PROVO, Utah — Independent streaming company VidAngel recently announced its new filtering collaboration with Netflix, HBO, and Amazon in which it offers safe filtering for families everywhere. And since the company was sued by Disney and other major Studios in the past, VidAngel's legal rep maintains that Hollywood doesn't care about family values.
VidAngel was shut down by a court order in December 2016 after some of the biggest names in the film industry — Walt Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros — sued the small company over violation of copyright law.
VidAngel, which filters TV and movies in an effort to make them suitable for families, decided to fight back. It launched a campaign to raise money for legal fees, raising a staggering $10 million in just days. Now with a fully customer-funded legal defense, it is working with elected officials and organizations in Washington, D.C., to seek a resolution.
The company's appellate attorney, Peter K. Stris, is known for mostly handling progressive issues but the self-proclaimed "center-left" representative say's he's fully on board with supporting this conservative battle and believes VidAngel will come out on top.
"To me, this is not a political issue. Families should have the right to skip over muted portions of movies," Stris told The Christian Post during an "Investors Event" at the Dry Bar in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday.
"The fight now really is over basically what kind of control do the studios have."
The spokesperson said the case is really important because he believes the studios use encryption on their disc as a way to control what families can and cannot do with their purchases.
"The thing that is most frustrating about this is that if they want to have a fight with us over the legal issue on which there can be two sides then ok that's what I do. But let's make it about what the real issue is. They keep obscuring the issue by making it look like we're stealing something," he said. "VidAngel is buying thousands of discs and there is a one to one ratio of the physical disc just like Redbox."
"I think there's two real issues: there's a money issue and a political issue. The money issue is, studios want to sell discs and they also want to have the right to have them streamed. The second real issue is control," Stris continued.
He said VidAngel's new relaunch now with respected licensed streaming sites will bring the real issue to the forefront.
"They are going to find some other reason to object which is going to bring the other real issue forward, which is they don't want filtering!" he declared. "Let me say something about this as someone who is left of center and who is in L.A.: The studios don't care."
The executive director of Protect Family Rights, Bill Aho, who has linked arms with VidAngel, agreed with Stris.
"The culture of Hollywood has never been sympathetic to the values of most America, and in fact, I think they've consistently shown some type of antagonism towards it," he explained to CP. "They are saying it's ok if the Chinese edit my movie because my friends don't see that, but I don't want anybody that I know or associate with to see a movie without all that content in it."
Tim Winter, president of The Parents Television Council, echoed Aho.
"There's a pattern that goes back decades. Families don't have the ability to make the decision for themselves what they want to have in their own homes even. Can a director in Hollywood tell you in a movie theater, 'You can not close your eyes and plug your ears because you're ruining his art?'" Winter illustrated. "That's basically what we're saying here — we're allowing a parent to in essence digitally close your eyes and plugs your ears for a fraction of a second."
"You have science to show that this is harmful to children and it backs up a parent's instinct that something that goes into a child's mind that is corrupt is going to produce corruption," he concluded.
VidAngel argues that Hollywood is saturated with nudity, violence, and profanity, making it impossible for children to view films without being exposed to content that is not fitting for them.
The streaming company maintains that it does "not believe in censorship." Instead, its goal is to simply provide families the opportunity to filter the content Hollywood provides and make it suitable for their family.
As a way to cater to the faith-based community, it also provides the option to filter scenes in a film that use the Lord's name in vain, along with the option to filter out adult content.
The small company, founded in 2015 by a group of brothers (Neal, Daniel, Jeffrey, and Jordan Harmon), first drew national attention after being smacked with the lawsuit from the Hollywood studios.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal heard the company's appeal last week and has yet to rule.
Donald Verrilli, who represented the Hollywood studios, argued that VidAngel is "an unlicensed on-demand streaming service that lacks any legal justification and is totally unfair to us and to licensed streaming services."
VidAngel, which has invoked the Family Movie Act of 2005 in its defense, is now moving full speed ahead by continuing to create original content through VidAngel Studios and has committed to their new undertaking with Netflix, HBO and Amazon.
The company confidently declared "VidAngel is back" during its big announcement on Tuesday before a Facebook Live audience of 50,000 and a room full of fans. VidAngel is hoping this new filtering collaboration will help Hollywood relinquish control and allow families the freedom to determine what they watch.
VidAngel connects to streaming accounts such as Netflix, Amazon and HBO and allows their customers to filter the content they are already paying for. When new episodes come out on those platforms, VidAngel will also provide a filtered version of it within just 24 hours of their release.
The latest filtering system will be accessible on any major device for $7.99 a month with the first month free.
For more information, visit VidAngel.com. View the live announcement from the "Investors Event" below.
To keep safe filtering around, sign a petition on Savefiltering.com