Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On CleanFlicks and ClearPlay...

Hedgehog Central discusses the CleanFlicks ruling. I'm going to discuss that a little bit here, and in more detail than my comment.

First, I will admit that I am an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, so I have something at stake here. If someone had edited the film or book I wrote without my permission, I would be quite angry about it, and I'd be looking at ways to stop it.

So, this was a good ruling. It stopped people who, with the best of intentions, were hacking away at the artistic work of others. It's a lot of work, and they deserve respect for what they do (even if some of the Hollywood types are way out in left field politically).

Now, federal law does allow people to purchase special DVD players - ClearPlay, for instance - that skip over the scenes. This is okay with me - because the film itself is not being edited or hacked. Instead, the hardware is being programmed a little differently.

Second, there is a good reason why indecency legislation - and the efforts of the AFA and PTC - need to be opposed. Via the free market, technology has emerged that will enable parents to control what their children watch. It is ironic to hear many of the people saying they want smaller government run to the FCC just because Howard Stern is talking about lesbians - or the latest goings-on at Scores. It's as if they forgot how to change the station, or insert a cassette tape or CD, or even turn the radio off (imagine that). The same applies to TV. Parents these days can tell the TV to block certain shows if they are above a certain rating.

There is no need for the censorship campaign. These efforts by the AFA and PTC have gone past reasonable efforts to inform parents (a good thing) and have become efforts to overrule the decisions of individuals to watch certain TV shows. Nobody held a gun to my head and made me buy Team America: World Police or the first season of South Park. I bought them because I thought Matt Stone and Trey Parker made some incredibly hilarious stuff.

If people want to find out what sort of content is on a show, fine. If they want to buy a DVD player from ClearPlay, that's fine, too. But I don't like being told I can't enjoy South Park or Howard Stern's show by a bunch of control freaks who can't respect my right to decide what I'm going to watch or listen to when I want to relax.

1 comment:

Gilbert_Sundevil said...

Interesting ruling. I went to the Colorado District Court Website to find the opinion, but it isn't posted yet.

I have a problem with the decision, which may come from my lack of understanding copywrite law. Maybe your or some of your readers can enlighten me.

Once I purchase something from an artist/author, why does it matter what I do with it? For example, if I buy a book from Amazon that I have read and no longer need, can I use it to level an uneven desk? Can I use an old CD as a coaster? Can I use a pair of scissors to cut up the CD and then re-sell it as a coaster?

I'm a member (they charge an annual fee) of one of the companies that was named in the suit. They aren't making extra copies of these movies. All of the movies that I rented had both an edited version and the original DVD in the case.

The cry about not wanting their work changed seems a little bit disingenuous. Movies are edited all the time for length, tv, mpaa standards.

Lastly, I'm baffled as to why they would bring the suit in the first place. I rent/purchase movies in edited format that I wouldn't otherwise. Assuming the decision stands up to appeal, these producers/directors/studios are losing my entertainment dollar. And I'm not alone. These companies that edit movies sprouted up because the market saw a need and filled it. There are many, many Christian families that would like to enjoy a good movie without having to bring all the extra garbage into their home. They are effectively taking a huge segment of customers and telling them that they don't want their business.