VidAngel vs. Disney – Federal Appeals Court

This morning I watched the oral arguments made by both Vid Angel and Disney in the federal appeals court. It’s available online for anyone who’s interested (in fact I’ll embed here on my blog):

For anyone not familiar with Vid Angel or the current situation here is a quick summary: Vid Angel is a filtering company that allows customers to purchase movies and stream edited versions to their homes. Disney, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 20th Century Fox Film Corporation and Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC are suing Vid Angel claiming that their filtering / streaming service violates copyright laws. Back in December of 2016 an injunction was filed against Vid Angel (and later upheld), effectively shutting down their service. Today was an opportunity for Vid Angel to argue against the injunction in court.

While I enjoy most of what the aforementioned entertainment companies offers (i.e. characters, parks, merchandise, etc) and understand the value of IP, I would really like to see the current injunction lifted. I think the issue of copyright here (especially in relation to the Family Movie Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is extremely complex and needs the full focus of the courts to be understood. In between now and when that court battle is actually decided I believe that Vid Angel should be allowed to operate. I strongly believe they provide a needed service, I don’t believe there is financial harm being done to the studios* and I believe the studios aren’t being fair to the end consumer.

* For those who think Vid Angel needs to get streaming licenses I make the counterpoint that what Vid Angel does is essentially a streaming version of Redbox (not illegal). However, Redbox has an agreement to delay some releases, which I think is an acceptable compromise. I will also point out that Vid Angel attempted to obtain streaming licenses and was rebuffed. I, and many others, would happily pay more for the ability to watch licensed edited movies, but if studios disallow filtering companies from obtaining those licenses then…

Based on the arguments I saw I would guess that the injunction will stay in place, in some form or another. As I already mentioned the law on copyright is difficult to interpret, (and also of note much of it was created prior to digital streaming technology). What makes me the most upset is that movie studios pretend that they are not violating our right to censor content we have purchased. It’s like throwing someone in a trunk, dumping the trunk in a lake and telling the person in the trunk they “are free to do whatever they want.” I want, no I have, the right to censor what I watch. Vid Angel provides the technology to enable that right to be realized and I genuinely hope the courts can see that there’s no viable alternative.

Vid Angel just announced there’s some “Good News” coming June 13th, at 7pm. Fingers crossed, but I’m guessing it won’t be anything too dramatic.

BONUS: Sony Pictures recently announced that they are offering cleaner version of some their movies. Predictably some directors objected- “directors” like Seth Rogen. Leave it to people in Hollywood to try force their morally bankruptcy perspective on everyone. Thanks for being  a dick, Seth.  If Hollywood wants to make crass garage that’s their right. If I want to edit their crass garbage that’s my right. At least Sony recognizes not everyone watching movies is a degenerate (exaggerated for effect, obviously). FYI:  anyone who says “Just don’t watch those movies” absolutely misses the point.

Empire “Building”

I set the ball rolling years ago. “We’ll need to buy a building eventually,” I had said, almost absentmindedly. It seemed like it was forever away.

A few days into May it was time to tackle that very difficult question: How do we address our long-term need for space? With our lease expiration looming about a year off, we needed to decide if we wanted to continue leasing, buy an existing building or build something new. The math was fairly simple: If we were going to be around for another ten years then owning a building was the right financial call. Many businesses don’t realize that the amount they are paying in rent may be equal to (or even more than) a monthly payment on a mortgage, assuming a down payment is viable.

After looking around, the BHQ team concluded there wasn’t really an existing structure that was suitable for our needs (at least not something cost effective). The most logical way to proceed was to buy land and build. After conversations with numerous builders an alluring Pleasant Grove project presented itself. The BHQ team felt that it would meet our needs and then some. With a larger subdivided structure we could potentially even lease out some of our unused space allowing us to subsidize our building payments. Thus began our negotiations….

