But as of now, the site — which allows users to “rent” movies online and filter out offensive language, violence, and nudity — continues to operate as usual. VidAngel’s CEO, Neal Harmon, has vowed to seek a stay of Judge Andre Birotte’s injunction and to appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
VidAngel’s defiant stance is enraging the Hollywood studios — Fox, Disney, and Warner Bros. — that sued back in June seeking to put the filtering service out of business. In a statement to the court, the studios’ attorney notes that VidAngel has in fact added three new films to its library since the injunction was issued.
“Defying last week’s injunction, VidAngel continues to illegally stream our content without a license and is expanding its infringement by adding new titles,” the studios said in a statement. “We have brought VidAngel’s indefensible violation of the injunction to the court’s attention. As the court made clear in its order, VidAngel’s unauthorized acts of ripping, copying, and streaming our movies and TV shows infringe copyright and violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. VidAngel’s filtering of content has nothing to do with the claims against it and does not excuse its illegal activities.”
VidAngel buys DVDs to create filtered versions of popular Hollywood movies. The most recent DVD releases — “Sully,” “Storks,” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” — all appeared on the site following the judge’s order.
Meanwhile, VidAngel is pursuing its own countersuit in federal court. The suit accuses the studios of antitrust violations and seeks a declaration that VidAngel’s service is permitted under the Family Movie Act. VidAngel contends that its service engages in the lawful reselling of DVDs to consumers. Consumers can choose to obtain a physical copy of their DVD or stream it over the VidAngel site with offensive material filtered out, and can then “resell” the DVD back to VidAngel after watching the movie.
Birotte rejected each of VidAngel’s arguments in his injunction, finding that the studios are likely to prevail on the merits when the case goes to trial. In their statement to the court, the studios threatened to seek a finding that VidAngel is in contempt of court if the site does not shut down.
Update: VidAngel filed its own declaration today, asking for more time to modify its application in order to comply with the judge’s ruling. Among other technical issues, VidAngel contends that it cannot modify its Apple and Roku apps at the moment due to holiday blackout period. The company also states that it is trying to avoid the customer service nightmare that would ensue if it simply shut off all in-app purchases. The company estimates it will need until Jan. 5 to update its Apple app, and Jan. 25 to update its Roku app.
The company also faces another urgent problem, disclosing that its payment processor has threatened to sever relations as early as next week unless a stay of the injunction is granted.