On Tuesday, ClearPlay, a Salt Lake City-based company that streams filtered Hollywood films, confirmed with Deadline that Google has prevented the service from streaming any new movies since the fall.
“ClearPlay filtering continues to work with stream content available through Google Play, except for new movie releases. We have been relying on certain programming interfaces that are no longer available through Google Play,” ClearPlay co-founder and CEO Matthew Jarman said in a statement.
Jarman said in the statement that he expects new releases will come later in 2017 with the help of a major streaming service provider.
VidAngel attorney David Quinto told the Deseret News that “this is major news” that will have ramifications in the ongoing court case between VidAngel and four Hollywood studios — Disney, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 20th Century Fox Film Corporation and Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC — which say VidAngel violated copyright laws by streaming films without permission.
In that case, VidAngel argued that the company had the right to edit streamed films through the Family Movie Act, Quinto said.
But in December, Judge Andre Birotte Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Los Angeles issued an injunction against the streaming service, citing ClearPlay as a service that filters content correctly.
Birotte wrote in his decision that ClearPlay observed the law correctly, unlike VidAngel.
“An injunction in this case would not prevent VidAngel or any other company from providing a filtering service similar to ClearPlay’s, and thus wouldn’t negatively impact the public interest in watching filtered content in private,” Birotte wrote, according to Deadline.
As a result of the decision, VidAngel halted its streaming service at the end of December, company CEO Neal Harmon said in a statement.
“There’s a federal law that says you can stream filtered movies,” Harmon told Variety. “But today, there’s absolutely no way to do so. The studios got what they wanted.”
According to Quinto, ClearPlay hasn’t streamed new movies since September, and that contradicts information the studios provided the courts back in December. Google made changes to its policies in regards to filtered streaming which took effect in September 2016, he said.
“New information reveals that there is no way anyone can filter and stream new Hollywood movies today and that the evidence to the contrary the studios gave the court was in fact incorrect,” Harmon said in a statement.
VidAngel learned of this development after a ClearPlay customer informed VidAngel that he or she could not find new movies on ClearPlay's website.
“We checked ClearPlay’s site and verified that no new movie has been added since September 2016. The last available streamed movies were ‘Ghostbusters’ (published in early September) and ‘Independence Day’ (published in August). No movies posted since then are streaming enabled. That had escaped our notice during trial because older videos were still up and running,” according to VidAngel's statement.
Quinto said he hopes people who want to stream family-friendly and filtered content in private contact Congress.
“Let them know that the Family Movie Act has been disabled entirely,” he said.
Quinto said VidAngel asked studios on Tuesday to inform the court it was wrong about ClearPlay. Quinto also said they’re deciding whether or not to allow the current case to settle in the court of appeals or take it to trial.