Shelley Osterloh ReportingHollywood can no longer go after the Utah company that helps you watch movies according to your own standards. The bill is a huge victory for ClearPlay Incorporated, whose technology allows the automatic skipping or muting of scenes in DVD's.
The legislation was a response to legal action by Hollywood studios and directors to stop the sale of filtering technology. They argued tampering with content violates copyright laws. The bill that President Bush signed creates a copyright exemption for the process of filtering, and the only company that does that is in Salt Lake City.
Clearplay sells filters for hundreds of movies. Technicians watch each film and program what kind of violence or language might be objectionable into a filter. The Filter for each movie is installed on a specially equipped DVD player and before you watch you can program what you want to skip -- violence, language, sex or nudity -- and levels of how graphic it is. The original DVD is never altered.
Bill Aho, CEO ClearPlay: "It’s clear that we don't violate copyright law, and that we don't make what’s called a derivative work. And because of that I think congress and many businesses are much more comfortable with our technology.”
The bill does not address the controversy over edited DVDs. There are several Utah companies that edit movies. At Jolley's Top Hat Video families can become members of a kind of co-op that buys tapes and DVD's and then has them edited. Only members of this club can rent the edited videos.
Bryce Jolley, Jolley's Top Hat Video: "Our stance is that once a person buys a movie, a video tape, they have the right to show all of it, part of it. They can run over it on a bike if they want to. They can do what ever they want, it’s their tape."
The movie industry didn't support the legislation and has lawsuits ongoing over editing movies. The industry calls both a form of censorship. But this new legislation includes protections for the movie industry as well.
There are criminal penalties for anyone who records and sells bootleg copies of movies. Still, this new legislation is one step forward for families who want to limit the sex, violence and language in the movies they watch.