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Directors Counter-Sue Movie Bowdlerizing Company 889

Posted by michael
from the see-you-one-lawsuit-and-raise-you-two dept.
crazyhorse44 writes "The lesser of two evils? 'The Directors Guild of America is suing more than a dozen companies that delete scenes depicting violence, sex and profanity from Hollywood films, saying the process violates federal copyright law. The lawsuit, filed Friday in Denver, was a response to a suit filed last month by Clean Flicks of Colorado, which is part of the Utah-based rental chain Clean Flicks. The company had asked a judge to rule its practice legal, despite protests from several well-known directors, including Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg. Clean Flicks argues it doesn't violate copyright law because it purchases a new copy each time it edits a film and because customers are technically owners of the videos through a cooperative arrangement. The edited tapes also carry a disclaimer that the film was edited for content, the company says.' Whose side to take? The DGA is defending the desecration of many of our favorite films, while Clean Flicks is strongly advocating for the copyright rights of the consumer to edit and/or alter the media that they purchase. At the extreme you have folks who want to eliminate all traces of sex and violence from the popular media against the movie industry who wants to eliminate all property rights of the consumer. Whose side would you take? Links at Salon, USA Today and FindLAW." We've had previous stories here and here.
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Directors Counter-Sue Movie Bowdlerizing Company

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  • A poll? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by compacflt (230312) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:04AM (#4310097)
    This would be a good story to base a poll on!

    My vote is hung, can't decide.

    Compaclft
  • by Corvaith (538529) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:06AM (#4310100) Homepage
    I think, on this one, they're solidly in the right.

    Sure, people have a right to not be exposed to that sort of content. They're free to find other movies to watch, ones that mesh better with their ideals. The idea that they have some sort of right to take a knife to someone else's work... and then /market/ that... seems idiotic, to me. I'm hoping the directors win.

    Now, I have no problem with people doing their own editing. The main issue, as I see it, is that all these little companies are making money off of the destruction of someone else's creative vision. And that... just sits very badly with me.
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Monday September 23, 2002 @06:13AM (#4310253)
      Now, I have no problem with people doing their own editing.

      What Clean Flicks do is nothing more than provide a service editing movies that their customers own. Really, buying from Clean Flicks is no different from renting time in an editing suite and hiring someone to show you how to operate it.

      The main issue, as I see it, is that all these little companies are making money off of the destruction of someone else's creative vision

      By that argument, so is any company that makes equipment allowing someone to edit any tape. All Clean Flicks do is facilitate; it's not as if they are editing, then reproducing the edited movie without the studio getting paid. Every copy they sell is owned.

      And that... just sits very badly with me.

      The question is: do you own the movie, or just the right to watch the movie? If the studio retains control of the media, then that means you only have an license to watch the movie, you don't own it. Clearly that is an indefensible position: if it were true, and you damaged your copy, the studio would replace it for no more than the cost of duplication. That doesn't happen, which suggests that there is plenty of precedent for the movie being owned by whoever buys it, and thus they are free to do with it as they please.
      • by Corvaith (538529) on Monday September 23, 2002 @06:24AM (#4310278) Homepage
        I happen to be a sometimes-writer, and I have good friends who're far more serious about it than I am.

        By your token, because I buy a book, I should therefore own all the contents of the book. This is the reason that copyright law exists--to protect the people who create things.

        Cleanflicks obviously has to be making a profit off of this, or else they wouldn't be in business. (Well, one assumes, though you can never tell anymore.) If they're making a profit, they're making that profit because of the work of the people who created the movies... while not respecting that those people created a specific vision. Yes, sometimes that vision includes violence. You have plenty right to go see something else.

        Ooh, I know. I'm going to go buy a bunch of big long books and cut out all the violence and sex and maybe the boring passages, too, and re-sell them. Of course, I'm not going to stop to ask the author what they think of this; it's my right to free speech, right? Forget the rights of the original creator. Forget, for that matter, their feelings, or that they're even human beings at all, because it's so much easier to think of them as the Evil Movie Industry whose sex and violence are so damaging to our precious little children.

        In personal use, you're not making money for doing it. You do it for yourself, your family, sure. When you start doing it to make a buck, then you're doing the very thing that copyright law is designed to prevent.
        • by spongman (182339) on Monday September 23, 2002 @07:34AM (#4310448)
          i think what he's saying is that if I buy your book then I should have the right to rip a page out. And I believe that under current copyright law I am alowed to do that. Further, I should be able to pay someone to do that for me: perhaps I'm disabled, or as is the case here, I'm not an expert in ripping pages out of books.

          If the director's case is uphelpd, then wouldn't it also be a breach of copyright to sell any book that didn't contain each and every letter it originally contained?

        • by Hope Thelps (322083) on Monday September 23, 2002 @07:45AM (#4310477)
          By your token, because I buy a book, I should therefore own all the contents of the book.

          Yes, that's right. If I buy a book and I want to tear out pages or cross through the boring bits or color in the pictures or fold over the corners where the dirty bits are, or write in the margin why the author was wrong... yes, I can do all that because it's my book.

          This is the reason that copyright law exists--to protect the people who create things.

          Copyright law prevents me from copying your works, it doesn't (or shouldn't) stop me tearing out the pages in copies made with your permission and purchased by me.

          Cleanflicks obviously has to be making a profit off of this, or else they wouldn't be in business. (Well, one assumes, though you can never tell anymore.) If they're making a profit, they're making that profit because of the work of the people who created the movies... while not respecting that those people created a specific vision.

          That's right, just like I can buy a car, respray it, replace the seats and resell it. Oh no, profiting without respecting a 'specific vision' how terrible. If you don't want me to modify a car don't sell it to me, clear?

          Yes, sometimes that vision includes violence. You have plenty right to go see something else.

          Yes, including the right to watch the bits of this I like and not the bits I don't.

