Walmart introduces "Family Play" to censor movies and TV on Vudu
posted Saturday Sep 14, 2019 by Scott Ertz
Family-friendly content has always been a mucky topic. In the 90s, movie rental stores tried removing questionable content from movies, only to be sued by the movie studios. More recently, VidAngel tried to do the same thing, only with the added bonus of having stolen the movies in the first place. They also didn't fare well in a legal battle with the studios, being denied the "right" to sell pirated and altered movies.
None of this has stopped Vudu, the video streaming service owned by Walmart, from giving it another shot. This week, the company announced a new feature, Family Play, that removes scenes from movies to make them family-friendly. The service is launching with over 500 movies from major studios, including high profile titles like Aladdin and MIB International.
In contrast from VidAngel, Vudu already owns the films and the rights to stream the films, which starts them off in a better legal position. However, the fundamental underlying issue is whether or not altering the movies violates their streaming contracts, or in violation of copyright law. VidAngel's original argument involved the Family Home Movie Act of 2005, part of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which, according to Wikipedia, "permits the development of technology to "sanitize" potentially offensive DVD and VOD content."
Ultimately VidAngel lost because they didn't own the rights to the movies or to stream those films. Vudu, on the other hand, does already have contracts to stream the films and could argue that they have created technology to sanitize the content to make it family-friendly. It is also possible that they have already worked with the studios to provide this content in a filtered manner. This is a feature that families want, or we wouldn't see companies keep trying to provide it.
In addition to the filtered films, Vudu is also partnering with Common Sense Media to give "detailed information" about how appropriate any particular film is for kids.