The proposed building site in Pleasant Grove

At first things didn’t go smoothly. The upfront costs were onerous and the timeline was too hurried. At one point we even decided to back off completely. Part of me was relived. Even though I was the one that had pushed for building ownership in the past, I freely admit that I became one of the partners that felt leery at the prospect of owning a building and the financial obligations it brought. I felt that renting, while not as generous to our asset sheet, gave us more flexibility and, in the short-term, more on-hand cash. However, a new offer that everyone one felt good about was presented. My position was swayed and we decided to move forward with the project. Since the papers are now signed and construction has begun I think it’s safe to announce that BHQ is moving to PG in 2018.

Our 36,000 square foot complex  (foot print size) will consist of six units like the one pictured here (this building was constructed by the same builder we are using).

I’m pretty excited about the new building. We’ll build it to suit our ever expanding needs and we should have plenty of room for the foreseeable future. It’s also an opportunity for us to venture into the world of commercial real estate rental. There’s still a lot of work left to do, obviously, but I believe this was the right call and it will be worth the effort. More to come!

Update: October 1, 2017: 

Visiting the construction site. Making some good progress!

Update: November 9, 2017:

Nov 10, 2017. The building is really coming along! The exterior is almost complete. BHQ World Headquarters ahoy. 

The windows were going in when I stopped by. They should be finishing up the roof this coming week. They are also putting in the parking lot. The interior is framed out. My wife said it looks a bit like Noah’s Ark 😀 From what I can tell everyone has done a great job!

The facility is pretty big; This is Jim standing in 1/3 of the building (it’s separated into three sections- offices / warehouse / rentable unit. 

 

Knife Addiction – Marketing Level VI

I have to hand it to the boys and girls at Blade HQ- this is a good solid marketing campaign. They have identified something that affects everyone: addiction. They have removed a bit of negativity surrounding “addiction” and their message is “There’s no cure so enjoy it!.” This allows the victim the simple, guiltless, pleasure of indulgence. In BladeHQ’s world there are no consequences. I’m okay with that. Audience connection engaged.

The video is well executed in terms of writing, casting / acting and videography. It’s clear Blade HQ puts a lot of effort into their marketing strategies and I really hope this pays off for them- they deserve it!

Observer: Cam, you’re writing about your company is a way that strikes me as sort of… odd.
Cam: Oh am I? My company, you say? Nope. I’m just a guy who loves knives giving credit where credit is due. I had zero to to with this campaign and it impresses me. Very excited to see how it plays out.

Preoccupation with “Progress”

We hear memorable sayings about living in the moment, the “now,” all the time. It’s good, solid advice. I often catch myself saying things like “I’ll feel satisfied when…” or “After such and such I’ll feel better.” This mentality robs us of our ability to appreciate what’s right in front of us. It’s misdirects our focus and attention. It can rob us of our ability to live in the present. Of our happiness.

This post may feel like it’s headed somewhere substantial, but I assure you it will be as superficial as usual. Let’s talk about my car (which is really more of a metaphor in this post). I am perpetually fixated on what parts I’m going to get, what I’m going to do and what it will be like “when.” What’s up with that? I have done a bunch of cool upgrade and all I can do is think about the next one. There must be some emotional component at play I’m not in touch with (spoiler: there is).

Realistically the Turbo S has all the power you’d ever need in a street car. But there I am online looking at the COBB AP, Kline exhaust systems and an IPD plenum. Why? So it will go a little faster? I don’t even open the car up as it sits. I live in perpetual fear of being pulled over or crashing; more power has got to the last thing I need, logically speaking. I have had some bad luck with car upgrades in the past and, again logically assessing the situation, I don’t know why I’d want to void my warranty and risk catastrophic engine failure to achieve a higher trap speed in a quarter mile I won’t even run. Insane.

Visually I’m super happy with my car. I love the black wheels, the carbon fiber accents and the ’16 styling in general. And yet… I look at rear diffusers, I consider putting in different door sills (With lighting? Yes please!), carbon fiber side view mirrors, a spoiler swap and maybe painting that rear valance… maybe I’ll just trade it in for a 2017. Again, I’m so fixated on going another round I can’t even appreciate what’s just been added, what’s right in front of me. All to common, I think.

