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Bush Signs a New Fair-Use Bill 134

Posted by timothy
from the small-steps dept.
BostonGunNut writes "Today President Bush signed a bill that gives legal protection to companies that provide software that can automatically filter specific content from DVDs for personal use. This bill, called the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, allows companies to provide filtering software without being sued into oblivion by Hollywood. The legislation also allows the Library of Congress to save and protect old movies and home videos that might otherwise be lost."
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Bush Signs a New Fair-Use Bill

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  • Kind of makes sense: A form of fair use where, if you use it, you end up with less than you started, and you insult the artists who produced the content for you. We can have more freedom, as long as we're asking for the freedom to be restricted?

    I'm not overly impressed by this, as you can probably tell. Can we at least do the decent thing, and require that companies that provide such "filtering" solutions rename the films they edit, and take the makers of that film off the credits, if they so wish? This b

    • Exactly when did private, deliberately unpublished, material become something to be preserved for future generations?
      Ever see films of Hitler at home? Churchill? Important historical figures make home movies too.
      • 1) I'm not an important historical figure, dispite what my ego may tell me. So why should the LoC have access to and permission to archive and make public anything I create?

        2) George W. Bush is an important historical figure. Will we see every little thing he produced in the LoC? I doubt it. If we ever see any of it, it will be what GWB wishes us to see at the GWB Presidential Library. The LoC won't see any of his personal, private stuff. Given that, why should it be allowed to possess anyone else's, then?

        • 1) I'm not an important historical figure, dispite what my ego may tell me. So why should the LoC have access to and permission to archive and make public anything I create?

          From the article, which I know you didn't read:
          The legislation also reauthorizes a Library of Congress program dedicated to saving rare, culturally significant works, such as home movies, silent-era films and other works that are unlikely to be protected by the big studios.

          The videos of you egging your neighbor's house on Hallowee

    • While it is clear you don't like this example of our lawmakers working hard (or hardly)... your comparison to the GPL isn't entirely well founded, and neither is my critique - but hey, this is /. .....

      Basically if you were to change a GPL'd work you would still have to adibe by the license, you are redistributing it - not changing the license.

      The folks who edit a movie and resell it (ignoring DMCA / encryption breaking laws) are realistically no different to selling old CD's (or buying them) from a CD exc
      • I wasn't making a comparison with the GPL, I was asking if the the GPL might be less enforceable under these circumstances.

        The GPL gives me a right to redistribute as long as I redistribute source, including of any modifications. Now, if I do indeed find a way of getting a GPL'd program onto a user's computer (which may not involve redistribution on my part), and independently release a binary equivalent of a "diff" file, the question I have is whether this law now makes this legal? After all, the GPLs po

    • by david duncan scott (206421) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:28PM (#12363909)
      Exactly when did private, deliberately unpublished, material become something to be preserved for future generations?

      The day that historians found useful and interesting material in things like diaries and letters, that's when.

      As for "deliberately unpublished", well, I would imagine that most people just never really thought about it one way or the other.

      Picture this: you find an 8mm movie in the attic of an old house. None of the people are identified, and the previous owners, who bought the house in 1965, don't know anything about it. The movies show interesting glimpses of life on the home front during WW II -- Rosie the Riveter at the company picnic, recruits doing the Lindy Hop before they ship out. At the time, this wasn't history, it was just life, and seemed interesting only to those involved, and even they put it away and forgot about it. Now it might be fascinating, but wait -- who holds copyright? Under the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act , the answer was, of course, Walt Disney, but now perhaps that's changed, and for the better.

      Of course, now that I've actually read the article, it looks like all it does is fund the LoC's efforts to preserve and restore old images, a good thing but not a copyright issue at all.

      • Of course, now that I've actually read the article, it looks like all it does is fund the LoC's efforts to preserve and restore old images, a good thing but not a copyright issue at all.

        Rereading the article, I see what you mean, and withdraw my concerns. To respond to the other part, I agree that film might be fascinating, but it strikes me that distributing it without the copyright holder's consent is an invasion of their privacy, whether what appears is apparently innoculous or not. In time, of course

    • Can we at least do the decent thing, and require that companies that provide such "filtering" solutions rename the films they edit, and take the makers of that film off the credits, if they so wish? This basic right would be afforded to the movie creators by a studio that forces edits upon a movie before release.