          Ooh, I know. I'm going to go buy a bunch of big long books and cut out all the violence and sex and maybe the boring passages, too, and re-sell them. Of course, I'm not going to stop to ask the author what they think of this; it's my right to free speech, right?

          Yes, go ahead.

          Forget the rights of the original creator

          No, they keep all their rights intact. What's that got to do with you mutilating the books you own?

          Forget, for that matter, their feelings, or that they're even human beings at all, because it's so much easier to think of them as the Evil Movie Industry whose sex and violence are so damaging to our precious little children.

          What are you on? This has got nothing to do with them being evil. By all means respect their feelings BUT people really really are entitled to buy books and burn them specifically to hurt the feelings of the author if they want to. No, not pleasant, but hard to believe though it may be hurting people's feelings isn't a crime and I hope it never will be.

          In personal use, you're not making money for doing it. You do it for yourself, your family, sure. When you start doing it to make a buck, then you're doing the very thing that copyright law is designed to prevent.

          Rubbish. Copyright law was about protecting an income stream in order to encourage the creation of works. It was never about protecting people's feelings from people who were making money without
          "respecting their vision". The idea is completely without foundation.
          • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:11AM (#4311166)
            If I buy a book and I want to tear out pages or cross through the boring bits or color in the pictures or fold over the corners where the dirty bits are, or write in the margin why the author was wrong... yes, I can do all that because it's my book.

            Granted. But what if you want to sell that book later? Is it still the same book you bought?

            Used college textbooks sell for 1/2 to 2/3 of the price of new texts, even if they're the same edition and only a single semester old, for this reason: by applying your edits to the book, you're decreasing its value to anyone but yourself.

            That's right, just like I can buy a car, respray it, replace the seats and resell it. Oh no, profiting without respecting a 'specific vision' how terrible. If you don't want me to modify a car don't sell it to me, clear?

            A car is not a copyrighted work. Your analogy is poor and misleading.
            • by siskbc (598067) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:10AM (#4311683) Homepage
              Dunno if you've been to college at all or recently, but any student I knew would much rather buy a used textbook - not only because they were cheaper, but because if the prior owner was at all intelligent, then it really reduced your workload by the book being well-highlighted. New books almost never sell until the used ones sell out. So the edited version has more value.

              In the movie example, how would clean flicks stay in business if they decreased the value of the movie? They buy a movie at standard retail and sell it for more. And obviously they have customers. That's the definition of value-added.

              A car is not a copyrighted work. Your analogy is poor and misleading.

              A car may not be copyrighted, but it's fairly irrelevant, because there's no part in copyright law that prevents resale (Used record stores still exist). There's also no part that says "upon resale, work must remain intact." So, since copyright law makes no guarantee of creative integrity, the car sees the same protection under law: ie, NONE.

              So I'd say the guy's analogy looks pretty good.
            • by GoofyBoy (44399)
              A car is not a copyrighted work. Your analogy is poor and misleading.

              Actually a car is. Its standard to do this with any sort of design which alot of work has been put into, like a design for a building.
              If it wasn't, you can be sure there would be tonnes of fake, cheap, imported Corvettes running around.
            • Granted. But what if you want to sell that book later? Is it still the same book you bought?

              Used college textbooks sell for 1/2 to 2/3 of the price of new texts, even if they're the same edition and only a single semester old, for this reason: by applying your edits to the book, you're decreasing its value to anyone but yourself.


              You seem to be opening a whole new can of worms. If you sell a book that you have torn pages from or written in, should that be illegal? You say it is of less value? What if Jim Morrison wrote poetry in the margins? Isn't that more valuable?

              And what about the used book sellers? They are buying used books and reselling them at a profit and the author never sees a dime. How many times can you resell Darwin's The Origin of Man before it's worn out? Should the publisher be paid for each resale?
      • The question is: do you own the movie, or just the right to watch the movie? If the studio retains control of the media, then that means you only have an license to watch the movie, you don't own it.

        The media is owned by you. The media is merely a vessel for the content it contains which is owned by the copyright holder. First sale doctrine merely applies to the media, not the content. I think a book serves well as a good example of this. You can buy a book, cut up the pages into little words, and then paste the words in any fashion you desire and sell your new 'book'. You can not, however, buy a book, OCR/scan/retype the content into your word processor, make whatever changes you desire, and then start printing up new books with 'your' modified content. In the first example you're playing with the media itself, in the second you're playing with the content. The difference is in the letter of the copyright law.

      • If this were a case of customers editing copies of movies which they had bought, or even paying someone else to do so, I'd be on the side of Clean Flicks et al. However, Clean Flicks is renting the altered versions to their customers.

        They are thereby profiting not from providing an editing service but from the art iself, as edited by them and without respecting the wishes of the artists. That is a plain violation of copyright and it is not covered under fair use.

        • It's already been shown that it's legal to rent movies that you own, even as a corporate entity. What they are showing now is that it's legal to edit property as a personal or corporate entity. If it is legal for individuals to edit their property, and it is legal for individuals to rent their property, then it is legal to rent edited property.

          The only case in which the rental of edited property would not be within the rights of the property owner is when they are misrepresenting the rental item - such as editing it and then claiming it is the full movie.

          -Adam
          • Mod parent up. (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mr.Intel (165870)
            If it is legal for individuals to edit their property, and it is legal for individuals to rent their property, then it is legal to rent edited property.

            Nail, head, hammer. This is where the DGA will find some hot water they don't want to swim in. If you have noticed, the MPAA is staying out of it because of this very thing. Rentals are a huge revenue stream for them and they don't want to touch it with a ten foot pole. It is the 'holier than thou' directors who claim 'artistic vision' that want this kind of thing squashed. MPAA sees that the money in it is minimal except in conservative areas of the country (Utah being the prime example). They may even try to do this themselves if the market segment becomes profitable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:07AM (#4310101)
    is there a sister company called Dirty Flicks, which makes films consisting solely of all the bits they cut out?
  • Whose Side (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alistair (31390) <alistair@noSPaM.hotldap.com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:08AM (#4310103)
    "At the extreme you have folks who want to eliminate all traces of sex and violence from the popular media against the movie industry who wants to eliminate all property rights of the consumer. Whose side would you take?"

    This is an easy one, you quite clearly take the side of the consumer, even though in this case you may not agree with their use of their rights. Free speach is to be supported, even if no one person could support, say, the racist and anti-racist uses that this may be put to. So first you support the fundamental principle and then you critisise those who would use that right for what you may consider to be "the wrong ends".
    • "At the extreme you have folks who want to eliminate all traces of sex and violence from the popular media against the movie industry who wants to eliminate all property rights of the consumer. Whose side would you take?"

      Step back and look at it carefully. These are TWO DIFFERENT ISSUES.

      The first one is simple. It's censorship.

      And while you're right that we need to support free speech, you've got exactly backwards who we need to support. Here, in order to protect free speech, we have to support the directors.

      Editing the films against the express wishes of the directors and copyright holders is simultaneously a violation of copyright law AND censoring their creative works.

      Censoring someone else is NOT an exercise of free speech, but an infringement of it. You have every right not to watch a film if you don't like it's content, but that does NOT mean you can chop out what you don't like and then redistribute it.

      In order to protect the fundamental principle, which you are correct must be the priority, the only choice is to side with the creator, not with the censor.

      The SECOND issue here is what constitutes fair use.

      Under fair use, it might be argued that as long as you paid for a copy of the film for your use that you might be able to edit a copy of that copy and watch it yourself without what you didn't want to see, but that's still not at all clear.

      But fair use doesn't ever permit you to redistribute any copy of the film to anyone else, regardless of whether there is any profit at all, because it's NOT YOUR FILM. It's only your COPY of the film. Possesion of the copy doesn't give you the right to edit the original work.

      That's why copyright is called copyright to begin with. It spells out who has the right to control both the distribution AND THE CONTENT of a work.

      The only reason TV stations are permitted to alter content without express consent of the director is because there are statues that dictate what content may be shown on broadcast television, and it is understood that when a network pays for the right to broadcast the film that a certain amount of editing may be required in order to meet the statutory guidelines. Within that context they are granted a certain amount of leaway that they sometimes take advantage of in ways that also leave directors unhappy, but that they usually tolerate.

      This is an entirely different scenario than the one under debate related to rental distribution. Since there is no overriding legislation regarding content with rental distribution, there is no legal basis under which to alter content without express consent of the copyright holder.

      This doesn't mean that we should by any means support the Directors' Guild uniformly in all of their arguments about fair use. Some of the restrictions they want preventing users from making any copies whatsoever for their own use DO violate fair use, but this particular issue is not one of those.
      • The first one is simple. It's censorship.

        From what I understand, it's not. Censorship is what happens when people *deny* other people the right to see the sex and violence. All Clean Flicks does is edit the films *at the request of the customer* (who already owns the film, by the way). The customers retain their right to see the original versions. Unless I'm missing something, I don't see how that is censorship at all.

        This is different than Blockbuster editing films, which is censorship, because when that happens, suddenly it becomes difficult for customers to see the original version.
      • by weslocke (240386) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:02AM (#4310711)
        Hmm... don't get it.

        Censoring someone else is NOT an exercise of free speech, but an infringement of it. You have every right not to watch a film if you don't like it's content, but that does NOT mean you can chop out what you don't like and then redistribute it.

        So this means that I can sell a copy of Ender's Game (Great book by Orson Scott Card, btw) on Ebay (Since I bought it) when I'm done. But since the shower scene was disturbing, I ripped those 5 pages out. So now I can't sell it?

        You're telling me that the only way I could get rid of this book is by throwing it away then? Aren't you forgetting the fact that I would be clearly letting people know that those pages are gone, and that those people would actually have to come to me to get this copy with a brutal murder removed from the book?

        Is it censorship when the people viewing the material have to make an effort to have it that way? Or is it simply a matter of choice for them? They'd rather watch a hacked up movie than one with those scenes in... You and I wouldn't want to, but then again we wouldn't be patrons in this store in the first place.

        But fair use doesn't ever permit you to redistribute any copy of the film to anyone else, regardless of whether there is any profit at all, because it's NOT YOUR FILM. It's only your COPY of the film. Possesion of the copy doesn't give you the right to edit the original work.

        Hmm... you can't redistribute originals of the materials you buy? Did you check that out?

        They go buy a tape. They edit that tape. They sell/rent that tape. Selling/Renting copies is not a factor here.

        Personally, I'm squarely on the side of the rental store.

        1) They bought the tapes, they can do with them what they like short of selling/renting copies of those tapes.
        2) They aren't pushing for censorship of the source material (unlike 5,000 other groups out there). They have their own 'acceptable copies' and quietly rent those out to people of like minds.
        3) They aren't forcing their views on others, indeed customers have to seek them out.

        After all, what are they doing that a fast-forward button in the hands of some evilly moralistic moviewatacher couldn't do?
  • Those silly americans are suing everyone for everything.. there is always only one winner in the end and that's a lawyer. He always wins.
  • by hol (89786) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:10AM (#4310108) Homepage Journal
    C'mon - this is not an issue. I will happily take the side of someone arguing for end-user rights. Full stop.

    Just because a company who is willing to defend this right decides to sanitize films for overprotective parents does not make them less worthy of it. Further, the fact they make those sanitized films puts me under no obligation at all to be their customer.

    We should be supporting them if we agree with the goal of making copyright law more sane, and protecting the right to use products that we purchased, not questioning what they do with that right.
    • Let's say a company spliced books for their customers with all of the unwanted pages ripped out? How would you feel?

      How about a library that carried Playboy bacause they felt the articles were worthwhile, but removed the racy photos?

      I'm not asking about taste, but the act itself. Is what this company is doing any different than taking a felt-tip to your own copy of a book/magazine?

