanFlix ran into these exact same issues over a decade ago. There
is a great documentary about it. Perhaps VidAngel should have watched it and
taken notes on companies who have tried (and failed) at this concept before. Disney is extremely protective of their IP and they will continue to get
even bigger with the amount of $$$ they rake in from their subsidiary companies
(LucasFilm, ESPN, Pixar, ABC.. and now FOX). No mom and pop company
can compete with that.
I'm surprised it took this long. You can't alter copyrighted
materials, edit them and sell them. It doesn't take much research to find
Those of you who think VidAngel did no wrong might want to "flip the
script" and consider this from another angle. Suppose an LDS-oriented film
company wrote, financed and produced a family-friendly movie, full of warm and
uplifting scenes. But then along comes a company that decides these films are
pretty well made but ridiculously tame for the general market. Without
permission, they edit the movies to add several scenes of salacious sex and
gratuitous violence. Not surprisingly, the LDS company is infuriated, not just
by the blatant theft but by the way its creative product has been mutilated.You're on the jury. Who do you rule for?
VidAngel or VidDevil?
VidAngel delivered an unlicensed streaming video service that unfairly undercut
its rivals by blatantly violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Only by circumventing the DVD encryption and infringing upon the
distribution rights of the copyright owners was VidAngel able to charge $1 for
customers to stream movies that had just been released to DVD. Customers who opted not to apply any filters to VidAngel streamed movies could
watch the most current movies at a rock-bottom price. Other providers who
played by the rules, such as Amazon or other filtering services, were at a
competitive disadvantage --they had to wait for movies to be released to the
streaming distribution market and had to pass on the additional licensing fee to
their customers.That VidAngel allowed its subscribers to apply
filters to the content did not transform this core infringement-enabled
arbitrage. As others have explained, the big-bad Hollywood studios
have no problem allowing their content to be edited and distributed, provided
that the appropriate licensing fees are paid.In short, these rulings
to not prevent a video filtering business model. Just an illegal
Stacey23 - Salt Lake City, UTJune 18, 2019 8:42 a.m.IF the companies
themselves (I'm looking at you Disney) would simply provide this service
for their morally conscientious customers there wouldn't be a need for
VidAngel to fill the void. Many, many, (many) homes do this themselves and store
the "better" versions for repeat viewing. "You know, we
keep hearing (mostly here) about this huge demand from " morally
conscientious customers". Whose morality? Is it someone that objects to
nudity but not profanity. Someone that objects to profanity but not violence?
Someone that objects to all 3 (or more)? That's the issue. Everyone has
their own version of morality. Plus, I can't think of another industry that
employs more people and resources to develop, market and distribute products
that the market wants. They don't miss a chance to make a buck. If there is
such a high demand for " morally conscientious" content, don't you
think they'd be on top of it? How come Utahn's haven't formed
production companies and cranked out these wildly demanded films? Or is it a
small, but vocal market that can't sustain the production costs to produce
the entertainment they say that everyone wants?
Boyd in Provo - , 00"I've always wondered why Hollywood can
purchase the rights to a well written book and then at their discretion change
the content to basically whatever they want?"It's very
simple Boyd of Provo. They BUY all rights to the book including the right to
change parts.Your Snip-Cut folks don't. Don't you think
it's hypocritical to watch a movie you object to?Kralon -
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA"Seems more than a little hypocritical that the
general public simply edits as they see fit and no corporation or
"artist" complains or sues."ERB - Eagle Mountain, UT"Key phrase, California Jury."Yes, that's how
laws work outside of Utah. Get used to it.The "General
public" doesn't own the rights to change anything. It's a very
simple concept.For the $62 million fine, these good and righteous
Mormons could have made several movies that they belives are "wholesome,
family values, Utah values and Mormon values" movies. There is
always "Little House on the Prairie" and Touched by an Angel" for
those folks that want that kind of stuff.Don't steal from
others and you won't get in trouble. VidAngels doesn 't make the rules
about other's property.
