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Censorship Media Movies

Hollywood Says No to Filtering DVD Player 648

haplo21112 writes "There is a posting over at ZDNet about how Hollywood continues to trample on the American consumer's free use rights. They want to prevent the sale of a special DVD player which can be used to edit out offensive material from a DVD in realtime. While I don't agree with censorship in general, I do believe its everyone's right to do what they wish with their own media."
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Hollywood Says No to Filtering DVD Player

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:54PM (#5192087)
    I also think that everyone should be forced to watch these movies. If we're going to rob people of their rights. Let's not half-ass it.
    • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:28PM (#5192317)
      ... is that survey shows that 18% of people think. No, I have not right do do anything AT HOME with MY DVD that might interfere with copyright as the corporations understand it. Hopefully those are people on Hollywood payroll. But if not, that is a serious problem.
      • Dollars to Donuts, the MPAA has a bot that is just flooding the polling server, and accounts for that 18% of the survey. Which just attests to the fact that everyone has responded so resoundingly against the MPAA, that concerned humans (and slashdotters too) are outflooding them.

        I mean really are they next going to tell us that to use the fast forward, pause, and rewind buttons are a violation of the copyright, and if we want to get up and go to the bathroom, or make popcorn, we have to miss the movie just like they intended us to do in the movie theater.

        Well it is quite obvious that all of the Executives have Au Pairs to watch their kids for them while they are off busy at fancy Hollywood parties. They handle the copyright violations by having a person fastforward through the bad bits for their kids.
  • This technology would allow for parents to show otherwise questionable movies to their kids. That would lead to a higher number of movies bought or rentals per family, because some movies are no longer out of the question.
    Not that I am agreeing with the censorship, I just don't see the logic in trying to ban this.
    • by martyn s ( 444964 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:59PM (#5192125)
      It's a bad precedent. It gives us (geeks) an example that we can use to explain to normal people what "fair use" means. If such a DVD player were common people might understand what fair use is exactly.
    • by Poeir ( 637508 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:02PM (#5192151) Journal
      No one is telling anyone they are not allowed to watch what they want, which would be an abridgement of free speech against the person who was trying to allow others to watch what that individual wanted, but rather not allow someone not to watch only the parts they want. How is this really any different from allowing scene selection? ("Let's see... I want to watch Moria, then Weathertop, and then I want to watch the Amon Sul. After that, Matrix lobby scene, followed by Agent defeat.") I don't see any difference between watching scenes in a particular order, through using scene selection or, heaven forbid, PowerDVD's bookamark system, and a DVD player that skips particular scenes entirely.

      This position is similar to a position that says "You are required to watch our films." It's not censorship, since it doesn't forbid some things from being shown, but it is absurd and outrageous.
      • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @08:53PM (#5192894) Homepage Journal
        I actually like some tv-cleaned versions of movies better because they remove excessive use of language. I'd be mad if they only offered the edited version to me but if the DVD offered 'cleaned' English language version I'd sometimes use it. No new technology required. :)

        I'd like to see support for some of these features in Xine, MPlayer, etc. It'd be pretty cool to have language and video masks made for and by a community site. For language just a set of start/stop marks to skip certain channels and for video start/stop/x/y/size data so you could blur objectable spots. Maybe some way to skip scenes or portions of scenese too. MovieBlipsXML? ;)
    • by frodo from middle ea ( 602941 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:04PM (#5192171) Homepage
      I think they are thinking about starting to show advertisements on DVDs preety soon. And if you can filter out selectivecontents , you will be able to filter out ADs too..

      And that would be stealing content.Now we don't want to steal content and deny the HW of its millions (or should i say billions) do we .... ?

      • I think they are thinking about starting to show advertisements on DVDs preety soon

        They already do! Infrequently, and non-specific yet (I swear to return a DVD that would have an AOL commercial on it). But your point is well made... a filter can exist to skip the FBI warning and whatever other crap studios make unskippable...

    • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:26PM (#5192312)
      Reasons why I think Hollywood wants to stop this business from happening:

      1. Their cut. I am sure these services that offer the filtering are not doing it for free (correct me if i am wrong), but if hollywood is loosing a potential revenue stream form this, I can see them being angry.

      2. Directors. If I was a director, I would be pretty upset with 3rd party disruption of my vision of a movie even if it doesn't fit one's approriate maturity level. The "If you can't handle it don't watch it" rule applies here, which I can totally empithize with. Refer to the Simpsons episode on censoring museums.

      3. Loss of control. With DVD's, the idea was to make a medium that could not have been tampered with. That obviously failed. With the reintegrated fight between content owners and content creators, we can see similar war in the horizon. This may just be a reinforcing leagl position to assist future problems.

      EG. If I set my DVD player to 'NO_ADS' mode, effectively removeing the crap at the beginning of DVD's which I don't want to see, do I have the right to time shift through it if I deam that I don't want to look at it?

      Personally, I think if i bought the DVD, and it does not effect anything outside the scope of what I purchased, I should be able to time shift and 'manipulate' the output of the movie any way like as long as it is legal to do so (no redistribution, etc...).

