“You are still here ?” : VidAngel relaunches after 4 years of legal battle

Employees work at the VidAngel office in Provo on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. After a lengthy legal battle with the Hollywood giants and spending the better part of two years out of the public eye, the video filtering services company is relaunched under new ownership. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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PROVO — After a long legal battle with the Hollywood giants and spending the better part of two years out of the public eye, Provo-based video filtering service VidAngel is relaunching under new ownership.

The revival was led by a new “Dirty Dog” advertising campaign which features a witty yet gruff talking dog showcasing the services of VidAngel.

VidAngel is a filter company that allows users to remove objectionable or profane content from popular movies and TV shows streaming on popular platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and AppleTV+, among others.

In June 2016, Disney, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, and Lucasfilm filed a lawsuit against VidAngel, claiming the company grossly violated copyright law by circumventing “technological protective measures on DVDs and DVDs.” Blu-ray discs” to create unauthorized streaming copies of movies and TV shows.

After a tumultuous four-year battle, a $62.4 million judgment in a 2020 copyright lawsuit against VidAngel has been dramatically reduced to $9.9 million in damages in a regulation.

“It’s a question we get all the time, it’s like, ‘Hey, are you still there?'” said Bill Aho, CEO of VidAngel.

Indeed, they still are.

“People remember lawsuits, they remember litigation, and they remember VidAngel was fighting long odds,” Aho said.

In addition to staying out of the news cycle, Aho noted that the company actually went through “difficult times,” where the future was precarious.

Since signing the settlement agreement in 2020, Aho purchased the company from Neal Harmon in March 2021, securing the screening assets and business with all former employees remaining with a new owner.

“It was a business that was no longer encumbered with litigation. It was a business that we felt had a loyal customer base and customer base and which we felt had been a bit neglected,” he said. declared. “It actually worked really well. We took over this business, we kept all our employees and we started investing in it.”

Those investments came in engineering, the product as a whole, customer support, and spreading the word of VidAngel through marketing like the “Dirty Dog” campaign.

So far, Aho said these investments are paying dividends.

In the first year under Aho’s ownership, the company doubled its subscriber base and it is planning another great year this year.

He said it was fair to describe VidAngel’s return from hibernation as a “revival”.

All studios were given the opportunity to participate and most of them chose not to, so we’re quite comfortable that anyone with concerns or complaints was given the opportunity to express them and participate in litigation if they see fit.

–Bill Aho, CEO of VidAngel

“It’s a relaunch in that it’s the first really big ad we’ve done since we parted ways with the company,” Aho said.

As for the “Dirty Dog” campaign, Aho said it was unique in that Harmon Brothers – a Provo-based advertising agency Harmon co-founded – allowed VidAngel to be involved in the process.

“Most agencies don’t, and I’ve worked with many great agencies in New York and on the West Coast over the years,” Aho said. “It was great fun to watch the sausage being made.”

Still, the question remains: how will VidAngel continue to operate as a video filtering service without running into similar legal issues as it did six years ago?

Aho is convinced that the legal issues that have dogged VidAngel in the past are just that – in the past.

“All studios were given the opportunity to participate and most of them chose not to, so we are quite comfortable that anyone with concerns or complaints has been given the opportunity. to broadcast them and participate in litigation if they see fit,” Aho said.

So far, he said the company has not heard any complaints since the litigation ended. He even went so far as to say that eventually VidAngel hopes to partner with Hollywood studios.

“I think it makes perfect sense to them,” Aho said. “In the meantime, we will continue to operate our business as we have. Consumers tell us it is working quite well.”

He said that VidAngel releases new content every week as it comes from different streaming services.

“It was fun,” Aho said. “We look forward to continued growth.”

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Logan Stefanich is a reporter for KSL.com, covering Southern Utah communities, education, business, and military news.

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