VidAngel's business model was all wrong. If a customer legitimately
purchased an original video, sent it in to VidAngel for scrubbing the
objectionable content, paid a fee for the service, no problem.
@ERB - Eagle Mountain, UTJune 17, 2019 10:00 p.m.Key phrase,
California Jury."It ended up in CA because that's where the
9th District Court of Appeals is located. After they already lost in local Utah
courts, the US District Court in SLC, and in Denver. This isn't about
morality in movies. It's about stealing copyrighted material. Judges and
juries in most states don't like theft, no matter the so claimed
"morality" for the theft.
@TexInUT,Thanks for getting back...I understand and accept their desire
for incentive...I'd be GREAT with paying for a cleaned up version THEY
produced...my residual feeling from what I read was they obstinately wanted
nothing to do with a cleaned up version. I get the feeling that's WHY
people like this company produce these...the STUDIOS have NO INTEREST in making
a cleaned version...
@ERB - Eagle Mountain, UTJune 17, 2019 10:00 p.m.Key phrase,
California Jury."Did you read the articles? Have you followed
this story for the past 5 years? It ended up in CA because they lost numerous
court battles in Utah, including some in US District court in SLC, and appealed
all the way to the 9th Circuit Court in CA. This is a case about theft, not
about "clean" movies. Juries, all over the country don't look
kindly at thieves. No matter their "moral" reasons for stealing.
IF the companies themselves (I'm looking at you Disney) would simply
provide this service for their morally conscientious customers there
wouldn't be a need for VidAngel to fill the void. Many, many, (many) homes
do this themselves and store the "better" versions for repeat viewing.
While ripping the DVDs and re-selling them wasn't smart,
VidAngel could simply move to a donation/free service with ads and possibly
contract with a second tier supplier to rebroadcast like tv stations and
streaming services do today. I say second tier because no doubt the
unwashed minions in Hollywood would never touch pen to paper for a deal with a
well meaning, if misguided, group to clean up their act.
Can't edit warm water movies..... best to turn em off.
@ Christmas CaroleThe issue is when the 'clean up' happens
without their permission and then is broadcasted / streamed without their
permission. Remember, the studios are the copyright holder...they have the final
say over their product.As for being 'resistant' to changes
of their product, I can see why they are resistant: they own the product and
have put in a lot of time, effort and money into that final product. Unless
there is an incentive to preform the change, the entertainment industry
generally will do nothing further...especially if the majority of consumers
accept the production 'as-is'. The movie studios do have
agreements with the airlines and TV industry for 'broadcast-quality'
edits. The airlines and broadcast industries pay the studios to produce the
edited product. In rare cases, the broadcast industry many edit it themselves,
but they have to get the 'owning' studio 'sign off' on all
the changes before going to air. Most broadcast services just pay into
'movie service' to get edited content sent to them every month. PBS, broadcast television stations and even BYU-TV subscribe to these
studio services. Otherwise, they couldn't air the movies.
@Christmas Carole: "I haven't studied the legality of this, but
I..."This might have well been the mission statement for
The end of VidAngel. They will declare final bankruptcy and close up shop. Clearplayer and VidAngel and others have a good product. They just need
to find studios that will let them adjust content.
Absolutely the correct outcome.
“We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve
to save filtering for families one iota," Harmon said in a statement.
'And we plan on continuing to steal content we have no right to
because...'I love how they make the 'appeal to
family' as if that should allow them to just steal others property.
@TexInUT,I haven't studied the legality of this, but I do recall
reading some years back that the studios were extremely negative about anyone
'messing' with their 'artistic' and 'creative'
product and did not WANT the content cleaned up...are you aware of any of this?
Vidangel thought they could get cute with copyright law. They knew they would
be in violation if their argument failed and fail it did.No
sympathy. They are no better than the speeder that “didn’t see the
@ERB See I thought the key phrase was "copyright infringement." I
guess in California they don't just excuse criminal behaviors because the
criminal was a "good religious man."