      No, and IIRC, it actually takes care to avoid such a possibility arising. I'd have to poke around with the effects on federal trademark law and preemption of state laws. It hasn't been the part of
      • Although I don't see what's wrong with cutting out parts of books for one's own consumption, if that's how you get your kicks, or selling the same, if you're upfront about it. It's not as though the original artist is harmed or is unable to compete.

        Doing so for yourself is entirely different to doing so for other people. I don't have a problem with most personal uses of copyrighted-by-other's material, but when it comes to saying "Hey everyone, do you want to watch a cleaned up version of XYZ?", and sell

        • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @06:04PM (#12365215) Homepage
          Doing so for yourself is entirely different to doing so for other people. I don't have a problem with most personal uses of copyrighted-by-other's material, but when it comes to saying "Hey everyone, do you want to watch a cleaned up version of XYZ?", and selling edits and presenting the film as a merely sanatized version of the original that's fundamentally the same only without the material-it-would-be-morally-wrong-to-even-view, then, yes, I have a big problem with it. I think it's misrepresenting the original artist to put, under their name, something that clearly they wouldn't say represents what they were trying to do and say at all.

          So would you object to it, so long as it was clear that the edits were Alice's Edits of Bob's Movie? Just because Alice has made an EDL doesn't totally divorce it from Bob. Now they're both involved. So long as everyone is clear and up front about it, I don't see a big problem. Alice is not putting it forward as entirely her own work, and Bob is not having it put forward as entirely his either. Frankly, for Bob to disassociate himself from it would be misleading -- he is associated with it to some degree.

          Importantly though, I don't give a crap about artistic integrity. I just don't want the audience to be confused or misled about what it is that they're buying or watching. If they're fully informed, I'm happy.

          And looking through the relevant part of the law, it appears that 1) there are no federal trademark remedies against the 110 editors, 2) they do have to include a conspicious notice as to the fact that it's edited, 3) I'd still have to investigate as to state causes of action, but I think that Congress' intent is fairly clear.
          • So would you object to it, so long as it was clear that the edits were Alice's Edits of Bob's Movie?

            If Bob objects, and as far as he's concerned, this isn't his movie any more, then, yes, I'd object to it. Of course, regardless of what should be done, we know what is being done: these types of editors are being marketed as "clean" versions of named movies. Not different movies using footage from named movies, but essentially the same thing, only cleaner. We already know how the names of the artists conce

            • If you make a different movie, one that an artist whose work you "based it upon" wants no part in, then why name it after the original work, and why include the artist's name? Answer: because you're still wanting to trade off those names, you want people to assume what you're producing is actually some form of the real deal.

              Not necessarily. As I said, it's a fact. If I buy a car, rice it out, and sell it, the fact that it's been modified doesn't change that consumers are best informed knowing what it orig
              • Not necessarily. As I said, it's a fact.

                Except it isn't. It's a lie.

                If I buy a car, rice it out, and sell it, the fact that it's been modified doesn't change that consumers are best informed knowing what it originally was; if I just said it was a car, then how can people make a careful buying decision not knowing if I started with a sports car or a compact?

                Bad analogy. Nobody advertises a riced-out car as "A Pontiac Firebird designed by John Smith at General Motors." And even if we pretend my is

    • by GreyWolf3000 (468618) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @05:12PM (#12364619) Journal
      I sympathize with you, but look on the bright side...

      We can finally watch Episode 1 without Jar Jar in it!

      • Does this law make The Phantom Edit legal? Anyone know where I can get a copy?
        • by troyboy (9890) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @05:37PM (#12364925)
          The law does not allow you to make or distribute a copy of the modified work with teh deleted scenes. It only allows you to sell and use technology that removes segments to create the modified work. So, it would be legal to distribute a device that transforms The Phantom Menace into The Phantom Edit, but not to distribute The Phantom Edit by itself. It seems to me that this would be tricky to accomplish with a DVD player unless it is specifically designed for it, but would be easier with software on a computer (but would DeCSS be required?!?).
      • Heh.

        Actually, I recall Lucas has always been fairly liberal with the whole people setting things in his universes thing, and initially didn't have a problem with The Phantom Edit until it blew up into a thing that looked like would take sales away from the real thing.

        I can imagine he'd be relatively happy with a technology that allows people to buy Star Wars DVDs and view edits of them. A rare case.

    • Is this a poor write-up by the article submitter?

      Why don't you RTFA and find out?

  • Doesn't dvdshrink have the ability to cut chapters from the disc that it copies? If this were advertised as a feature for removing material that one finds objectionable, wouldn't that make dvdshrink legal as well?
  • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:00PM (#12363456) Journal
    Getting parents, who are less tech-savvy than their kids, to use technology in order to prevent their teens from viewing gratuitous scenes.