      IMNSHO, the company isn't any differnt. They aren't selling copyrighted works as their art, but performing a service on privately owned media containing that art.
    • by Tet (2721)
      We should be supporting them if we agree with the goal of making copyright law more sane, and protecting the right to use products that we purchased, not questioning what they do with that right.

      Speak for yourself. I don't support them, and I don't believe you should either. Despite all the bile that's been spewed up here, this has nothing to do with end user consumer rights. No one is attempting to restrict personal editing here. The changes aren't being made for personal use. What they're objecting to is a commercial company modifying and then reselling (or republishing, if you like) their copyrighted work without their consent. That seems a pretty reasonable objection to me. After all, you don't expect Readers Digest to be able to publish an abridged version of a book without the consent of the original author and/or publisher. So why do you expect Clean Flicks to be able to do it?

      • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john.oyler@comca ... minus physicist> on Monday September 23, 2002 @07:18AM (#4310387) Journal
        I'm saving a copy of this post to use as an example, as proof, so that when someonoe claims a low userid implies some sort of wisdom, I can show this and shut them up.

        Me, I have trouble understanding why anyone would ever want to watch half a movie, or for that matter, the worst half of it. I'd object if they tried to force me to watch it, or criminalized the search for an uncut version.

        You on the other hand, want to force people to watch parts of movies they'd rather not watch. Hell, you want to do this even when it might violate their religious practices in addition to their civil rights.

        You see, you can't ask someone to edit their own movie, that they'll later watch. It kind of defeats the purpose, if you have to first watch the parts that you are trying to avoid watching. Duh.

        Not to mention, it penalizes those that don't have the skill to edit it themselves.

        Or interferes with a private transaction between two individuals when one is selling a legal service to the other. Think about it. If I hire someone to rip pages out of the Reader's Digest for me, what right does anyone have, to interfere?

        And, as for the original slashdot question, I'll go to bat for the goody2shoes consumers on this one, no hesitation. The sad part is, even with a fair judge, CleanFlicks is dead as a company. That's what I hate about the judicial system in this country... the penalty isn't something imposed after you lose the case, it's the trial itself.
  • Unfortunately, these days I wouldn't be surprised if an infants first words were "sex" instead of "mama" or "papa". Why? Most media has gone way too overboard with sex and profanity in films. Sure, when I'm with the guys its fine but if there are little kids even around in the house, I don't want to have to censor that stuff. Before anyone goes off on me about censoring content let me just say that it is my children who I deal with and raise so I *will* censor anything even remotely obscene. Movie houses such as these allow movies to be played without the worry of junior sneaking around when watching such films at night.

    Anyway, I fail to see how profanity/sex is an art form in films. Without those scenes, I don't lose any meaning to the film. If I wanted that stuff, I'd rather go get pr0n instead. Furthermore, I can still censor this stuff w/ a fast forward feature. How is hollywood gonna stop me now? Oh wait, some DVDs don't allow you to time advance!
    • Before anyone goes off on me about censoring content let me just say that it is my children who I deal with and raise so I *will* censor anything even remotely obscene.

      I completely agree, they are your children and you have every right to decide what's appropriate and inappropriate for them.

      Anyway, I fail to see how profanity/sex is an art form in films. Without those scenes, I don't lose any meaning to the film.

      You don't watch too many movies, now do you? Have you seen American Psycho? What would that movie be without sex? Sure you could take the profanity out of that movie with a slight problem, but the sex? I really sugest reading the book, there's alot of stuff that WASN'T in the movie. Also, how do you determine what words to take out of a movie? What happens if you're watching a movie about the KKK? Will you take out the word "nigger" and any other racial slurs you find?

      Foul language is much stronger than regular words (otherwise they wouldn't be considered "naughty" and no one would care who said them), it helps show great conflict and hostility. If you heard someone in a movie say "Stop you big jerk! Hey you big jerk why don't you listen to me!" you'd think "well he's asking the guy to stop and he's kinda annoyed at the person." now if you heard the same person say "Hey you fscking a**h*l* I told you to fscking stop! Why the fsck won't you listen to me!" the message becomes MUCH stronger and you think "WOAH he's REALLY pissed!"

      Fsck is a hard word to replace, it can be used many times in one sentence to make the sentence much stronger, there aren't many words like that. You could say "Hey you stupid fsck, what the fsck is wrong with you, you stuck the PCI card in the wrong fscking slot and you fried my fscking ram!" which would be way more effective (at showing anger, not saying people will respect you for this language, it's just easier to show an emotion this way) than "Hey you stupid idiot, what the heck's wrong with you, you stuck the PCI card in the wrong darn slot and you fried my stupid ram!" That sentence doesn't sound like you just lost $800 in computer equiptment, it's just terrible.

      Then what happens when you've got a movie, and one of the character's is a "bad" person (drug lord, gang leader, theif, pop singer, you get the picture)? They're supposed to use words like "shoot", "darn" and "crap"? That would be WAY out of character.

      Sorry for the rant, it's just that you don't seem to understand movies are usually a reflection of the real world, when people in the real world stop using profanity then people in movies will stop using it, when people in the real world stop having sex, there won't be any movies cause we wouldn't be able to continue the species (duh!).
    • >Unfortunately, these days I wouldn't be surprised if an infants first words were "sex" instead of "mama" or "papa".

      Actually, an infant's first word has nothing to do with what words they hear and what their surrounded by. The reason "mama" and "papa" are the first words an infant learns, across a myriad of different languages, is because 'm' 'p' 'b' are the three easiest sounds to make -- it's simply the infant learning motor cordination of their lips and closing them while exhaling; and then, naturally, 'a' is the default vowel you get ("now say aaaaaaah") when you connect your consonants together.
      It's the parents who then narcissistically assign importance to the utterances; the child gets all this attension whenever they make that utterance, and they learn the concept of getting attension by forming "words"

      For a child to have "sex" be their first word, they'd have to learn to control their lips and the front of their tounge to channel air such that it makes a pneumantic hiss, then propell the back of their tounge up to cut off airflow, and then return it to it's origional position immediately -- without relaxing with a vowel first.
    • by Lars Arvestad (5049) on Monday September 23, 2002 @06:52AM (#4310337) Homepage Journal
      In order to provide a child friendly SlashDot environment, I have taken the liberty to improve Critical_'s comment. Please mod down the original. Thank you.

      Unfortunately, these days I wouldn't be surprised. Why? Most media has gone way too overboard. Sure, when I'm with the guys its fine but if there are little kids even around in the house, I don't want to. Movie houses such as these allow movies to be played without the worry of junior sneaking around when watching such films at night.

      Anyway, I fail to see. How is hollywood gonna stop me now? Oh wait, some DVDs don't allow you to time advance!

  • Who's side? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RumGunner (457733) <rumgunner@DALIhotmail.com minus painter> on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:11AM (#4310110) Homepage
    You're either "FOR copyright facism" or "AGAINST censorship." I think I'll choose against censorship.

    I think we've had more than enough puritanism. If you don't want your kids to see violence or sex, don't show them the bloody movie. Read them a book or something. Or would that be too much work for parents?

    .
    • Re:Who's side? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by idiotnot (302133)
      You're either "FOR copyright facism" or "AGAINST censorship." I think I'll choose against censorship.

      This is not censorship. Only a government can censor. This is unauthorized re-editing, then re-selling that product you didn't produce, but modified.

      I think we've had more than enough puritanism. If you don't want your kids to see violence or sex, don't show them the bloody movie. Read them a book or something.

      If only more people would do this....

      Or would that be too much work for parents?

      Sadly, in many cases is the answer is "yes." That's why we've got V-Chips in televisions, a television rating system that was created under duress (Senator Lieberman said Washington would act if Hollywood didn't do something), and the Communications Decency Act.

      I agree, though, editing films to remove sex and violence without permission is wrong. If the directors want to target the audience these editors are serving, they'll edit the films themselves. In fact, it would be in their benefit to do so, as it expands the available market for their product.
    • Re:Who's side? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SmokeSerpent (106200)
      Its not censorship if you choose not to view something, whether by averting your eyes or by hiring an agent to cover them for you. No one is being forced to view the "sanitized" version instead of the original.
    • Or would that be too much work for parents?

      yes
    • Re:Who's side? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110)
      Is that like "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose?" You've said that someone must either be FOR the studio's right to prevent editing, or you must be AGAINST people doing editing.

      For one thing, it's not censorship. There are plenty of movies today that come in an "R" rated version, and an Unrated version. So when you see that there is an "R" rated version, is that what you consider to be censorship?

      Can you understand that someone might not want to watch the sex and gore? Do you understand that people under 18 do not have the right to watch, listen, or read anything explict unless their parents choose to allow them to do so?
  • I'd take (Score:2, Insightful)

    by job0 (134689)
    Clean Flicks side. They've bought the video each time and no one is forced to buy the cleaned up version are they? What's the difference between this and with people doing their own editing. They are simply providing a service.
    • GPL (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fleppir (563959)
      I don't remember directors releasing movies under GPL, so why should anyone be able to tamper with their work?
      • Re:GPL (Score:5, Insightful)

        by OrangeSpyderMan (589635) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:58AM (#4310218)
        I don't remember directors releasing movies under GPL, so why should anyone be able to tamper with their work?

        I genuinely believe that I should be able to do what I want with a product once I've bought it, as long as I do not tred on the toes of the person I bought it from.

        Example: I buy a book. I should be allowed to lend it to a friend, tear pages out, write notes in the margin, strike out paragraphs I don't like or aren't interesting to me. Hell I should even be able to sell or give away my copy because I freakin' paid for it. People may not want to buy my copy if I've torn pages out or struck out certain paragraphs but if they know I've done this and still want to buy it then no-one should try and stop them buying it or me selling it.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:14AM (#4310118) Journal
    I've always wondered why censorship is needed if proper age limits are set. Perhaps the discussion shouldn't be whether we can see the movie without censoring or not, but if they have the proper age restrictions. I've found it strange that here in Sweden, we have the highest normal restriction at an age of 15 when we are minors until 18. Still, movies with extreme violence are shown without problems to 15 year olds. Heck, I'm sure 14 year olds can watch the movie without too much trouble as well.

    When we have the "proper" age restrictions (where it's another story to decide how to set them), I definitely think we should have no censorships. I can decide what to watch and not. If I had bad experiences from an extremely violent movie, I would never think "Oh, why didn't they protect me from that scene by censoring it!?" but instead "Why did the director keep that unnecessarily violent scene".
  • On the one hand, you have the movie companies protesting at their films being hacked about in the name of "decency", and on the other you have the people who claim the right to chop rude bits out of films if they want.

    Clean Flicks don't seem to expect us all to watch their films. If it was the BBFC or its American equivalent, stating that *all* prints of these films must be edited, that would be different. However, they seem quite happy to leave others alone and give customers the choice to watch an edited version.

    Now, that's fair use, isn't it? It sounds like fair use to me. The company aren't passing off the films as their own, just removing bits their customers may find offensive. I'd say they had the right to do that - as long as, as they say, they have one copy of the complete film for every one copy of the edited film.

    I can't see many of the films making much sense afterwards, though. You could watch "9 1/2 Weeks" in about 20 minutes...
    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:21AM (#4310144) Journal
      Not tricky at all from the side that matters: the public's side. People who want movies without the profanity and whatnot now have a choice. The rest of us can still rent the smutty versions at our local video rental. This is not censorship, and it isn't any different from TV stations editing out naughty bits or beeping out cusswords.
      • So I can take your post, modify it in any way I like, and then repost it *under your name*?

        The problem is not really copyright infringement, it's misrepresentation. So I think the company should be allowed to rent or sell edited versions of the films, but they should be forced to change the titles, the name of the producer, the names of the actors, etc. if any of those people insist on it.

        If I wrote a novel and someone bowdlerized it and then published the result under my name, I'd be pretty peeved.

        Danny.

      • This is very different than the TV Stations showing edited versions for one important reason:
        When you see something in an edited form on TV, it has been edited with the direct consent of the Director of the movie, and they often had a hand in the editing themselves.

        Clean Flicks takes a movie that is not theirs, edits it, often poorly, without anyone's consent, and resells it to customers. And that's the other important point.

        Fair-use is fine, as long as I am not trying to make a profit from the movie. If I want make a copy of tape to give to a friend offended by more pureile parts, and I leave them out, that's fine. But if I'm trying to sell the copy, and pass it off to people then I am infringing on a copyright.

        It would be no different than if someone were to take an O'Reilly book, replace a few words here and there, remove a chapter, and try and sell the thing as the original. It's not legal, and it should be stopped. Clean Flicks should get consent from the directors before doing what they do.
      • it isn't any different from TV stations editing out naughty bits or beeping out cusswords.
        They're doing THAT???

        What country do you live in? I'm never gonna go live there...

      • This is not censorship, and it isn't any different from TV stations editing out naughty bits or beeping out cusswords.
        One of my favourite all-time movies is The Breakfast Club. I loved that movie, growing up in Australia. It was always shown in its original four-letter form.

        One time, when I was visiting the US, I had the unfortunate experience of watching it on TV with all the naughty words altered. It completely ruined the emotional impact of the movie.

        Such editing should not be done without the permission of the director. Not by Clean Flicks, and neither by TV stations.

    • Afaik, "fair use" is a right that individuals have, not a right that businesses enjoy when they're selling or renting (i.e. profiting commercially from) copyrighted material. So no, this does not fall under fair use.
  • Hubris (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quintessent (197518) <my usr name on toofgiB [tod] moc> on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:17AM (#4310125) Journal
    The studios release differing versions of movies for a number of purposes:

    TV
    airlines
    for release in different regions

    They release "unrated" versions of movies like American Pie on DVD.

    Yet, somehow when consumer groups ask for versions of videos that are more "family friendly" (say, the same versions they provide for TV or airlines), the studios turn their noses up.

    Finally, people get fed up with this and someone begins to profit by providing what people are asking for. The studios realize that someone else is making a profit and turn their lawyers loose.
    • Re:Hubris (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Corvaith (538529)
      Maybe their efforts would be better turned, then, towards making movies that don't have violence and sex as a part of their plotlines, as so many do today? (The ones that it's not a part of the plotline, it generally takes up so much space anyway that you'd probably end up with a five-minute short if you cut it all out.)

      If you don't like what's in a movie, you're within your rights to not watch that movie. There are good movies out there that don't have all those elements in them. Your desire to not see anything violent does not mean that Peter Jackson has a responsibility to cut out all the battle scenes in Lord of the Rings in order to let you watch it.

      Nor does it mean that another company should be able to change Jackson's work to better suit your tastes.

      I think more movies without the overload of sex and violence that we often see today would be a great thing. I don't think that gives third parties the right to cut out all the bits they don't like and then re-market films that they don't own the rights to.
  • by weave (48069) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:20AM (#4310139) Journal
    Broadcast TV does this all the time.

    btw, I'm almost tempted to buy Pulp Fiction from them. I think the entire movie would be about 5 minutes long -- the scene where honey bunny is talking about blueberry pankakes.

    Nah, scratch that, they aren't married and are in a hotel together. OK, the boring cab scene.

    "I'm American, our names don't mean bleeep"

    • i'm sorry to inform you your pulp fiction fan club membership has been revoked.

      honey bunny (amanda plummer) does not talk about blueberry pancakes. the blueberry pancake girl is butch's girlfriend, fabienne (maria de medeiros).

      also, the cab scene focuses on how butch feels about killing a man. may not be appropriate for someone who rents a clean flicks film.

      obontopic: i would have to side with the directors and studios on this one. this is censorship. i know, i know, the movie studios probably already have too much power in our society, but this is a total mangling of their creative output. it has the same movie name, it has the director's and the actors' names on it, but it is not what they made. if you're a parent looking to show a (say) pg-13 movie to your 9 year old, do the right thing and watch it for yourself and then decide if you can show it to your child. if it has some objectionable parts, then DON'T SHOW IT TO THEM. or do what my parents did and tell me i should cover my eyes with a blanket. :)

      also, i'd like to know how certain credit issues work out. for example, in true romance i don't think brad pitt is seen on screen without marijuana or under the influence of drugs. if all his scenes are excised from the movie, do they take him out of the credits? also, legally speaking, do you think the writer is able to claim a form of misattribtuion. after all, if there are cinematically important developments in the story such as a character dying or two characters having sex that are removed, the story really is different, isn't it? in fact, it probably won't even make sense.
    • by Microsift (223381)
      Broadcast TV gets permission to do this, therein lies the difference.

      What I'd really like to see is Clean Flicks version of The Fountainhead. Would they remove the scene where Roark destroys the buildings he designed because someone else altered his design?

      I wish these people would edit the sex out of their own lives, it would do wonders for the gene pool!
  • by phr2 (545169) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:21AM (#4310145)
    People are in a huff about Clean Flicks because what's being edited is sex and violence, which gets one side yelling "smut!" and the other side "censorship!". But really, if it's what the viewer wants to watch, cutting the sex scenes out of doesn't seem worse than cutting Jar Jar Binks out of Star Wars 1. Best of all (but probably not feasible) would be if the edited movie was delivered as an edit list on the same media (e.g. DVD) as the unedited original, so the viewer would always be able to choose which version s/he wanted to watch. The edit list would just tell the player to automatically skip parts of the movie, if the user enables it.
    • by phr2 (545169) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:26AM (#4310155)
      MAI Software was the ridiculous decision that by loading a program from disk to RAM in order to run it, you're making a temporary copy, and therefore need further permission (in the form of agreeing to an obnoxious EULA) before you can run a program you buy.