Another example of the "moral" people violating the law and ethics to
make a buck.
These thieves need jail time on top of the monetary punishment.Aren't we in a trade war with China for intellectual theft?
@ ERB,“Key phrase, California jury”Nope.
Key aspect: greed. VidAngels tried the age-old approach of getting something for
nothing by trying to circumvent copyright laws. They thought they could, without
authorization of the developer, purchase popular DVDs, alter and copy them and
stream the altered versions to customers. Doing so was illegal on so many
counts.It is remarkable that so many of those commenting
nevertheless feel that the end justifies the means even if those means are
unethical or illegal.
If one desires to view entertainment without nudity and profanity, then
don't view entertainment that has it to begin with.The best course is
to create quality entertainment in the first place.
Please remember that this ruling has nothing to do with filtering or modifying
content. This is about VidAngel illegally ripping DVDs and streaming them to
customers. This is no different than someone opening a movie theater
without paying the movie studios for rights to show movies. Filtering is still legal and many companies use legal means to provide this
service to customers (VidAngel now included) by appropriately licensing content.
This seems like a fair ruling given the parameters of the case and
VidAngel’s blatant disregard for the law. For a company that espouses
values I would hope they were more ethical (and for the record, I won’t
watch movies with too much objectionable content and like having filtering
Key phrase, California Jury.
Best to work with the media companies. They will allow movies to be edited.
After all, most R rated movies do appear on commercial TV are edited for
If you don't own it, you can 't use it without a contract to do so.
Simple ruling.The lesson learned here is don't steal other
people's property and use it for your gain. Nothing is free in life.
especially if someone paid to create it and you steal it.
Totally predictable and reasonable ruling. VidAngel are not the "good
guys." They're rip-off artists who claimed they could modify other
people's creative works without paying them for the privilege. Unlike a
studio that buys the rights to a novel and has a contract authorizing them to
create a new work based on the original, VidAngel tried to skip the payment part
and exploit other people's work for their own profit. That violates
@ Boyd in Provo - Please check out Section 1201 of the DCMA (Dgital Millennium
Copyright Act) and you will find out about one of the biggest things that got
VidAngel in trouble: the ripping of content by defeating the anti-piracy
encryption...also known as “Anti-Circumvention” provisions of the
DMCA.In short, VidAngel broke the encryption and streamed the video
without the permission of the copyright holder. If they would have
had a deal with the studios in place that allowed them to 'jump
around' the 'offending' scene or language, they would not be in
court right now.
This is heartbreaking! These were just good guys trying to make things better
for those who are tired of seeing and hearing garbage from the major studios.
Most likely every consumer should also pay, because we all zoom past or mute
sections of shows.The whole point of the corporations lawsuit was
the loss of "artistic integrity" which happens with almost every view of
their shows. Seems more than a little hypocritical that the general public
simply edits as they see fit and no corporation or "artist" complains or
If VidAngel, from the beginning, had been a service that worked in conjunction
with the DVD / Blu-Ray disk players (think of the old buffering 'nanny
boxes') or an app that worked on streaming services (modern 'nanny
box'), they would not be in the legal pickle they are now. In the end,
their business plan was faulty.The big no-no's were breaking
anti-piracy copyright protections and streaming of media that was not available
on other platforms (that had contracts with the studios, by the way). In the
end, VidAngel will be auctioned off by the courts...from patents to office
chairs. The way VidAngel went about their business and legal affairs led them
down this path of demise.
I've always wondered why Hollywood can purchase the rights to a well
written book and then at their discretion change the content to basically
whatever they want? What VidAngels has attempted to do in my limited opinion is
to make the movies they work on more suitable for viewing for those individuals
and families that needed the content less offensive. They did their best to
provide a service to many individuals without malice to the movie industry. I
hope they win their appeal if they go forward with it.
That stinks for them. Just shows the consequences of breaking the 8th
commandment: thou shall not steal.