Federal judge blocks Utah-based VidAngel from filtering movies

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has granted a temporary injunction requested by major Hollywood studios, blocking the Utah-based movie filtering service VidAngel from carrying out core functions.

In an order issued Monday night and obtained by FOX 13, U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. sided with Disney, LucasFilm, 20th Century FOX and Warner Bros., and granted a preliminary injunction.

“The Plaintiffs (studios) have provided uncontroverted evidence that VidAngel operates their service without a license, and offers Plaintiff’s works during exclusivity periods that Plaintiff negotiated with licensees,” he wrote.

The judge’s order blocked VidAngel from streaming or using any methods of “circumventing technological measures protecting Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works on DVDs, Blu-ray discs, or any other medium.”

Read the order here:

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It was unclear if the order meant VidAngel must cease its video streaming and filtering service immediately, but the injunction is only for the duration of the civil lawsuit.

In a statement to FOX 13, VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon said they would appeal.

“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. Previously, such a decision has signaled the end of the legal battle,” he wrote. “As such, 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 Supreme Court, but the financial resources as well. We will aggressively pursue an appeal and take this case to a higher level where we have always believed we will ultimately prevail.”

Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century FOX and Warner Bros. studios sued VidAngel, accusing it of violating its copyrights with its movie filtering service. VidAngel offers a subscription service where its customers buy movies through it and they are streamed online, with parts deemed offense filtered out. VidAngel has a countersuit going against the studios.

The company has repeatedly insisted that it is operating within the boundaries of federal copyright law. Last month, VidAngel published a video explaining how it believes its service is legal.

Watch the video here:

Read the order from the judge here: