We all understand the regret and disappointment of unsuccessfully keeping movie night family-friendly.

Everyone loves family movie night, but if it feels like there aren’t many suitable movies or TV shows for families to watch, it’s because there really aren’t many suitable movies or TV shows for families to watch. Virtually every movie and show, even the ones meant for children, includes some sort of objectionable content. The search for a family-friendly movie feels hopeless, and the idea of self-filtering through muting and yelling “cover your eyes!” makes parents want to “unplug” forever.

Enter VidAngel

That’s why, in 2005, the folks at VidAngel sought to help make more wholesome entertainment easier for families by offering a way to filter out unwanted content. Here’s how it originally worked – customers purchased the movie from VidAngel for $20, customers then selected what content to filter out, customers watched the movie without the content they didn’t want to see, then customers sold the movie back to VidAngel for $19.

What’s the reason for buying the movie for $20 and selling it back for $19, you may ask? Well, on-demand streaming services like Netflix are required to have a license to offer material produced by Hollywood mega-studios. VidAngel sought a way around purchasing the licenses through the buying-selling gimmick. Larry Iser of Forbes Magazine explains it well, if not a bit sarcastically:

“So how does VidAngel avoid those expensive license fees, enabling it to offer movies for a buck? Well, VidAngel denies that it is a streaming service at all. Rather than obtain expensive licenses to stream the studios’ content, VidAngel says it goes out and purchases thousands of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, which it then claims to ‘sell’ to its customers under the so-called ‘First Sale Doctrine,’ a copyright provision which permits purchasers of authorized copies of copyrighted works to sell or otherwise dispose of their copies without obtaining a license from the copyright owner. Here’s how VidAngel’s copyright end-run works: Once a VidAngel customer ‘purchases’ a disc, VidAngel claims that the disc is no longer ‘available for sale.’ VidAngel then streams ‘the film associated with the physical media’ to the customer, who may then use VidAngel’s filters to block the offensive content. Presumably, when the customer ‘sells’ the disc back to VidAngel, that disc becomes ‘unsold’ and is now once again ‘for sale.’”

As expected, the Hollywood giants didn’t appreciate VidAngel’s ingenuity and leveled a lawsuit against the filtering service. VidAngel relied on the Family Movie Act of 2005 to claim legality. The Act protects the creation of technology to censor unwanted material.

Unfortunately for VidAngel and advocates of filtering, the service lost the initial round, and the court ordered VidAngel to remove all movies and TV shows from its website. However, VidAngel is now revamping with a new service to help protect you and your family from Hollywood entertainment grime.

Instead of purchasing movies and TV shows directly from their website, VidAngel now connects to Netflix and other similar streaming accounts to allow customers to filter material from those sites. For the time being, VidAngel continues its goal to “simply provide families the opportunity to filter the content Hollywood provides and make it suitable for their family.”

Why Use VidAngel?

We all understand the regret and disappointment of unsuccessfully keeping movie night family-friendly, but here’s a quick reminder of why it’s important to try.

We all know children’s thoughts, actions and beliefs are shaped by what they see and hear on TV. Research shows that earlier and increased exposure to sex, violence, drugs, alcohol and profanity leads to increased activity in each of these areas. In the most basic terms – what your children see and hear is often what they will do and say.

In a time when society and Hollywood works tirelessly to normalize inappropriate views of sex, violence, drugs, alcohol, profanity and so forth, it’s good to assess what shapes your child’s beliefs on a daily basis and minimize the harmful influences. VidAngel helps parents accomplish that goal.

Imagine the peace of mind of knowing that your kids won’t accidently see sexual content or won’t accidently hear cursing during movie night or anytime they are on a streaming service.

Give VidAngel a try next time – it’ll be good for you and your family!

Briley Hughes

Briley Hughes

Communications Director


Never miss a story. Sign up for our weekly email newsletter.