      If I watch the movie from a projector steatching out the picture to look funky, and changing the sound channels, back to front and front to back, I should have the right to as long I am not infringing on the rights of the creators, which I wouldn't be, even though I am viewing a movie in a way not intended by the authors.

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @09:02PM (#5192951)
        "Directors. If I was a director, I would be pretty upset with 3rd party disruption of my vision"

        Too damn bad. When I buy something, it's mine. I interfer with the directors vision all the time when I skip over boring parts of movies I've already seen. They have NO RIGHT to tell me I can't do that. This applies to all art. YOu are perfectly free to buy a painting and then burn it or deface it. When it's yours, you are allowed to do what you wish with it. YOu can't reproduce it, that's copyright infringement, but you may modify and use the copy you own as you see fit.
    • There are, without doubt, different types of censorship.

      Political censorship (ie. limiting free speech via any method) is NOT the same as a parent deciding what a child can and cannot watch.

      Personally I think the whole thing is a bit hypocritical anyway. Parents like this piss me off, particularly the types that go out and buy the Titanic video, and make a copy, cutting out the bits where they have sex in the car and you see Kate Winslet's tit and everything, yet they keep all the lying, cheating and violence in.

      Things like this only serve to mystify these topics to children, and as we all know, whatever is taboo, is more interesting.

      Things like this probably have their place, but just because a parent can click the 'Hide the nudie bits' button, doesnt mean they should stop caring what the children watch. We're already letting these soulless media companies raise our children, one step at a time, this just looks to me like another way for the parents to not give a shit about their children.

      • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @08:13PM (#5192644) Homepage Journal
        yet they keep all the lying, cheating and violence in.

        It's really ironic that the beautiful things need hiding and the distressing things are left in plain view.

        It's bad enough they end up seeing shite like Shallow Hal.

        What films would be on offer anyway?


        5 people go into space, one by one they go missing then Ripley says "it's alright now, they've gone".

        Texas Chainsaw Massacre

        Gang of teenagers go into the woods. One comes out.

        Deep Throat

        Woman goes to the doctors. The End.

        Pulp Fiction

        Two guys talk about fast food. Man & woman do a funny dance. Two guys drink coffee.


        Some people go swimming and don't come back. Man goes to find a shark.

    • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @08:20PM (#5192691) Journal
      You are forgetting the **AA orgs are not about profit.. its about a cartel of power. Course the next stem is having a dvd that wont allow you to skip ther adverts and wont let you be able to jump to a diferent scene.
  • Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjames ( 579137 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:56PM (#5192104)
    This is all because I could deam the ads offensive to my filter and it would kill them.
    • My thoughts exactly. The DVD format is very valuable, becuase of the forced adverisements at the beginning of the movie. Making it possible to distribute a tick list that skipped over the ads would diminish the value of the movie considerably.

      More than that, a natural extension of this would diminish the value of product placement: PepsiCo could distribute a set of mods which turned each coke can or sign ito a pepsi can or sign. Thnk about what that would do to the value of branding entries in a movie.
      • Re:Money (Score:5, Interesting)

        by The_K4 ( 627653 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:06PM (#5192190)
        I'm not sure that this player could do that. If id does then it is CLEARLY in violation of the licence for the CCS, which says it can not skip, or allow a user to skip, these items. If it does skip those items, it's going to lose it's case without question.
      • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:14PM (#5192250) Homepage Journal
        ... PepsiCo could distribute a set of mods which turned each coke can or sign ito a pepsi can or sign.

        That has some really neat implications. If it were possible to replace one image with another on-the-fly, then it would be possible to do it for other things than Coke cans. For example, bodies.

        I doubt that you could induce most folks to apply a mod which would change Pepsi to Coke, but I bet a lot of folks would apply mods which would replace clothed actors with unclothed. Or John Wayne instead of Vin Diesel. Or an unclothed John Wayne instead of Linda Lovelace. The possibilities are endlessly disgusting.

        Just to get back on-topic, that's NOT what the article is describing! What IS being described is a way to automatically skip certain sections of a movie:(from the article [])

        Think you should have the right to view the movies you own (or rent) the way you--and not the content's creators--wish?

        IN EITHER CASE, you should know about a company that hopes to market a special DVD player that will automatically skip over violent and sexually explicit scenes and mute the bad language that is so prevalent in Hollywood blockbusters.

        That's a lot simpler than your pipedream, though not half so nifty.
    • Re:Money (Score:5, Funny)

      by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:30PM (#5192332)
      > This is all because I could deam the ads offensive to my filter and it would kill them.

      You *already* can do this. When I watch a DVD, and it has ads at the beginning, I leave the room to get snacks & drinks. What's next -- getting sued because I'm skipping the ads?!
      • Re:Money (Score:5, Insightful)

        by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:59PM (#5192552) Homepage Journal
        No, they won't sue you. I'm certain they could represent that as a DMCA violation. They will hire the FBI to break down your door and force you to watch the advertisements. Oh no, you closed your eyes! Time for the 'clockwork orange' treatment!

        Does ANYONE watch the advertisements on the DVD anymore? Everyone I know uses the time to mute the tv and finish making popcorn and stuff. They don't even look at the tv.

        Hey I don't have a problem with forced advertising if the movie was FREE. But it isn't!

        What a world where we pay to watch advertisements. Often, even the movies themselves are advertisements for a political purpose.

  • by Tri0de ( 182282 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:56PM (#5192107) Journal
    To watch the pro-censorship right wingers fight it out with the Senator from Disney and his Copyrights-are-forever-and-immutable industry lapdog cronies.
  • Go Hollywood! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joystickit ( 529613 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:57PM (#5192115)
    This isn't so bad. Perhaps they'll make parents actually think about what DVDs they let their children watch instead of thinking technology can parent for them. (yeah, fat chance, I know) (also, Double standards: I can have them, you can't)
    • Re:Go Hollywood! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Teancom ( 13486 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:12PM (#5192240) Homepage
      1) Why do you think that this will be used (soley?) to let children watch "bad" movies? Specifically, I prefer to watch PG-13 (and less) movies, but would like to see some R-rated movies, minus gratuitous sex scenes*, or gory violence (I don't enjoy gore, and if I want sex, then I romance my wife).

      2) What double standards? You didn't elaborate, so I have to guess that you are critical of parents telling their children that they are unable to watch movies that the parents *do* watch. If that is your position, then it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. If I was into gore/horror films, I certainly wouldn't let my 5 year old watch them. Neither would I want him to watch a Kevin Smith film, as there is no need for him to hear the F-word 5 times a minute. How is that a double-standard? I also wouldn't let him drink, vote, or drive.

      *Off-topic note about this, I was listening to an archived interview of Chris Rock and Kevin Smith on the Howard Stern show, from just before Dogma's release. One of the most interesting parts of the interview is how everyone on the show agreed that if they could eliminate one thing from their life, it would be porn. It creates such false, twisted, "high" expectations, that no real person could live up to them, and you end up spending your whole time wanking off rather than having real sex with your partner. And none of those people are exactly what you would call "right-wing" :-)
    • by Gerry Gleason ( 609985 ) <gerry@gerUMLAUTa ... .com minus punct> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:56PM (#5192525)
      The real effect will be to unmask the people pushing this craziness, and show everyone what control freaks they really are. When I first heard about the way Hollywood, and in particular directors were up in arms about the companies that were producing "safe" versions of various movies, I was simpathetic. In fact, what they were doing was producing a derivative work without permission, and Hollywood really had a good case. When you start thinking about providing the consumer with the information necessary to enable their player to do these edits in real time from the original media, I think the jig is up.

      You've got to ask where this would stop. If I want to play pieces of my DVDs cut-up and in whatever sequence I want, that is my right as an owner of the media. My wife often doesn't want to watch anything with extremely violent scenes, and these scenes are rarely important to my enjoyment either (often I'd just as soon have them gone, but not so strongly that I wouldn't watch). There still might be a legal issue WRT the "skip data" because a court may decide this is derived from the original work, but this still shouldn't stop the individual from cutting a work in any way they please.

      Also, if they appose "special" players that can do this, I suppose they want to outlaw any playback through a computer. Even with MS style DRM, computer playback will be likely to give you a lot more flexibility than with any purpose built player. This may, in fact, be the origin of the fact the MS is supporting the electronics industry against the content providers. Ultimately, Hollywood wants to prevent any playback flexibility, which is the whole point of having PC playback anyway.

      Finally, does anyone really think these "special" devices would even work? You're going to have to have some security controls related to loading the "censor" data, and how old do you think the kids have to get before their hacking skills out-distance their parents ability to control these devices. I'm sure that some with some devices all it will take is a power cycle, and you'll be able to play the raw disks again.

  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:58PM (#5192120)
    How would people feel if someone wrote some magical piece of software that prevented users from having to view annoying copyright- and authorship- nag banners and notices that appear while running software ?
  • by pergamon ( 4359 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:58PM (#5192121) Homepage
    I can't wait for someone to start making filters for these that skip over everything but the "objectionable" content...
    • by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:04PM (#5192169) Journal
      I remember an interview with Elizabeth Berkley in which she mentioned that she was riding an airplane shortly after Showgirls came out, with the in arm television screens. Her seat mate did not recognise her and picked Showgirls, she was shocked to look over and see that he was fast forwarding through all the non nude scenes. I got a pretty good laugh out of the fact that she was surprised by this.
    • That reminds me of a so-so Jessica Lange movie called Men Don't Leave []. Some kids start stealing TVs and selling them to a creepy guy who edits out all the "talking parts" in porn movies. The creepy guy was played by a great character actor, Kevin Corrigan, who plays Uncle Eddie on the TV series "Grounded for Life."
  • illegal (Score:5, Funny)

    by LinuxCumShot ( 582742 ) <lcs@rabi e n . com> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:01PM (#5192137) Homepage Journal
    my stereo should be illegal, it adds distortion to music in real time

  • by The_K4 ( 627653 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:01PM (#5192140)
    Wait for someone to invent a really useful device that would sell more of the media company's product, sue them out of existance, then release their own copy of said invention. They can't just appreciate that someone is helping them get to a larger audience.....

    Why do i suddenly have this image of the Ned Flanders and the boys trying to watch a cleaned-up version of Pulp Fiction?
  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:01PM (#5192146) Journal
    I CAN OFFER only three words to Hollywood: Get over it. Or maybe: Turn it around. If people find certain scenes in certain movies offensive, maybe Hollywood shouldn't force its paying customers to watch those scenes.

    I'm guessing that the studios aren't so much interested in forcing people to watch "offensive scenes" as they are in ensuring that they are going to be the sole avenue for producing "Family" or "Edited" versions. A Studio might, for example, decide to release a PG-13 version of James Cameron's Aliens. There would probably be a market for that unless, of course, ClearPlay, CleanFlicks or some other company is already providing families with the ability to edit their R-rated Aliens DVD on the fly.

    The author of the article would have a stronger argument if he wasn't distorting the true intentions of the studios like that.


  • How long? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by no_demons ( 602587 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:01PM (#5192147)
    A DVD player that won't let you watch DVDs the way you want to watch them? How long before we see TVs without 'mute' buttons. Can't you just do this kind of thing now anyway with a decent VCR and a little time? When will the anti-digital madness end?
  • by kilroy_hau ( 187226 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:02PM (#5192153) Journal
    I find those warnings offensive.

    I'm not a criminal, I bought the DVD and I just want to see the damn movie. I want to remove those warnings

    • Re:FBI warnings too? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Manax ( 41161 )
      I have actually seen DVDs that force me to watch both the FBI warning AND the studio's intro. It really is a legitimate issue that I have with DVD players.

      What I'd like to see is some open source "PROMs" that contain all the code to parse the DVD... to tell the damn machine to ignore any commands that would make it ignore MY commands...

      Basically, it irks me that the machine is no longer behaving like a VCR or a CD player... that it won't LET me do certain things that the author decides I shouldn't do...

      Or perhaps I should replace my Panasonic DVD player with one that does ignore those commands, if such a thing exists...

      I guess fundementally, this is the exact same issue as the one in the article. "Who can control how you use copyrighted material you own?"

    • Next you'll want to take the tag off the mattress!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:03PM (#5192162)

    We need to be very careful about throwing around the word "censorship" in a context like this. IMO, it is not censorship or anything like it for a parent to fast-forward through a questionable scene in a movie. It's not censorship for a commercial organization to decide it doesn't want to carry/show/broadcast certain material.

    Censorship is state-sponsored, implicitly-at-gunpoint, restrictions on free speech, freedom of the press, etc. It's prohibited by the Bill of Rights .
  • by Jammer@CMH ( 117977 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:03PM (#5192163)
    No JarJar! Imagine the possibilities!
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:04PM (#5192167)
    There are certain movies that are great, but not quite acceptable for my family to watch.

    With a technology like this, you could tell the DVD player what's appropriate for the audience.

    It would be a really great solution to show certain movies in schools too.
  • by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:04PM (#5192172) Homepage
    This is far better than those wankers over at CleanFlicks [] who not only have an agenda, but also infringe on the copyright of directors and producers (in fact they've been sued already for that very same reason).

    A device that does that puts the power to choose what to see and what not to see in the hands of the consumer, where it belongs.

    • What agenda do the "wankers" at CleanFlicks have? An accusation like that should be backed up. Also, when has it been proven that they infringe on copyright? Do directors even retain copyright? What case have they lost?

      I agree that there is a distinction to be made between devices such as MovieMask which filter on the fly and CleanFlick, but in the end it is still the consumer that is choosing to view an edited movie. The difference is how fine grained the control is, not the concept itself.

      Finally, you can bet that CleanFlicks will make use of the technology ASAP. There is no reason for them not to since there is no "agenda".

  • Art or free media? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spytap ( 143526 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:04PM (#5192174)
    Does anyone else feel a parallel to when the Catholic Church went along "censoring" all the great works of art which contained nudity by drawing or painting over them, and adding leaves, etc? Personally, I feel art should be left alone. The greatest and most heralded art was made by singular geniuses; no good art was ever created by a committee of politicians...
    • Ehm, no. If you purchase an art booklet and draw leaves over pictures there (or pay someone to do it for you), that is perfectly fine. Remeber, this is all *voluntary*, no one is forcing anyone to do or see anything (besdies the studios wanting to control what you see, that is)
    • by mcg1969 ( 237263 )
      No, I don't feel a parallel, because there is none.

      In the case you're stating, the Church was preventing people from seeing the original artwork---even if they wanted to, and were fully aware of its supposedly "naughty" bits. In this case, there is no such force involved. Nobody is preventing anyone from seeing the unedited version. In fact, this DVD player can in all likelihood play both the edited and unedited versions!