    Here's a crazy idea, and it'll save you the hassle of learning how to set the DVD-player's clock: teach them right from wrong, y'know, as parents are supposed to do.

    Yes, it sounds crazy, but it just might be crazy enough to work.
    • it just might be crazy enough to work
      People have been doing that for millennia. It works fairly well but it's not 100% reliable. This is well known. It's hardly a crazy idea and given its lack of reliability it seems reasonable to use other methods of education too.
    • Why do you assume it's the teens that need protection?

      My kids are small (under 6) and I have hand edited music files to remove curse words, so they can listen to decent music without growing their vocabularies in unsavory ways (hint: not damn or hell). They should be exposed to great music, not Kidz Bop Volume 37. If .0007% of that music is inappropriate, I just scrubbed it out. Big apologies to the artist, but wtf, I'm not publishing it. It's time consuming and a little sloppy, so I don't do it to all of
    • "learning how to set the DVD-player's clock"
      Most DVD players I've seen in retail outlets don't have clocks.
  • Glad to see Congress is finally being a bit more honest about their backronyms.
  • "family values" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zork the Almighty (599344) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:03PM (#12363523) Journal
    It seems like you can get anything done if you make it sound like a Christian issue. All this time we have been whining about the DMCA, the freedom to reverse engineer, etc. and nothing was done until this. If we framed the fair-use issue in terms of a personal right to censor the vile bile spewed by atheist Hollywood we would have won. Prehaps the Bible endorses file sharing. Someone should look.
    • Prehaps the Bible endorses file sharing. Someone should look.

      I'm pretty sure that after Moses came down from the mountain and read The Ten Commandments, he verbally granted everyone a license to redistribute the text. He must have or else everyone violated the one about stealing his ideas.

    • Prehaps the Bible endorses file sharing.
      Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread on the waters; for you shall find it after many days.
      Since it says it will take "many days" the scripture obviously refers to a very low-bandwidth bread connection. Nevertheless it is quite clear that file sharing is a good christian family value and only liberal scum in league with the UN and the forces of evil would ever say otherwise.
    • "Be fruitful and multiply."

      Pretty easy to multiply music files, right?
    • Re:"family values" (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meringuoid (568297)
      Prehaps the Bible endorses file sharing. Someone should look.

      Feeding of the five thousand.

      Your man Jesus has attracted a massive crowd of fans, admirers, hangers-on, bystanders, people with nothing better to do, and general riff-raff, none of whom have apparently bothered to bring lunch. He finds a kid who has brought some food, a small quantity of fish and bread. He proceeds to copy the fish and bread and redistribute it to all these thousands of people.

      I'm sure the local bakers, fishermen, hot dog

  • Questions, Please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:06PM (#12363564) Homepage Journal

    allows companies to provide filtering software

    So of course this was done to permit commercial entities to provide filtering software to slice out "objectionable" parts of a copyrighted work before it gets passed to a viewer.

    Will it protect individual citizens from doing the same thing - that is, providing filtering software - supposing that my criterion for obscenity includes what others call "advertisements"?

    • Obscenity isn't a factor. You can just filter out whatever you want, whatever you consider it to be, provided you otherwise comply with the exemption (or of course, some other exemption).

      It does refer to 'limited portions' but given recent caselaw, presumably that can apply to a lot. ;)
    • Modulo any clauses I haven't read closely enough, I see this new law as possibly serving two audiences -- it can be used to allow hiding certain scenes in movies, be they scenes that contain nudity, foul language, violence, or anything else deemed objectionable. It can also be used to hide scenes that *do not* contain these things. So we have an odd bedfellows situation: both those who, for instance, want to keep views of women's breasts off of their TVs and those who only want to see women's breasts are
  • nice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm glad to see that already in the first 5 posts we have people trying to reconcile their "OMG BUSH IS TEH EVIL!!11" 'opinions' with their pro-fair-use opinions.

    No blood for oil, right guys?

    I totally have no problem posting this, but the crack-abusing mods will mod me down within minutes for daring to suggest that perhaps Bush is, you know, not evil. Anonymous it is, then.
  • DeCSS could be called a "filter" I think. C'mon everybody, quit bitching and start looking for loopholes.
    • Write a V-chip style filter for video and/or audio streams (DVDs, WMV, AAC, etc.). This would require that have a method for decoding the stream. Pretty much protects you from the DMCA, as long as YOU don't distributes copies.
    • Re:DeCSS (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dpilot (134227)
      You're absolutely right. As someone else mentioned, it's really sick that we've been groaning for years about erosion of fair use, and here comes a fair use expansion riding on the coattails of "family values." I'm sure any true fair use expansion is targeted, minimal, and accidental. But hey, whatever we can get.

