Ninth Circuit Denies VidAngel Stay

Utah-based content-filtering company VidAngel has turned to Congress for relief now that a second court has denied its request to stay an injunction against the service.

It had sought a stay Dec. 29 from the from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after California District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. denied its request of the stay of the injunction that he himself had imposed.

The district court has yet to hear the underlying case in a suit filed by Disney, Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros.

“Congress passed the Family Movie Act in 2005 because Hollywood had sued every company that offered content filtering for private, in-home viewing," said VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon. "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."

A family values pitch could potentially find receptive ears in a Republican Congress, though studios could also find support for their argument that the issue is violating the exclusive distribution windows on which their business their business model is based.

VidAngel argues that it is only giving users the ability to more effectively filter content—skip the nude scenes, mute the language if they choose—in their own homes. The studios argue it is illegally circumventing copy protections, modifying and streaming their content and preempting their windows for releasing their content online. The company says it will continue its fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision," said Harmon, "but remain optimistic about our long-term prospects on appeal. Until our appeal is decided, we regret that VidAngel will not be able to offer filtered content. We continue to be grateful for the massive outpouring of support from across the country.”

VidAngel raised $10 million from supporters for legal fees.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.