Frontline Hollywood Legal Mind Makes a Strong Case for VidAngel
By Diane Howard, Ph.D., Contributing Writer
Vital culture issues are at stake in a current Hollywood case. In an exclusive interview with David W. Quinto, it is clear that he is defending a critical case with essential issues for consumers and our culture, as he joins VidAngel as its General Counsel. With more than three decades of experience, Quinto is recognized for representing Hollywood studios, which include two of the plaintiffs in the VidAngel case. Further, he is known for protecting the ©Oscar ® and ACADEMY AWARDS® and for representing the Producers Guild of America. Now for VidAngel and consumers, he is protecting America.
VidAngel is the market-leading entertainment service that empowers consumers to filter language, nudity, violence, and other potentially harmful content from movies and TV shows. It now announces that legendary Hollywood intellectual property attorney David W. Quinto, who was a long partner at powerhouse firms Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, has joined VidAngel as its general counsel.
Mr. Quinto is spearheading the defense of a lawsuit brought by four major Hollywood studios hoping to enjoin VidAngel from continuing to offer its filtering service to the public. For them, his practice focused on copyright, trademark, trade secret, unfair competition, and Internet-based cases.
Neal Harmon, CEO of VidAngel says, “David’s decision to join VidAngel as General Counsel represents the single most significant development in the case to date. Having successfully represented iconic Hollywood institutions…as well as clients dealing with cutting edge Internet legal issues, there is no one better suited to oversee our legal strategy… David wrote the original legal opinion upon which VidAngel’s business model is based, and today’s announcement demonstrates his full confidence that values consumers seeking to filter content will prevail in court.”
Mr. Quinto says, “It is a privilege to be asked by VidAngel to focus on winning a landmark copyright case sure to make new law. I am confident that the studios have overreached by trying to enjoin a service expressly authorized by Congress for the protection of children, and I look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate that in court.”
Respected Los Angeles law firm Baker Marquart LLP will continue to represent VidAngel in defending the lawsuit recently brought against the Utah-based company by Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., and Lucasfilm, and in prosecuting VidAngel’s antitrust claim against them. Mr. Quinto will oversee all aspects of the case. VidAngel chose Baker Marquart based on the firm’s litigation successes, including the recent landmark ruling in the Central District of California that FilmOn was entitled to the compulsory license enjoyed by large cable companies that deal with TV networks. The opposing parties in that case included ABC (a division of Disney) and Fox.
Here are portions of the interview with David W. Quinto concerning the VidAngel case:
Q: What is the background of this case?
Mr. Quinto: In 2005 Congress passed an act to balance the interests of motion
picture artists and consumers. The Family Entertainment and Copyright
Act became law in 2005. The Act consists of two balanced parts: the Artist’s Rights and
Theft Prevention Act of 2005, which increased penalties for copyright infringement, and
the Family Home Movie Act of 2005, which authorized the development and use of
technology to filter potentially offensive DVD and VOD content.
Q: What are some of the basic arguments Family Entertainment and
Copyright Act of 2005 addressed?
Mr. Quinto: Major motion picture studios and the Directors Guild have argued that
movies are works of art and that creators of art should have the right to control their art.
Congress has clarified that their art is commercial art that it is commonly modified in
various ways such as in cropping frames for TV or adjusting content for airplanes.
Congress provided protection for studios such as in their limitations that consumers can’t
make fixed copies of filtered works and can’t perform filtered work in theaters. Congress
has provided protection for consumers such as by leaving the filter specification to the
discretion of families while permitting private viewing.
Q: Does VidAngel work within the guidelines of The Family Entertainment and
Copyright Act of 2005?
Mr. Quinto: VidAngel is doing exactly what this act requires. A third party can stream
filtered movies but can’t make fixed or bootleg copies. VidAngel works within both the
letter and intent of the law. Consumers lawfully purchase a DVD or Blu-Ray and then
choose what they want filtered. VidAngel streams the content to them precisely as they
have requested. The consumer makes no copy of filtered work.
Q: Does VidAngel serve the studios as well as consumers?
Mr. Quinto: From its inception to date approximately a third of VidAngel’s total revenue
have gone to buying studio movie discs. VidAngel consumers are now watching movies
from discs they would not otherwise buy. The art of the studios is preserved. Consumers
can still purchase unfiltered versions of their art.
Q: Did Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 anticipate issues of
decryption and encryption?
Mr. Quinto: The Family Movie Act of 2005 anticipated these issues. Congress
knew that everything on a DVD would be decrypted, a copy would be made,
and third party streaming would be involved. The act says nothing about
licenses, decryption, or encryption.
Q: How does VidAngel handle decryption and encryption?
Mr. Quinto: To provide the service authorized by the Family Movie Act of
2005, VidAngel necessarily decrypt discs then make unencrypted copy, which is tagged
for over 80 types of content. The consumer then purchases a physical disc in one on one
transaction with VidAngel. Under the Family Movie Act, a service provider is not
required to buy a license to stream content because consumers have purchased discs.
The consumer should not be double charged, first to buy a disc and second to watch it.
Q: What are issues with studios over decryption?
Mr. Quinto: The studios want to make it unlawful for VidAngel to decrypt and
make a copy of a disc, as is necessary to filter and stream content. If the studios
succeed, Family Home Movie Act will be rendered largely meaningless.
Q: What is VidAngel’s response to the studio issues about decryption and copies?
Mr. Quinto: Under VidAngel’s service a family must lawfully own a disc and
the filtering must be at the direction of the family without permanent copy being
made. That is all the statute requires and that is what VidAngel does. The studios want
to read other requirements into the statute but that make no sense.
Q: In suing VidAngel, are the studios challenging Family Entertainment and
Copyright Act of 2005?
Mr. Quinto: Yes, they are trying to nullify the most important part of Family
Movie Act of 2005.
Q: Are studios seeking to prevent consumer filtering of their content?
Mr. Quinto: Yes, they want to have sole authority over adjustments of their
content, and they don’t want families to watch unfiltered content at home.
David Quinto, a veteran intellectual property attorney, with over 33 years of experience, is representing VidAngel and protecting consumers, their families, and their culture. His practice focuses on copyright, trademark, trade dress, trade secret, unfair competition, and Internet-related matters, as well as general commercial litigation. Over the past three decades, David has successfully represented a broad range of prominent clients. Quinto is the co-author of the national practitioner’s guide to trade secret litigation, Trade Secrets: Law and Practice. He is also the author of Law of Internet Disputes.
VidAngel is the market-leading entertainment provider which empowers users to filter language, nudity, violence, and other content from movies and TV shows. VidAngel has earned a #1 BestCompany.com user rating. It is one of the fastest growing entertainment companies in the U.S. To see how consumers can watch movies filtered to their discretion see their brief YouTube video. To see what is at stake in this case, see another powerful You Tube video that makes a strong visual case ironically without words about the growth and harmful assault on families from the first swear word in cinema in 1939 to our present day.
It is clear that what is at stake in this case is Congress’ Family Entertainment and Copyright Act that protects consumers from harmful content and gives them the choice to filter content according to their discretion. Consumers can support VidAngel with written comments sent to Support@VidAngel.com . Consumers can describe why this service is important and/or why it is undesirable to take away filtered content. Consumers can also make contributions to this case. Messages and even small contributions provide evidence that VidAngel’s service is in the public interest- a factor the judge must consider in ruling on the studios’ injunction request. Send your signs of support to Support@VidAngel.com .