VidAngel, Shut By Court, Relaunches With New Streaming Model

UPDATED, 7:40 PM: As of Tuesday, VidAngel, the filtering service earlier shut down by the court, is back as a revised streaming service that works in tandem with conventional movie and TV streaming services like Amazon and Netflix.

“It is live now,” VidAngel chief executive Neal Harmon said in a brief telephone interview, following an investor presentation in Provo, Utah, where the company has its headquarters, that was streamed today on Facebook Live.

Harmon said the revised service will cost users $7.99 a month, and will work in conjunction with their existing streaming options, though companies like Amazon and Netflix are not directly involved in a collaboration with the filtering service. “Under studio contracts with all of them, they are not allowed to authorize anyone to filter,” Harmon said.

Instead, he said, VidAngel becomes a proxy for individuals who are permitted legally to filter content under the Family Movie Act. “VidAngel becomes them in the cloud,” he said of what he described as both a new business model and a new technology.

PREVIOUS, 9 AM: VidAngel, whose film and television filtering service was shut down almost six months ago by a court order, may soon be back in a new and presumably challenge-proof guise.

At least that’s the word from one person familiar with a plan to be announced at the company’s Provo, Utah, headquarters at 7 PM Mountain Time today, and streamed live via its Facebook page. The gathering is being billed as an “investor event,” at which VidAngel has been promising what its Facebook page calls a “bleeping big” announcement. According to the person familiar with the plan, the announcement will involve a new approach to the business of blocking portions of home entertainment programming that some consumers find objectionable because of strong language, violence, sex scenes or other issues.

Under its old system, VidAngel cracked the encryption on discs, then sold and repurchased the content in transactions with consumers who specified edits. In effect, the sale and re-purchase created a cheap, family-friendly rental of popular films like The Martian, and VidAngel said that system should be permitted under the Family Movie Act; but Disney, Fox and Warner obtained an injunction from a federal court in Los Angeles blocking the practice. The Ninth Circuit heard an appeal in the case last week, but has yet to rule. VidAngel, however, is apparently prepping an end-run that is meant to let it resume filtering by a process that would not violate the injunction.

How that might work should become clear with Tuesday’s announcement in Provo. A VidAngel representative declined to discuss the plan.

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