UPDATED, 6:50 PM: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal today denied VidAngel’s request for an emergency stay on an injunction the company had sought last week. “Congress passed the Family Movie Act in 2005 because Hollywood had sued every company that offered content filtering for private, in-home viewing,” CEO Neal Harmon said in a statement. “Today, a small group of Hollywood studios, led by Disney, is using the legal process to try to render that law meaningless. We are asking our supporters to call their members of Congress and urge them to update to the Family Movie Act with new language that cannot be misconstrued in court, making it even clearer that filtering is absolutely legal in the streaming age.”
PREVIOUSLY, December 30: VidAngel — the start-up streaming service that offers consumers opportunities to watch movies without profanity or potentially offensive content — is down, but says it’s not out, after a court setback in a case from Disney, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox.
Today the company shuttered the service, complying with a U.S. District Court in California injunction this month. Judge Andre Birotte Jr. said the studios were “likely to succeed” with a suit that charged VidAngel infringed on their copyrights and violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and would “suffer irreparable harm” if it continued to do business during the legal battle.
VidAngel today asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal to stay enforcement of the injunction. The studios have until January 2 to respond, and VidAngel would have another day to respond.
“We hope to get a quick decision,” says the company’s General Counsel David Quinto. VidAngel is asking studios not involved in the court case to agree to not sue while it’s alive he adds.
“We want to provide all of the studios a light” on what the law does and doesn’t allow. “Some have privately expressed their hope that we can overcome.”
Meanwhile, VidAngel says it’s keeping its website up to offer information about the suit as well as different content including family-friendly comedy, and films from studios that don’t object to the service. CEO Neal Harmon says by mid-January.he expects to have three independent titles, which he declined to identify.
The company contends the service is protected by the federal Family Movies Act, which gives people the right to filter violence, profanity, and other content from home video versions of studio releases. To comply with the law, the company doesn’t create a permanent copy of filtered films or show them publicly.
VidAngel buys DVD or Blu-ray discs for the films it streams. Each one is linked to a copy on its servers that one customer at a time can effectively buy, designating the kinds of content he or she wants filtered. Once done with the film, the customer effectively sells it back to VidAngel for a price that’s discounted for the length of time it’s been accessed.
The company says the process is similar to what college bookstores do when they rent textbooks. The studios contend that this is merely a form of piracy.
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