      This is about enabling choice, not restricting it. Just like I can buy the director's cut of Apocalypse now, now it would seem I can buy the preacher's cut as well :)
    • I disagree... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TedTschopp ( 244839 )
      The orignal is not hurt by putting in code which would skip certain parts. This isn't censorship becuase it allows the orignal to still be viewed. Ted
  • (1) combo DVD/VHS player. Less than four hours of use. Plays CD-audio, mp3 CDs, plus more. SVIDEO output, stereo audio outputs, front panel video input. Region 1 player, no known key combination for region-free coding found yet. Inquire by email. 27" console stereo TV included free of charge.

    Hollywood just lost me for good. Much of their product offends me and they want to force it down my throat. Well you know what they are a depensible luxury, I don't depend on them like I do food and water so out the door they go. I have been enjoying life without cable TV for two years and now I'm chucking the player. And the TV.

    Good-bye. And please stay away.

  • having your content altered to suit your audience if they're willingly choosing it?

    This reminds me of that rental store that had movies with swear words etc edited from them. They got sued for that.

    I'm an artist. I don't like changes to my work. But if somebody says "I'd like it this way, several other people would too, so I'm going to make the changes myself and save you the trouble..." then my attitude is "Cool! My audience expanded!"
    • Okay lets take a movie like Saving Private Ryan or Schindlers List and take out the naughty violence, oops you have just rendered to great films complete crap. Sure for some movies the violence is completely over the top, but for others it is an integral part of the movie.

  • by VividU ( 175339 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:07PM (#5192197)
    This is the same principle as those folks who rent out edited DVD's so junior never lays his eyes on a female breast.

    This is the same principle as those folks who would "colorize" a classic Black & White film to make it more appealing the general massses.

    A artist should have a right to have his creation be experienced unaltered. Unless of course, the artist himself has made the alterations.

    This is a simple case of artistic integrity. It is the directors name that scrolls on the screen at the end of the movie.

    If you don't want to watch something, do what our president said to do "Turn off the on button"!

    Of course, this is Slashdot, where people find a million and one reasons and rationalizations to cut, copy and paste the creative hard work of others.
    • Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TedTschopp ( 244839 )

      So what do you have to say about Network Television editing movies for Broadcast Television. Why hasn't there been such a huge outcry?

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:43PM (#5192429) Homepage Journal
      A artist should have a right to have his creation be experienced unaltered.
      You don't think a viewer has a right to alter his own perception?

      If I don't have the right to filter a movie as I play it back, then perhaps I also don't have the right to watch it on a dusty screen in bad lighting, or on a screen of the wrong aspect ratio that adds black bars. Perhaps I don't have the right to wear sunglasses when looking at a painting. (Even blinking might be bad.) Perhaps I don't have the right to listen to music on crappy speakers, or lossy-compress it, or sing along with it. (If you've ever heard me sing, you know that "Screaming For Vengeance" sounds a lot better when I'm not around.)

      Perhaps I don't have right to view a web page without the ads, or to have my browser override a stylesheet. Perhaps I don't have the right to view a web page unless I agree to download and install whatever plugins it wants so that I can experience the page as fully intended.

      I think there's some point, within the my personal domain, where all the artist's rights end. At that point, everything that comes in becomes mine to lightly process or heavily mutilate, however I please. It would probably be foolish of me to butcher the works, but that's my decision to make. I cannot harm the artist; I can only harm myself.

  • by Vegan Pagan ( 251984 ) <[deanas] [at] []> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:10PM (#5192223)
    In 1990 Nintendo tried to prevent the sale of a cheating device for the NES called Game Genie. Nintendo claimed it violated copyrights by modifying game code. They lost the case because Galoob, GG's vendor, proved in court that it did not modify the games, but merely altered their operation while it was plugged in. This sounds like the same case, and perhaps the maker of this DVD player could refer to the Game Genie precedent.
  • This looks more like licencing the use, in their own terms.

    The next Hollywood slogan seems to be "All your movies belong to us" or something like that
  • by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:12PM (#5192235) Homepage

    I love the part in the article linked to [] where the ClearPlay CEO talks about watching movies with his kids and being uncomfortable with the language. Excuse me? You're watching R-rated movies with your kids and you all are uncomfortable with the language? Here's a tip: watch G-rated movies. That's what the rating system is for. Here's another tip: don't let your kids watch anything but G-rated movies if you don't want them hearing bad language. It works in my household.

    Then there's the part in the ZDNet article about "Hollywood shouldn't force its paying customers to watch those scenes." Excuse me? Last time I checked, Hollywood has not forced me to watch anything. If you don't like nudity and violence in your movies, don't watch R-rated movies. It's simple.

    To the real issue, though, it seems that there is no difference between CleanFlix and ClearPlay. Both want to profit by creating derivative works of copyrighted material. ClearPlay isn't some magical filter that automatically detects bad language and lots of flesh. It is a subscription service that will filter out movies that they have "edited". Same thing, different approach. Expect Hollywood to smack them down.

    Use the rating system folks. It's your friend.

    • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:34PM (#5192359) Homepage
      I disagree - the major difference here between CleanFlix and ClearPlay is that they aren't actually providing edited content, they're allowing you to edit your content - I don't care about CleanFlix one way or another (again, this is a choice of whoever is buying the film), but I can see how they're on pretty shaky legal ground. ClearPlay is different - it's similar to having an index for a book that lets you know what chapters to skip. I see no issues with this, since the choice to use it rests soley with the user (contrary to what some people think, artists don't have some magic right to dictate how I view thier work). Maybe it is stupid, and someone who wants a service like this would be better off just not watching the movie - but so what? If someone wants a movie with the nudity gone, who gives a shit? They paid the money, they can watch whatever bits of it they want.

      Artistic integrity is a smoke screen - while I believe it's certainly possible that some directors are pedantic enough to feel this affects them in some way (you wouldn't believe how silly some of the ones I've worked with got), they need a good smacking. Your creative control ended the moment I gave you (indirectly) money for my DVD. If that bothers you, don't sell your movie and insist on private screenings in controlled theatres

  • by Trickster Coyote ( 34740 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:13PM (#5192249) Homepage
    ...when you do it to yourself. It's called freedom of choice. It's only censorship when you prevent someone else from seeing it.

    If I set my /. settings to filter out Jon Katz stories, that's my choice -- not censorship.

    If I fast forward through commercials on a taped broadcast, that my choice -- not censorship.

    If I want to use a DVD player that imports an edit list that filters out the naughty bits, that' my choice -- not censorship.

  • Given the US court system is (and always has been) a legal crap shoot - e.g. the judge you get is far more important than the law - no one can tell how this will turn out.

    However, I believe the smart money is on the "censors" in this case, because they aren't actually modifying the media. Again, just like with Google's page rank system and "net nannies" sold to private parties, this is simply another form of "opinion" they're peddling. And in general, you can't sue people to change their opinion. (Or rather, you can, but it won't do any good.)

    Speaking of oddities however, it's been quite a while since I've seen something as surreal as a Microsoft employee complaining about Google's "monopoly" against Search King []. Dahlia Lithwick seems to think that court case is somehow much closer than it seems to me, which scares me because she has real legal training, so maybe the courts really are going to start forcing people to alter or not publicize their opinions.

  • Didn't you know? Hollywood producers/directors are doing everyone a great big favor by educating the planet with their well-balanced world-view. If someone filters or otherwise make any changes the movie, how will their propaga^H^H^H^H^H^H enlightenment work correctly?

    We're trying create a brave new world here people, get with the program...
  • WHAT!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by utahjazz ( 177190 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:15PM (#5192266)
    I do believe its everyone's right to do what they wish with their own media

    It's not 'your own media' dude.

    When you download Linux, you DO NOT OWN IT. Copyrights are ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You only have rights to it, as granted by the owner of the material, and this is how it should be.

    I'll give you a wonderful example. Brigham Young University decided to show Schindler's List to the students. Except, they wanted to show their own version, with all the "offensive content" removed. Speilberg said "no way", and he was fully within his rights to do so.

    If copyright owners are not allowed to control what happens to their work, we could not enfoce the GPL. Free software would die.
    • Re:WHAT!? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:37PM (#5192376)
      Spielberg could make the request because showing a movie in front of a large audicience is considered distribution, and thus under copyright, they would need a license from Spielberg to do it. It was then his choice not to allow the distribution of a derived work (kind of like with software licenses).

      This, however, is not about that. There is no copying or distribution - the DVD player simply plays the movie, which is legally obtained, a little differently. In theory, it is no different then fast forwarding past the parts that are considered harmful (or maybe even closing your eyes) - do you think Hollywood should have the right to tell us that is illegal?

      This is not copyright law as it was intended. This is yet another step in the media industry's battle to turn copyright from "I own the right to duplicate this information" to "I own YOU whenever you are in contact with this information". It is quite horrible that there are people like you who actually seem to support the latter definition.
    • Well, you need to tell the studios to quit saying 'OWN NOW ON DVD' in almost all those dvd ads on TV.

      Looks to me like the people selling the product are implying that you own it after you pay for it.
    • Re:WHAT!? (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's not 'your own media' dude.

      Bzzt. It's yours if you bought it. The copyright owner no more has the right to stop you from not watching the naughty bits than he does preventing you going to take a leak during the mushy scenes in Top Gun.

      When you download Linux, you DO NOT OWN IT.

      Yes you do. If you want to recompile it so that the TTY outputs in Klingon, no one has the right to tell you not to. If you want to not compile in support for an Appletalk network, you don't have to (even if the standard build you grabbed has it). Likewise, if you buy a copy of the statue of David and want to slap a pair of Levi's on the poor guy - hey, it's your statue.

      Brigham Young University decided to show Schindler's List to the students. Except, they wanted to show their own versi"offensive content" removed. Speilberg said "no way", and he was fully within his rights to do so.

      Perhaps they didn't have the right to broadcast, or to render it for public showing. But if you wanted to buy a copy, and then watch it in fast forward while standing on your head drinking a Pepsi, that's again your right.
  • by SB5 ( 165464 ) <freebirdpat@ h o t m a i> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:15PM (#5192267)
    Does this mean that I will be able to get Japanese porn that doesn't pixelize the genitals?
  • Personally, this issue doesn't bother me nearly as much as a lot of other recent news.

