Judge rules against VidAngel request on new filtering service

Posted at 6:35 PM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 21:25:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ruled against Utah-based movie filtering service VidAngel again.

In an order handed down Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. canceled a hearing scheduled August 4 and ruled against VidAngel.

Judge Birotte’s order noted that he previously ruled against VidAngel and blocked them from filtering movies streamed through their subscription service. Then, he said, VidAngel developed a new filtering service for films on licensed streaming services (like Netflix, HBO Go, Roku, etc.)

“VidAngel contends that their new service does not violate the Court’s preliminary injunction order, and now seeks a declaration from the Court to that effect,” he wrote.

In the order, Judge Birotte did not address the merits of VidAngel’s request to allow the new filtering service to go forward. Instead, he ruled on a procedural issue. The ruling only affects works by the studios suing the company. The filtering service remains operational.

A screen grab of VidAngel’s latest service offering to filter shows from Netflix, Amazon and HBO.

“VidAngel’s request for a declaration that their new service doesn’t violate the Court’s order is essentially an action for a declaratory judgment and is not appropriate for resolution in a motion to clarify. As briefly discussed above, the Court will necessarily have to decide whether VidAngel’s service complies with several sections of the Copyright Act in order to determine whether it also complies with the preliminary injunction. Thus VidAngel basically seeks a declaration of non-infringement,” the judge wrote.

In a statement, VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon said they were evaluating the decision.

“Judge Birotte’s denial of VidAngel’s motion today was based purely on procedural grounds and not on the merits of our case. Our attorneys are evaluating the decision and will decide next steps in the near future. It is important for everyone to note that this does not affect VidAngel’s new system, which is fully up and running, it simply delays our ability to provide customers with content created by the plaintiffs,” he said in an emailed statement to FOX 13.

VidAngel has been sued by Warner Bros., Twentieth Century FOX, Disney and LucasFilm accusing it of violating their copyrights by filtering objectionable content like language, sex, nudity and violence from their films. VidAngel has argued it is not violating copyright laws, because customers physically own the discs that are filtered when they order through the online-based service.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals right now is considering VidAngel’s appeal of the original injunction issued by the judge.

Read the judge’s order here: