VidAngel, the Mormon video streamer, has returned seemingly in defiance of an injunction issued by a federal judge in California last December. VidAngel essentially streams movies and cable shows to customers who can apply various filters to remove material that is objectionable to conservative Christians. Depending upon the source this might be profanity, nudity, LGBT presence or any of a number of filters. The bottom line is that (despite a convoluted scheme of DVD purchases and returns) VidAngel is copying and re-selling copyrighted works without permission. Hence, the injunction.

VidAngel now believes that it has circumvented the preliminary injunction by switching from a per-view rental to all you can view for a monthly fee of $7.99. They have added Netflix, HBO and Amazon video to their service.

The studios that originally sued VidAngel are highly skeptical that the new service provides for the purchase of a per-view license or copy. They also cite previous misstatement and omissions by VidAngel (lying for Jesus is apparently approved). It would appear that VidAngel is streaming from a master copy which would violate the injunction.

My guess is that the original plaintiffs (Disney, LucasFilm, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.) are going to be joined by Amazon, HBO and Netflix in court.

VidAngel claims that the studios’ objection is to filtering. That is a lie. They know perfectly well that the objection is to theft of copyrighted material which results in a loss of revenues. For example, unless VidAngel can validate that their customers are also paying customers of HBO or Netflix then offering them content would violate HBO and Netflix rights. In the case of Amazon they would have to purchase each video for each customer and then stream filtered content. It doesn’t seem possible at $7.99 per month for all you can eat. One or two Amazon rentals would wipe them out. The only way that this could be viable is to stream from master copies of each video rented only once.

VidAngel is financed in part by Focus on the Family. CEO Neal Harmon is a bright guy (graduated BYU in 2001). He is also, in my opinion, a crass criminal.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.