clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

VidAngel's new filtering service could expose Hollywood's 'trojan horse,' Parents Television Council president says

Parents Television Council president Tim Winter sees Provo-based company VidAngel’s new filtering service not only as an opportunity to provide family-friendly content but also as a way to potentially unveil Hollywood’s true intent.

The Deseret News reported Tuesday that VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon announced the company has launched a new streaming service that allows viewers to watch filtered Netflix, Amazon and HBO content by signing into their streaming service account and using VidAngel to filter the movies and television shows.

The new model comes in response to the ongoing lawsuit filed against VidAngel by four major Hollywood studios claiming the streaming company violated copyright laws. According to the Deseret News, VidAngel’s previous model allowed viewers to stream films, both older films as well as those recently released on DVD, and edit out portions of a film based on user-selected settings. Users paid $20 to buy movies from VidAngel, which then paid $19 to buy the film back.

Winter, however, said in an interview with the Deseret News that he sees the lawsuit as an attack against filtering.

“The studios said that their objection was that VidAngel didn’t have authorized copies of the content to stream,” said Winter. “I disagree with that proposition, but that’s for the judges to determine.”

He said because VidAngel now allows viewers who subscribe to the streaming services — and therefore have authorized copies of the content — to apply the filters, if the studios fight against the new system as well, it will show what they are truly fighting about.

“If the studios object to this new service, then the facade is gone, the Trojan horse has been exposed for what it is: that this is truly about the studios being willing to have their content filtered,” he said. “My guess is (the studios are) going to try to kill (the new VidAngel service) and that exposes them for the dishonesty that I believe they have been spewing for months and years. They don’t want filtering ever allowed — ever — and it will be interesting to see (what happens).”

Winter said he first heard of VidAngel about a year ago and asked one of his fellow staffers at the Parents Television Council to look into it. According to PTC’s website, the organization seeks to “protect children and families from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media, because of their proven long-term harmful effects,” and when the staffer found VidAngel to be an effective tool for filtering out objectionable content, PTC offered praise about the service.

“We have a history of supporting any technological remedy that helps parents in furtherance of the PTC’s mission,” Winter said.

And when Winter heard about the legal battle between the studios and VidAngel, he offered unsolicited support to the filtering service, which PTC had done with other organizations such as ClearPlay. Winters wrote opinion pieces for news organizations, filed an amicus brief with the court and encouraged members of PTC to show their support.

“It’s been a relationship where what they are doing is so firmly in alignment with our mission that I feel it is an obligation for the Parent’s Television Council to encourage VidAngel, just as we did ClearPlay a dozen years ago,” Winter said.

Winter met Harmon for the first time at last week’s proceedings in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California, where Variety reports VidAngel asked for the injunction preventing them from streaming movies to be lifted.

As for Tuesday’s announcement, Winter, who was present at the event in Provo introducing the new service, said he and his colleagues at PTC were pleased to hear the news.

“If you start purely from a mission standpoint, we could not be happier, more thrilled, with what we heard last night,” he said.