      Now we just need a buzzterm for it. Mining, Datamining, ????mining?
      • Re:DeCSS (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nelsonal (549144)
        That's the way politics almost always works. Things don't happen politically because they are the best ideas, they happen because some bright person adds them to a popular issue. Elected officals maximize votes, so they only care about popular issues (except in the rare case of an of an official who has a passionate pet issue). If you want to get something done politically, you have to play the game and find a more powerful ally to support your issue. The geeks just are not a large enough voting bloc to
        • And I thought it mostly worked on campaign contributions, and popularity of an issue was second. (or the popularity was bought by the contributor)
          • Campaign contributions are only really useful for providing resources that will [buy] votes. Campaign contributions are important but look at Steve Forbes he can spend all the money he wants, and will likely never be elected to anything, which is what his real goal is. Sure some cash greases the wheel, but if the cash comes at the cost of votes, it better buy more votes than it costs. Several hundred million for political contributions not buy NABLA much political support, but an email blast from the old
    • by fm6 (162816)
      Does DeCSS filter out Kate Winslett's breasts [celebritym...rchive.com] when you're watching Titanic with your grandkids? If not, don't expect Republican politicians to care about it.

      People do have a right to control what they watch. But it's kind of sad that this kind of self-censorship gets expedited treatment, while you can still be prosecuted for circumventing the Region protection on a movie that hasn't been released in your area.

  • by metoc (224422) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:10PM (#12363627)
    A number of directors have clauses in their contracts that prohibit edits, cropping, etc. of their films without their permission.

    I wonder how the courts will view legislation that essentially overrules these clauses; and what the MPAA, Hollywood and the Directors Guild are going to do.
    • A number of directors have clauses in their contracts that prohibit edits, cropping, etc. of their films without their permission.

      Contracts with whom? The customer? The electronics manufacturer? I don't think so. When I bought the DVD, I don't remember signing a contract that said I had to watch the whole thing from start to finish, and neither did the electronics manufacturer.

      I'm glad this law was passed, but I have a hard time understanding why it was even necessary. As far as I'm concerned, this

      • As far as I'm concerned, this technology is nothing more than an automatic fast-forward button. How can that be a copyright violation?????

        Ask ReplayTV, who were sued into oblivion because of their automatic commercial skip.

        • They just didn't have the money to fight this in court. They would have won had they continued. There are plenty of VCRs that have a commercial-skip feature, and none of those manufacturers were "sued into oblivion". In fact, Sony would have had to sue itself if commercial skipping technology were really illegal.
      • A third party is creating a derivative work without the consent of the author and profiting by doing so -- a clear copyright violation by any interpretation of the law. Until today.
        • If I fast-forward through a movie I'm watching, or press the next-chapter button, am I also creating a derivative work? Have I violated a copyright?
          • No. But if you published a paper saying "At 0:23:48 fast-forward for 10 seconds. Then at 0:32:56 hit the next-chapter button" etc, then you ARE creating a derivative work and you are violating copyright by the nature of distributing the paper that you wrote to other parties.
        • I'm prety sure that the "Dirivative Work" would have to be in a tangible medium to be a copyright violation. Remember that copyright comes into effect when the expression of an idea is fixed in a tangible medium, paper, disc, celluliod, etc. I dont think the new law reduces or removes the prohibition of public performances and it specifically prohibits the production of copies with the "objectionable" material already removed. It simply makes it explicitly legal to do "on-the-fly" removal of "objectionab
        • Actually, it's not clear at all. It's not clear that a derivative is being created, and it's not clear that even if one is, a preexisting exemption wouldn't cover it.
      • Mod the parent poster up. There are no "contracts" outside of the director and the producers/movie studios. The director may have a contract with the movie studio to not edit his film, but once its out in the open, does this contract mean no one can edit the film? This falls under fair use. However, distributing the film once you've recut is a legal grey area: its like sampling in hip hop. But, this is a moot point because the copies of the film in question are purchased legitimately, then either "cen
    • The clauses discuss the presentation to the end user. If the end user wants wear an eye patch and ear plugs while hanging upside down well to each his own.
  • Misleading headline (Score:3, Informative)

    by wizarddc (105860) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:20PM (#12363765) Homepage Journal
    This is the same legislation that make recording a movie in the theatre a felony with a potential three year jail sentence. I don't know how pro fair use it is. I don't think recording and pirating a movie like that should be legal, but it shouldn't warrant jail time.
    • And forfeiture and destruction of all copies as well as of all equipment used to make them on top of that three-year sentence.

