If you talked to me pretty much at all during the months of March and April of this year I’m sure I talked your ear off about the filtered streaming service VidAngel, and it’s battle against Hollywood’s major studios. I did not hold a kind view of VidAngel at that time, and while I still have some major gripes with some of their advertising and marketing I have to admit that their new business model is one that I can get behind.
For those unaware, before VidAngel got “shut down” users would effectively pay 1 dollar per film they wanted to watch through the service (2 dollars for HD versions) and you directly streamed from VidAngel. The new model is a monthly subscription (7.99/month) that uses the VidAngel filtering in conjunction with your Netflix, Amazon, or HBO subscription. So in order to use VidAngel you also need to have a subscription to one of these other streaming services.
This solves the critical legal problem that VidAngel previously had in that almost none of the movies offered on the platform were licensed and therefore were being streamed illegally according to several major Hollywood studios. (Warner Bros, Fox, Disney, ya know little guys) VidAngel believed that the Family Movie Act of 2005 protected them, but that’s not so clear, hence the lawsuit that VidAngel is still fighting with Hollywood. Since the content being watched is coming straight from services like Netflix it’s all licensed and on the up and up. Now people are again able to remove any nasty or unpleasant material from Game of Thrones, (So the episodes are like 6 minutes each) they just have to actually pay HBO for it.
The switch to a monthly subscription is something that doesn’t really have any legal impact, but I’m still really fond of it because it’s so so so much simpler than the old model of buying a movie for twenty bucks and then getting nineteen dollars back so long as I “returned” the movie within a 48 (maybe 24, I don’t remember) hours period so that VidAngel could technically say that I “owned” the movie because they legally couldn’t call it renting even though the model was very obviously a renting model.
VidAngel isn’t totally out of the woods yet though, as I mentioned they do still have a legal battle with the major Hollywood studios that will have to be dealt with and while they are in a much better spot legally they are at least partially at the whims of streaming services like Netflix who have not given their blessing according to this article from Variety. Other streaming services could alter their services to prevent VidAngel from filtering their content. Although personally I’m inclined to think that companies like Netflix are unwilling to give their blessing at this time has more to do with the currently still open lawsuit and not as much about the new filtering model.
Never the less this is a big step forward for VidAngel and a win for anyone who wants their media filtered. Peace out folks.