    I think when a director releases a film, it's their 'work of art' (whether or not it's a good film) and should be left in tact. They choose the scenes, the camera shots, and yes maybe the gratitious sex, violence, etc. - but their intention is for you to see it the way they, and the studio choose to. And if they choose to do a "Director's Cut" later and add/edit content - that's their choice, as it was their project, they own the rights, NOT the consumers.

    If you don't like 'x' content, then your freedom of choice is to NOT watch the bloody nothing, not to edit or create your own version. You don't like what's out there, then go to film school and learn to make your own movies, but leave another artist's work alone.

    Go ahead, flame away, but I think everybody likes to scream and rant about 'my rights', 'me me me!" and forget others have rights and protections as well.

  • And yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:17PM (#5192282)
    "They want to prevent the sale of a special DVD player which can be used to edit out offensive material from a DVD in realtime."

    But they want to require the sale of special DVD players which edit out foreign material from a DVD (ie. region lock-outs).

    I knew the MPAA and the DVD Consortium were two-faced, but this is just ridiculous. About the only common trait between these two positions is the elimination of options from the consumer marketplace.
  • by Traa ( 158207 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:17PM (#5192283) Homepage Journal
    I could see that Hollywood is taking this approach to get a foot in the door for when the more interesting filters start appearing. For example, given the direction that modern advertisements are going I can forsee a future where they become an integrated part movies (they sometimes allready are). It would be in Hollywoods favor to have a case on it's side that helps the ban of 'advertisement-filters'.
  • by FurryFeet ( 562847 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:17PM (#5192286)
    If you do a Google search for news on this device, you'll find out that the movie studios have nothing against it. In fact, they'd like to sell movies to parents that wouldn't buy before because of mature content.
    The suit is being pursued by several directors who insist they have "moral rights" on their films. Now, from their perspective, the device is akin to someone covering the Venus of Milo's breast, or putting duct tape over Goya's Naked Maja. They claim the movie is art.
    So, save the kneejerk reactions and start posting nice.
    For the record, I disagree with the suit, and I think all the device does is automate what I can do myself anyway. I can fast forward boring/sexual/violent parts anyway and they can't do a damn thing about it, so I can't see the problem in making the process more efficient.

  • by adaknight ( 553954 ) <lee@g n a> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:31PM (#5192337) Homepage
    Check out this legislation [] - an amendment to the DMCA that will allow exactly this sort of fair use under the law. I hope it passes.
  • by lildogie ( 54998 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:34PM (#5192353)
    I have a partner who has combat-related PTSD. Artillery, automatic weapons fire and PBR's in a movie will trigger nightmares.

    It would be nice to be able to pre-mute the soundtrack, at least. It's often hard to dance on the mute button to get the dialog and avoid the rat-a-tat-tat.

    This was a particular issue with the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy." Mostly a charming tale, and the war scenes did have artistic merit, but we would have enjoyed the non-war parts of the movie much more if we could have squelched the guerilla warfare sound effects.

    My point being, it's not all about porn. There are more diverse motivations out here.
  • We need to add a simple scene scripting language to open source players.

    The players would have to identify the movie inserted, and select a script based on it. The script would, at first, simply be commands like:

    At frame 5,342 mute
    At frame 5,370 unmute
    At frame 8,330 goto frame 9,010
    At frame 10,377 place a black square(x1,y1,x2,y2) with ID 1
    At frame 10,402 move and resize square ID 1 to (x1, y1, x2, y2)
    At frame 10,700 remove square ID 1

    There could be other options such as only viewing a section of the window, zooming it, pixellizing instead of blacking out, etc.

    Such a simple script language could be represented in an XML file and database. You could attach ratings to each particular script action, such that the end user could say, "I don't mind profanity or violence, but cut out the hardcore sex."

    Not only would such an open system allow 'clean' editing (which could be added to a centralized database, much like FreeDB does for CD listings) but you could offer your own move edits - shift scenes around, cut out jar jar, etc.

    • Of course, I should have known that scriptable dvd players were already available from Microsoft and Apple:

      Microsoft offers DVD playback control through Directshow and the MSWebDVD ActiveX Object [], which, among other methods, gives you the ability to start a playback session with defined start and end points down to the frame. This is likely the method Clearplay uses, so they don't have to pay for a DVD player license - they simply control the one that is registered with DirectX 8.

      Apple's DVD player is scriptable to some extent with ActiveScript - a tutorial of the process [] is available. I didn't look closely enough to determine whether it could go to the frame or not...

      I'm sure many linux players can be controlled while playing from the command line, which could easily be scripted, but I doubt current players allow for frame control, and it appears as though none of these methods provide interrupts for when the specified section is done - meaning that you'll be polling the current play time every frame so you don't miss a cut.

      MSWebDVD looks like it'll be the first, easiest method of performing this function, and it would have the widest audience for acceptance. Once people get this function for free on their computers (given that others are willing to create the scripts) then people will be wondering why their home DVD player doesn't have that ability.

