Family-Friendly Video Service Fined $62.4 Million in Los Angeles Lawsuit

Neal Harmon, VidAngel CEO pledged that “I disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota."

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Times describes VidAngel as “the latest in a long line of companies that have attempted to build a business by skipping and muting objectionable material for family viewing, only to provoke lawsuits from Hollywood.”

On Monday, June 17, a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ruled against VidAngel and fined the video filtering service $62.4 million which it must pay in reparation for damages to the plaintiffs, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm.

There is more than a little irony in accusations brought against VidAngel in a courtroom in the City of Angels. It should remind us that our battle is never against flesh and blood, but against “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesian 6:12 NLT)

VidAngel describes its service as “a way to skip or mute things you don’t want to see or hear in movies and TV shows.” The service offers viewers an array of filtering options that automatically block profanity, racial slurs, nudity, graphic violence, and disturbing images. The choice of what to filter is left entirely to the viewer.

The movie industry sued, not on the grounds of whether services or viewers have the right to filter content as produced, but rather that VidAngel willfully committed copyright infringement. VidAngel legal counsel admitted that the company may have committed “innocent infringement” and argued, therefore, that the $120 million settlement requested by the plaintiffs be significantly reduced.

The judge ruled that the defendant had not participated in any intentional wrongdoing. However, many who have been following the case may assume VidAngel acted fraudulently because they have been assessed a substantial fine.

Tim Winter, the President of the Parents Television Council, spent a week in the courtroom. He claimed to be “absolutely baffled by the jury’s conclusion that VidAngel’s actions were willful violations of the copyright law.”

He added, “Multiple witnesses in the case testified about the company’s efforts to comply with each and every word of the Family Movie Act. These are not the actions of some copyright pirate, as the attorneys for Disney successfully painted them out to be during the trial.”

Winter fears that the court’s decision could be “the death knell” for content filtering.

To VidAngel’s credit, CEO Neal Harmon pledged that,

“I disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota. VidAngel plans to appeal . . . and explore options. Our court system has checks and balances.”

This case is another example of the spiritual battles that are being waged against those who strive to maintain purity in a wicked and perverse generation where evil is called good and good is called evil.

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