The Business, Entrepreneurship & Tax Law Review

Article Title

The Fight to Filter: Navigating Copyrights to Legally Edit Films


Matthew Hodgson


Over the past two decades, a number of companies tried and failed to create a business model built upon editing (or filtering) movies for at-home viewers. Repeatedly, these entities encountered fatal obstacles—legal, business-related, or otherwise—in their endeavors to do so. Copyright protections proved to be the most difficult obstacle for these companies, and many filtering businesses infringed upon rights of reproduction, distribution, digital tampering, or first sale. These conflicts led to numerous litigations and legislative actions, culminating in the recent Disney Enterprises, Inc. v. VidAngel, Inc., a case that still has its effects playing out in courts and Congress. This article examines the copyright violations of past filtering endeavors and looks to find viable solutions that avoid the mistakes of the past, fit within copyright statutes, and offer a sustainable business model. Only by accomplishing all three of these tasks can any filtering service hope to survive in the future of the filtering market.