      Clean Flicks is presumably copying the original film in the course of making its edit. If they win this case, it shows that such temporary copies aren't infringement after all. That could get rid of the MAI ruling, which would in turn make a lot of awful EULA's unenforceable.

      I am supporting Clean Flicks on this one.

  • by C64 (130005) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:22AM (#4310146)
    If you really feel that watching a movie the way you perfer it even though it differs from the original presentation is wrong, well, listening to a CD outside of it's original presentation on the CD is wrong, too.

    For all the babbling that goes on here at Slashdot about fair use, for someone to even question what ClearFlicks is doing is "right" really blows my mind (Well, it would if this weren't Slashdot).

    Do I like what they're doing? No.
    Do I have plans on buying movies from them? No.
    Is it wrong for people to do what they want with their PROPERTY for their own private use? NO.

    I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways people - either you agree that we have our fair use rights, or we don't. So what if someone is doing something that you feel is Bad(tm) on artistic grounds? It's their choice to make - let them waste their money how they see fit, just as I should be allowed to waste mine as I see fit.

    No one's forcing me to watch their bastardized verion of a movie - I see no reason someone should be forced to watch the original.

    • It's suddenly private use when you start renting them out to other people, and selling them?

      Funny, that's not generally what I consider private.

      It's one thing for, say, a mother with some A/V experience to edit out a few scenes she doesn't want her son seeing. It's another for a business to edit things out and then sell them.
  • Lets Be Reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cyberllama (113628) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:24AM (#4310148)
    Who does it hurt if people want to purchase (rent) a mutilated copy of a movie to watch? While I think most would agree they are short-changing themselves, I hardly see how this could be hurting anyone else. A legitimate copy of the movie has been purchased, so Royalties have been paid. A disclaimer is shown so people don't blame the inevitable crappiness of the movie on the directory. Honestly, I ask, what is wrong with this?

    I frankly don't see any victims(other than the suckers renting this watered-down crap). And if you do see a problem with this, What about other movie edittings (I recall a certain edit of Star Wars Episode 1 that was rather popular involving, or should I say lacking, in a certain Mr. Binks)?

  • by fleeb_fantastique (208912) <fleeb&fleeb,com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:24AM (#4310149) Homepage
    Anyone remember Woody Allen's _What's Up, Tiger Lily_ film?

    He took a terrible Japanese film and redubbed it with his own words to make the film considerably more enjoyable. Pretty heavy editing, that could have gotten him in some kind of trouble if Hollywood manages to succeed in their bid to keep people from editing movies.

    Then there's Mystery Science Theater 3000...

    • Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and, presumably, similar "reworkings" of films such as What's Up, Tiger Lily and Steve Oedekerk's horrid Kung Pow) exist because the producers of them got permission from and/or paid a license fee to the original copyright owners.

      I have no objection to people creating their own derivative works based on movies they have bought. But I don't see how a for-profit company can justify doing that without the permission of the original copyright holders. The "we don't actually OWN the movies, we just perform the service of editing them" defense seems pretty flimsy to me and I wouldn't expect it to hold up in court.
  • by pvanheus (186787) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:33AM (#4310165)
    "At the extreme you have folks who want to eliminate all traces of sex and violence from the popular media against the movie industry who wants to eliminate all property rights of the consumer."

    No, this is a clear misstatement of what's going on here. Clean Films, etc, are not removing anything from "the popular media". They're producing an alternative version of the popular media, for consumption by their customers.

    In the past, the US-based religious right has launched verbal attacks on Hollywood. The response of many people to the religious right's arguments has been that if you don't like it, don't go and see it. Now, Clean Films are providing a third way: you can now see a version without the bits you don't like (a bit like the "Phantom Edit" does for Jar Jar Binks haters).

    What Clean Films is doing is in fact an example of the classic liberal remedy for "bad speech": more speech. For myself, Clean Films' products, like "Christian Rock", will no doubt be aesthetically unpleasant. But I applaud their creativity in finding another way forward besides the bigoted "Clean Up Hollywood" crusades of the past.

    The Director's Guild's actions here are plain and simple attempts at control, in an era when the technology has opened up new avenues for participation in popular culture. They're trying to maintain a simple "push" model of production, and a extremely simplistic and philosophically untenable notion of the director as solitary "creative genius". I REALLY hope they lose this one.

    P

    • Copyright law gives the copyright holder exclusive rights to distribute their content. This lawsuit has nothing to do with censorship or the rights of consumers to play with content. Whats at stake here is copyright law itself. Can I alter copyrighted content, claim value added, and then distribute my content as a derived work? If I can, do *I* then have a copyright over the content?
  • by ites (600337) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:36AM (#4310174) Journal
    This discussion has nothing to do with 'artistic control'. It is about money.
    The studios do not like a third party assuming any kind of editorial control over their content.
    Someone has discovered a good market and is making money from it.
    The studios are suing to try to regain control. As usual, Hollywood is reacting to events instead of leading them.
    It is hard to sympathise with either party here: the studios are using lawyers instead of their imagination.
    Clean Flicks are acting like mullahs. But no-one is being forced to chose their versions. Maybe a better comparison would be DJs who remix other's music.
    The obvious solution is for the studios to give consumers the choices they want and are willing to pay for.
    Knowing Hollywood, this is unlikely to happen fast.
  • by NightWhistler (542034) <alex&nightwhistler,net> on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:39AM (#4310181) Homepage
    So let's get this straight: the directors want you to watch every part of the movie, just because they made it?

    So when I watch pr0n I can't fast-forward the 'dialogs'?
    Better start stocking up on good books... ;-)
  • Choice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by beswicks (584636)
    What Clean Flicks are doing is really just about expanding the choices consumers have.