So the question is “Why?” Is it the “more” mentality that seems to drive this generation? Is it the fear of missing out on something better? Other people have this stuff and they’re happy, right? Or maybe it’s just a hole – and emotional void – that I try to fill by dumping endless stuff into. And as I explore my feelings I begin to realize that I loath things. Not all things are bad, of course. But things are demanding. They need other things. They need your time.

Thinking about what’s next for my car isn’t limited to upgrades and modifications. No, it extends into worrying about what the next problem will be. It involves thinking about that little speaker buzz I couldn’t find, the clicking noise I imagine I hear, the fear that my boost level will drop, the transmission will fail, the car will literally fall apart. To what end? Every drive should be a chance to enjoy the car’s capabilities and performance but part of it inevitably ends up as a worry session. An opportunity to try and predict the most negative future I can imagine based off of fear. Fear controls. Things control. Somehow they have to power to grab our attention and shift it.

Things often distract us from what’s important. Every moment wasted thinking about my car is time I could have writing, reading, learning, spending time time with family, friends. Don’t get me wrong- a hobby is fine, probably even healthy. But when a pastime consumes you and tricks you into giving more time that it deserves and removes you from the now then you lose and everyone around you loses.

As I mentioned my car is a metaphor; you can substitute the idea of a car for anything, really. I chose a car because it’s clear to me that my car gets more than it’s fair share of my time. I see people who become obsessed with all kinds of things (some, like me, are not limited to just one thing): work, money, food, interior decorating, home improvements, Facebook, video games, health and exercise, travel, art, toys and phones. There are no end to worldly diversions.

So I’ve recognized a problem. What’s next? Far from being preachy this post is simply an exploration of my own feelings. None of these ideas are new to me, but I wanted to put them somewhere. I don’t have advice to dispense. After I finish this post I’ll probably look at carbon fiber car parts, see what’s new on Facebook and think about home improvements. Alas.

After I wrote this post I actually did a Google search for “living in the now” and found this TED talk. I’ll just put this here for later. Maybe what I’m really blogging about (saying) is that things can be an obstacle to our happiness. Duh. But it’s more than that. I’m also trying to convey that things can take us out of the moment. And being out of the moment can diminish our happiness.

But won’t being content and living in the moment rob us of our motivation? Maybe I’m misconstruing vision and progress as an obsession with material goods. Eh.

May 1, 2017: An Update- For the record I find that I become hyper-fixated on my car when I have something very stressful looming over me, as I do right now. 

New IT Dept

May 2, 2017 – Ah yes! Some way back when pics from the ‘ol scrapbook. This is from when we were finishing of the IT space over the storefront. That has been a great IT department, BTW. 

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Framing

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Drywall and finished

Orange You Glad?

I modified this Dilbert cartoon to express my feelings about work (with regard to the last couple of weeks). If you think you understand it then you’re most likely part of the problem.

dilbert-with-fruit

The SHOT Show. Why Do We Go?

Once a year Blade HQ heads out to Las Vegas to attend the SHOT show. Our goal: Fuel “Operation Grow & Dominate.” We’re on quest for new products, a mission to strengthen existing relationships and a crusade to excel (it took me awhile to come up with all that stuff).

Personally I think going to the show is pretty grueling. It’s non stop walking and talking, wheeling and dealing and wining and dining. None of that is stuff that I’m particularly good at and sometimes I get the impression that I may even be in the way (as well as another owner who won’t be named at this time). We have people attending the show who are much more qualified to handle this stuff. So why do we keep going?

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Sure…something about the atmosphere is Vegas is exciting.  And hanging out with coworkers is definitely fun. Perhaps it’s a misguided attempt to show we’ve still got “it.” Confession time: It’s the sandwiches. I was upfront with everyone volunteering that I was “going just to get a lobster sandwich” (found at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio). In a strange twist of fate Jim was also going for a sandwich. Specifically to mock an incredibly oversized club at the Carnagie Deli (he mocked it by finishing the entire thing).

Thanks Vegas! We’ll see you next year.