      Why? Because there may be latent images inside that hardware, so to destroy all copies, one must destroy the evil technology tainted with it too?

      So if you're to risk a three-year sentence, better also use cheap-ass equipment, because you ain't gettin' it back.

      (I can't wait until the first person to undergo successful reconstructive brain surgery gets his implants seized and destr
  • by Dr. Bent (533421) <.ben. .at. .int.com.> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:28PM (#12363906) Homepage
    Me: "Ok, so lets see if I can make a "clean" copy of this DVD..."

    Software: HELLO, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO FILTER?

    [ ] Sexual Content
    [ ] Violence
    [ ] Adult Language
    [X] FBI Copyright Warning

    Me: Perfect! Just the way I want it. Anyone have a blank DVD?
  • How to pass a bill (Score:3, Informative)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) <[fidelcatsro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:34PM (#12364019) Journal
    1: write bill and pass it to freind in congress
    2: name bill Family values & (for this example) Biological warfare program
    3: Pay other freinds in congress to acuse people who do not support the bill of "Being Unamerican" and "not caring about the children"
    4: pay off ramainder / lobby
    5: celebrate your multi billion dollar contract

    This bill may have some usefull atributes that could help you lot over in the states be allowed to crack the CSS restrictions which is no doubt good (if it ends up being ruled as such).
    Though i do worry about how they can tack the magic "family values" on to everything and magicaly pass it with little trouble...
  • In reference to the "family values" comment modded troll for some reason - he was right: Actually, it does, indirectly. Unfortunately this and other issues are conveniently ignored by the "religious right", their "interpretation" of the Bible, like that of most fundamentalist movements, tends to be inductive in nature. The number of Biblical quotes taken out of context, especially by "Evangelicals" is staggering. (See war, capital punishment, capitalism, and social justice issues, care for the ill and poor,
  • Fuck. (Score:5, Informative)

    by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:39PM (#12364116) Homepage
    Don't get me wrong -- the Orphan Works and new 110 exemption are both good, if very half-assed.

    But this comes with significant new civil and criminal penalties that are just apalling.

    Oh, and this has nothing whatsoever to do with fair use. The new 110 exemption is a statutory exemption. It applies regardless of fairness, if the criteria it sets forth are satisfied. The title of the /. article is a huge misnomer.

    You can read it here [govtrack.us].

    The breakdown is basically:

    Title I -- very very bad
    Title II -- good, but not as good as it could be.
    Title III -- meh
    Title IV -- good for rather limited uses, but also not as good as it could be
    • Since I know you are a layer, but not my lawer, I am asking for an opinion and not advice.

      If I read this bill correctly, I may be given 3 year in jail for bringing a digital camera (yay 30 secs of crappy quicktime) into a theater, even if I am not using it, but it is visible?

      Is that right?
      • Re:Fuck. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @05:56PM (#12365132) Homepage
        No.

        The new 18 USC 2319B makes it an offense to, in pertinent part, knowingly use or attempt to use, a camera. Possession of one is a factor that can be looked at, but the statute actually says that mere possession of a camera isn't enough to support a conviction.

        So if you bring one in, with the intent to use it, that's enough. But if you bring one in, and don't use or attempt to use it, that's not enough.

        The trick is in how we determine your intent, if you get caught at an early stage. It's easy if you've set it up on a tripod, patched it into the sound system, and have your finger on the record button. It's harder earlier, but still possible.

  • If GWB and the Republican Party really cared about the Constitution and restricted government/lower taxes, why do they keep passing bills that fit the needs of special interests--i.e., their interests?

    For completeness, the Democrats are no better.
  • I can just see it now, "Debbie Does Dallas, Bible Belt Edition". Marc
  • Will this allow sites such as Archive.org to keep copies of movies? If I remember correctly, they fought a lawsuit to store such things under the fair-use clause but lost.
  • It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the long term. As the capability for filtering becomes universal in DVD players, I expect Hollywood to begin supplying their own filters.

    Then there will be no limit to the amount of pornography and violence in the average film. Unfiltered it will be XXX. Push the appropriate button to tone it down to X, R, PG-13, G - whatever you want.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

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