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Judge Grants Studios Injunction Against Streaming Service Using Filtering Technology

12 Dec, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A federal judge Dec. 12 granted Hollywood studios a preliminary injunction against a streaming rental video service that filters movies and TV shows of adult subject matter and foul language.

Judge Andre Birotte Jr. granted Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm preliminary injunction against VidAngel.com, citing the studios’ claim of irreparable harm if the streaming service was allowed to circumvent provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by altering and/or illegally copying copyrighted material for commercial purposes without consent.

VidAngel enables users to filter language, nudity, violence and other content from more than 2,500 DVD movies and TV shows, whose content has been digitally copied to a database. The digital files are tagged for more than 80 types of potentially objectionable material.

VidAngel, which is appealing the decision, contends it has the right to do this under both the Fair Use Doctrine and 2005 Family Movie Act — the latter allowing a consumer to digitally censor store-bought content for private use in the home.

“While we are extremely disappointed — for the countless people who rely on our service regularly to enjoy movies using filters — our customers have given us not just the mandate to fight this battle all the way to the [U.S.] Supreme Court, but the financial resources as well,” Neal Harmon, CEO of VidAngel, said in a statement.

With a GOP-controlled Congress and president-elect Donald Trump vowing to name a conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court, VidAngel could find a sympathetic court going forward — should the case go that far.

“Hollywood studios have followed a repeated pattern in their decades-long campaign to put movie filtering services out of business by seeking a shut-down decision in trial court,” Harmon said. “Previously, such a decision has signaled the end of the legal battle. [But] we will aggressively pursue an appeal and take this case to a higher level where we have always believed we will ultimately prevail.”

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