      At that point, producers might actually start including the scripts on their DVDs like they were supposed to in the first place - Do you remember when DVDs were first being marketted? One major feature was that the company producing the DVD could put a menu item to automatically cut scenes from the movie for different ratings. Guess what never happened? DVD players can handle it - but no producer's willing to take the time and money.

      It would fix the problem, though, if producers don't want people editing their movies, then they should provide the editings for us. Otherwise, we have no recourse, just as when we had no recourse for watching DVDs on alternative OS's.

  • While I don't agree with censorship in general, I do believe its everyone's right to do what they wish with their own media.

    I would make a distinction between the individual's right to modify in any way works they have purchased, without redistributing them, and the right of a corporation to make big bucks selling a machine that has its sole utility in hacking apart other people's art. I have no problem with a machine that edits and replaces parts of the film with the consent and instruction of the artists, but selling unauthorized modifications to someone else's work is clearly not fair use: this is no different from a third party selling DVDs of modified scenes from the original work, it just includes a handy machine to also hack those scenes into the original DVD for you.

    Of course, these objections are pure hypocrisy coming from the same media giants that speed up movies and squish the credits down to a quater of your screen, if they show them at all, but that's a separate issue.

  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @08:17PM (#5192673) Journal
    If Hollywood wins this, we might have to view all posts at -1.


  • hypocrites (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @08:53PM (#5192898)
    Here's the problem: Hollywood is suing to keep this DVD player off the market. The major studios and the Directors Guild of America are essentially saying that, when you buy a DVD, you must watch it exactly the way it was created--or not watch it at all.

    I could almost agree with this, if only these bastard hypoccrites would stick to this principle when the same movie is shown on TV. There they are quite satisfied to let the networks chop the movie to hell, removing not only critical to the story parts, but also things a lot more tame than things that were shown on "Three's Company" decades ago. (I still remember with disgust that CBS cut two Teri Garr lines from Young Frankenstien - "Thank You" and "Here?, Now?" . The studios let them and likely outright helped them.) If a movie can be censored based on some network idiot's whim and then broadcast to others, then you certainly should have the right to censor your own copy in the privacy of your own home.

  • Gotta wonder... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @08:53PM (#5192900)
    "The major studios and the Directors Guild of America are essentially saying that, when you buy a DVD, you must watch it exactly the way it was created--or not watch it at all."

    I wonder what their attitude would be if one of the words of that quote were changed:

    "The major studios and the Directors Guild of America are essentially saying that, when you buy a DVD, you must watch it exactly the way it was created--or not buy it at all."

    If I were a stockholder in that company, I'd demand to know why they're drawing a line like that for their customers to cross. I mean, if the attitude is "It's our way or the highway", then there's really no reason to think they have customer satisfaction in mind, right? Who'd want to buy a DVD if they're unwilling to listen to people? "Nar, we don't want to put any extras on the DVD. That costs more."
  • What next? (Score:3, Funny)

    by TarPitt ( 217247 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @09:02PM (#5192950)
    Filtering out "-1 Troll" posts violates the DMCA?
  • by Astral Jung ( 450195 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @09:44PM (#5193181) Homepage
    Ok, here's my opinion on it.

    If I own a DVD, it's well within my rights if I don't want to see it all the way through, mute some parts, hear some parts in a provided alternate language track, watch it backwards, or skip over parts I don't want to see. Consider: if I feel that the best way to experience looking at a painting I own is to look at it standing on my head, no one has any right to criticize. You may think me silly, but you can't say I can't do that, even if you painted it.

    Censorship implies that there is a third party (such as the government) interceding and preventing the original art from being shown. In the case of the Brigham Young University viewing of Schindler's List, it is censorship because it wasn't a private viewing by a home video owner, but a public showing, and BYU wanted to censor what it considered offensive. That is a case where the artist has a right to prevent a showing.

    On-the-fly editing is not censorship. If I choose to see the film in such a manner as I see fit, the director has no right to say I can't, because I'm not imposing my view onto others, like BYU was by wanting to show a film deviating from the artist's vision.

    By extension, I think ClearPlay is perfectly legal. ClearPlay is not distributing any version of the film, it is providing a method of playing studio-made DVDs while editing on the fly. The viewer and owner of the disc needs to agree that she wants to see the film in the way proscribed by ClearPlay (by paying the service fee ClearPlay charges), and therefore I consider it legitimate.

    For what it's worth, I wouldn't pay a monthly fee for access to editing filters I can't save or edit myself. I WOULD buy a player or playing software that would allow me to impose my own filter.
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday January 31, 2003 @01:00PM (#5196948) Journal
    First they came for the DeCSS nerds, and I did not speak out - because I was not a nerd.

    Then they came for the modchippers, and I did not speak out - because I was not a modchipper.

    Then they came for the Tivo/Replay users, and I did not speak out - because I didn't have one.

    Then they came for the people who skipped parts of movies, and I did not speak out because I didn't watch movies.

    Then they came for those who didn't want to watch the movie at all.

    And by that time there was no one left to speak out for me.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.