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Hollywood wins major ruling against family-friendly censor VidAngel

Several Hollywood studios have persuaded a judge to grant an injunction against the family-friendly video streaming service VidAngel, which censors explicit content in movies for its customers.

Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Disney filed suit against the Utah-based company earlier this year, arguing that its practice of editing out content that viewers might find objectionable is a violation of copyright law. Federal judge Andre Birotte Jr. granted the motion for an injunction on Monday.


Should the ruling stand, VidAngel would have to remove studio content from the service. VidAngel said in a blog post that it plans to appeal the ruling.

Part of the reason studios are especially antsy about VidAngel is because they fear it could affect their bottom line. Users actually pay $20 for a physical disc through VidAngel, which then streams a cleansed version. After viewing, the viewer sells it back to the company for $19, meaning they’ve effectively paid $1 to watch a movie.

As the Hollywood Reporter pointed out, streaming certain movies (like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) before they’ve been released on services like Netflix “could undercut [Hollywood’s] windowing system.”

VidAngel, meanwhile, called the injunction just “the first battle in a long war.” The startup, launched in 2014, says it has raised $10 million from investors and customers for its legal costs.

“We will launch an immediate appeal,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon said in a blog post. “And unlike previous filtering companies, we have the funds to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court.”