Intellectual "Property" in the Digital Age
Frank Field
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-REC Directors Counter-Sue Movie Bowdlerizing Company
[15 hits, 2 votes, Average Rating 4.50] [Added: 23rd Sep 2002]; September 23, 2002. A great set of comments showing just how messy this controvery is going to get. With links to other content and earlier Slashdot discussions.
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-REC The "Clean Flicks" Case
[15 hits, 6 votes, Average Rating 4.83] [Added: 3rd Sep 2002]

Findlaw's Writ; Julie Hilden;; September 3, 2002

Which side is correct? Does Clean Flicks have the right to edit properly purchased movies as it sees fit, before renting them out? Or does a director have the right to ensure that a movie remains edited in the ways he or she has approved?

Put another way, what Clean Flicks is doing may be anathema from an artistic point of view (I certainly believe that to be the case), but is it also illegal? I will argue that the legal question is much more difficult than it may seem at first, because Clean Flicks's practices resemble many long-accepted examples of "fair use" in important ways.

... After all, the editing's transformative quality is exactly what is aggrieving the directors: They made a sexy, violent film and Clean Flicks is selling an unsexy, quiet, dull alternative that they believe perverts their intent. Moreover, it's doing so precisely to fit a very different sensibility than the one the director was appealing to - in much the way that a parodist, or a harsh reviewer, tries to cater to an audience that loves mockery, rather than an audience that loves artistic sincerity.

I believe what Clean Flicks is doing is morally objectionable. It tames a director's vision, ruins his or her movie, and mangles its artist intent. But ironically, Clean Flicks's very aggressiveness and destructiveness may mean it is protected by law - for the "fair use" doctrine tends to shelter the very kind of antithetical use of a work that the artist would never voluntarily license, and, indeed, will probably detest.

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-Chain sues to edit sex, violence from films
[12 hits, 3 votes, Average Rating 6.33] [Added: 2nd Sep 2002]; August 31, 2002. Slashdot discussion: Clean Flicks' Preemptive Strike For the Right To Edit

More than a dozen of Hollywood's top directors have been sued by a tiny Colorado video chain that rents films with the sex, violence and blue language edited out, Variety reports.

The offbeat tactic, unveiled Thursday in a federal court, amounts to a preemptive strike against an expected Directors Guild of America (DGA) lawsuit.

"We are taking the bull by the horns," said Pete Webb, spokesman for Clean Flicks of Colorado. "We want to get our suit into court before the DGA does."

Clean Flicks and attorney Robert Huntsman filed the action as part of a strategy to obtain a court ruling that the editing practices are protected under federal copyright law. Defendants include Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford, Sydney Pollack, Robert Altman, Steven Soderbergh, John Landis and Martin Scorsese.

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-Film Moguls: Let Sex, Gore Stay
[17 hits, 2 votes, Average Rating -1.00] [Added: 28th Aug 2002]; Xeni Jardin; August 28, 2002.

The Directors Guild of America may be circling the wagons to take legal action against a handful of companies that offer consumers edited versions of popular films with potentially offensive content stripped out.

The potential suit's target is a handful of companies -- most of which are based in Utah -- that sell content-censoring software applications or altered videos and DVDs from which graphic language, sexual content and violence have been removed.

The companies in question include Movie Mask software creators Trilogy Studios, as well as Family Shield Technologies, makers of the home technology system MovieShield. Their products let consumers censor movies on the fly through their PCs or televisions.

CleanFlicks and Video II, which operate differently, also have sparked the ire of directors and studios. These companies edit top-selling movies, then rent and resell "cleaned" versions online or in retail outlets.

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-Hollywood Balks at High-Tech Sanitizers
[16 hits, 5 votes, Average Rating 2.00] [Added: 19th Sep 2002]

New York Times; Rick Lyman; September 19, 2002. Think about criticisms of Open Source while reading this...

After months of watching a gradual proliferation of companies offering sanitized versions of Hollywood hits to sensitive or politically conservative consumers, movie studios and filmmakers have decided it is time to get a handle on this phenomenon.

"This is very dangerous, what's happening here," said Jay D. Roth, national executive director of the Directors Guild of America. "This is not about an artist getting upset because someone dares to tamper with their masterpiece. This is fundamentally about artistic and creative rights and whether someone has the right to take an artist's work, change it and then sell it."

The issue goes well beyond this small, growing market in cleaned-up movies, whether it's taking the violence out of "Saving Private Ryan" or the nude scenes from "Titanic." As the entertainment industry moves into the digital age, and as more movies and other entertainment forms are reduced to easily malleable electronic bits, the capability will grow for enterprising entrepreneurs to duplicate, mutate or otherwise alter them.

"We're just beginning to understand that this is part of a wider issue," said Marshall Herskovitz, the veteran writer, director and producer. "As long as something exists as digital information, it can be changed. So as a society we have to come to grips with what the meaning of intellectual property will be in the future."

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-Hollywood on the offensive
[16 hits, 6 votes, Average Rating 5.50] [Added: 19th Aug 2002]

Boston Globe; Hiawatha Bray; August 19, 2002. [local PDF] Editing out the offensive parts of movies - the next direction? MovieShield, ClearPlay, TVGuardian, and Clean Flicks

Otherwise you'll hurt my feelings, and I'll begin grumbling like the people at the Directors Guild of America, the organization of Hollywood film directors. Martha Coolidge, president of the guild, is outraged by a variety of companies that allow consumers to view films with the naughty bits excised. Sex scenes, cuss words, guys getting limbs blown off - that kind of thing.

Like music recording companies enraged by illicit Internet file-swapping, Coolidge and her group want to dictate to consumers how movies should be used. But with a new generation of digital video-filtering products coming to market, Coolidge will probably have as much success as the music moguls, which is to say none at all.

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