Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, told a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday that he’s prepared to introduce legislation “to protect the right of parents to shield their children from violence, sex and profanity” — unless litigation between makers and distributors of the technology and Hollywood studios and directors is settled within weeks.
[…] Hollywood strongly objects to the movie filtering technology produced and marketed by companies including ClearPlay, a Salt Lake City business whose chairman testified at the hearing. ClearPlay’s technology allows viewers to skip or mute scenes in DVD movies flagged by company employees as containing violence, sex and nudity, offensive language or other potentially objectionable content.
For analysis, see Ernest Miller’s Copyfight posting: Liberals, Conservatives Favor Different Kinds of Censorship
For hearing materials from the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, see the following:
May 20, 2004 – Oversight hearing on “Derivative Rights, Moral Rights, and Movie Filtering Technology.”
From the chairman’s statement:
ClearPlay the technology does not create derivative works, does not add new material to a movie, and makes no permanent alterations to a legally purchased or rented DVD. This technology does not violate the copyright and trademark laws of our nation, nor does the technology violate the DMCA. In fact, ClearPlay the technology will only work with legal DVDs. It will not work with a copied DVD.
The technology available today is the electronic equivalent of what my parents did a generation ago to protect their children by muting the sound or fast forwarding over objectionable material.
The issue isn’t whether a movie loses some of its authenticity due to skipping of various audio and video, but whether parents have a right to shield their children from offensive content. I believe that the right of parents to protect their children is essential. And if they choose to designate a third party to help them accomplish this, more power to them.
Since there is an outstanding lawsuit involving several of the companies that create such family-friendly technology, I’ll avoid talking about the lawsuit. Negotiations among some of the parties have been ongoing for eight months and I hope that the participants will resolve their issues.
If not, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I are prepared to introduce legislation or use other legislative vehicles to protect the right of parents to shield their children from violence, sex, and profanity.
And I leave the reading of Rep. Berman’s statement to those of you who who really want to see some fast footwork. For example, I like this passage in particular and the way it reflects the general failure of copyright legislation to address the problem of access and the the control thereof, the elephant in the room that so many legislators insist on ignoring:
Would the [proposed] legislation only apply to digital works? If so, what nonsense. It means that someone could sell an e-book reader that prevents reading the murder scene in an ebook version of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, but can’t sell the hard-copy book with the offending pages ripped out. Why would legislation protect technology that skips the violent scenes in a DVD version of Platoon, but not protect a service that cuts the same scenes from the VHS version? If both activities are copyright infringement today, why would legislation only immunize the digital infringement?