Friday, July 23, 2004

Family Movie Act on the move

The House Judiciary Subcommittee voted 18-9 in favor of the Family Movie Act (a.k.a. the "Clearplay Act"). The FMA still has to go up for a vote in the full House. There is no similar bill being considered in the Senate at the moment.

Basically, the Family Movie Act will allow people to modify movies as they watch them from DVDs in order to edit out the "bad" parts. The main company behind the whole situation is the Utah based Clearplay, which sell special DVD players that skip over the naughty bits of movies. Although the idea sounds like some sort of censorship by choice, or just a kind of religion-driven bit of silliness; the important point that the FMA makes is that people can use the media they purchase however they want to. That is considered by many to be a good thing for all consumers. Of course copyright holders do not like consumers being able to manipulate their media because, understandably, they want to retain control of how content is used even after it's purchase.

ClearPlay is currently involved in a law suit with several Hollywood directors and industry groups, the case is called Huntsman v. Soderbergh.

The measure's author, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said the legislation guarantees that parents will be free to use technology to protect what children watch. He compared skipping objectionable scenes in a movie to skipping paragraphs in a book. "Parents should have a right to show any movie they want and skip or mute any content they find objectionable," Smith said.
Critics of the bill argued that it is aimed at helping one company, Utah-based ClearPlay Inc., whose technology is used in some DVD players to help parents filter inappropriate material by muting dialogue or skipping scenes. ClearPlay sells filters for hundreds of movies that can be added to such DVD players for $4.95 each month ... Hollywood executives have complained that ClearPlay's technology represents unauthorized editing of their movies. They maintain that ClearPlay should pay them licensing fees for altering their creative efforts.

Article quoted from here. ClearPlay's site here. Background on the situation here. The legal briefs and press releases from the ClearPlay case are available from the EFF here.


Anonymous dredre said...

family movie act more than on the move.
It was passed today, and I couldn't be any more pessimistic about it's intentions.
I sort of feel like the most defensible portion of copyright is it's defense of the author...

4/28/2005 5:25 PM  

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