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.