    Directors do not really get the final say on the cut of films anyway, the studios do, thats why there are so many 'directors cut' editions released when a film becomes 'big'.

    They are marketing the films in a completly upfront way and they are not selling via 'normal' outlets. People are not going to confuse these films with the 'real thing'(tm) so its a non-problem.

    Whats next, fast forwarding and leaving the room being made illegal as you may not get the directors true 'vision'?

    c.
  • I honestly hate both. They are both treating customers as clueless children, that must be beaten into submission.

    Also, I am not surprised the Clean Flicks company is based in Utah.
  • by jdbo (35629) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:41AM (#4310187)
    ...of censoring films, I have little problem with this "in concept", as it is voluntary on the part of the renter.

    In practice, however, I get a sinking feeling in my belly at the idea that censored versions of "cultural works" (movies, books, whatever) will be going into wide distribution (not sure how wide, but certainly wider than it currently is should this be judged a legal practice). this uneasiness is compounded by the realization that community pressure will push people towards only renting from the "nice store" that doesn't push "dirty movies" (yes I'm caricaturing, but social pressures _do_ work this way).

    I would much prefer that the original version of the movie be distributed on DVD, along with a DVD playlist that can be used to playback a "niche audience" version (similar to "play widescreen/fullscreen").

    I see this as actually being a significant enough market that some sort of modified DVD player that accepts a separate CD (containing one or many "alternate cut" playlists for a film) could be a strong seller, with several bonuses:
    • variable cuts could be made for different community standards (some people don't like sex in movies, some don't like violence. some don't like both, some are OK with both, but hate the dirty words. this system could serve all of these groups without having to dub multiple copies for each audience, or use complex controls (and no, it is not reasonable to ask someone to update a text-based config file in order to watch a movie. sheesh.)
    • the "closeted" uncensored-movie viwer (living in areas where the censored store is the only video outlet) could watch their PG+ fare with impunity
    • the studios can't claim distribution-based copyright infringment, and (once more) the original cut option is still there...
    • unlike the 100 posts discussing how one could do this using DeCSS + misc. linux utilities, this could be watched on a home entertainment system without having to deal with the fershluggin' computer.
    • no generation-loss transfer issues

    As far as this case goes (IANAL etc. etc.), I see the achilles heel as being the cooperative ownership aspect. That seems to fall right in the zone of judicial judgment (please correct me if I'm off), and the entertainment industry has all those scary lawyers who know exactly which judges to push the case in front of, not to mention plenty of other dirty tricks.

    (In short, both sides suck, and everyone should listen to me.)
    • The problem is that the producers of this content are not interested in the marginal revenue that could be generated by producing edited versions of their creations. Sadly, this leaves a gap in what people want to view as compared with the products that are offered by the studios. As a result, people turn to a company that is offering what consumers want. I have no issue with cleanflicks in this case.
  • by silentbozo (542534) on Monday September 23, 2002 @05:43AM (#4310189) Journal
    The slashdot blurb is misleading - the DGA represents the directors, not the corporations - hence the crap about robbing consumers of their rights by pushing DRM is complete hogwash. What we have here is a bunch of people who want to watch the latest movies, but who are unwilling to watch the whole thing (due to hang-ups about sex, violence, etc.) They want to live nice "clean" lives, and don't want to see the movie as the director intended.

    Lacking the know-how to do it themselves, they happily employ the services of this company, which has made big inroads among certain communities, and is making this business of chopping films for consumption very profitable. It's getting to the point where the movies the directors make are not getting to the end audience they way they intended.

    Traditionally, the way the directors handled these cases was pretty much - tough, that's my film, if you don't like some of the material, you're welcome not to watch. It was up to the individual. Here, you have what arguably is a distributor (the "co-ownership" agreement aside, which I would argue is purely a legal device), dictating what the audience sees.

    "So what?", you say? "The audience wants them to edit the films for them!" Well, there are several different takes on this issue, so let me re-frame the situation. People want web-filters to block "unsuitable" sites as well. Does that mean we should support web-blocking, since the blocking only happens by request of the end-user? Perhaps.

    What about a bookstore with "sanitized" versions of popular works? Would you support that, even though it violates the writer's moral rights (after all, you have changed their work WITHOUT their permission.) Some of you would probably find that distasteful, or even disingenuous.

    Personally, I find the practice disturbing. It's bad enough people choose to ignore history and reality, without enabling a practice that effectively filters out ideas and images, on popular media. What's next? Editing out minority populations (language and violent situations are already a casualty on movies and cartoons screened on network and even cable TV), replacing dialogue, or even characters?

    Yes, much of this already happens with the blessing of the media companies (partially because they want to cater to this restrictive audience.) The directors gripe and grumble, but in the end, they can try and deliver DVDs and Videos that capture the vision of what they wanted to deliver. This service takes that control away, and puts it in the hands of a third party censor, who then effectively controls the vision of what is seen by this particular population.

    In the end though, I guess what really bothers me is the attitude that these people have. It's the kind of attitude, I want to consume all I want, but I don't want to deal with the consequences of my consumption. Or, to rephrase it for these folks, they hate Hollywood and everything that it stands for, but they want to be entertained anyways. Arguably a good business opportunity, but not one that I would personally support. :P
    • Oh, and to those of you with little kids to whom you want to show "Saving Private Ryan" - do the smart thing and JUST WAIT UNTIL THEY'RE OLDER.

      After all, it isn't like there's a shortage of G-rated fare you can show them. I'm sure the director would thank you also, for respecting his/her work, and allowing your kids the full experience of seeing the films as you probably saw them. Those of you adults who would rather edit all the gore out for yourselves, please read my previous post.
    • That plugs between your VCR and your TV set. Most of the time the box does nothing and just passes the signal through. But if you want to watch a "cleaned up" movie, you play the movie on your VCR and enter the movie title (or catalog number) into the box when you start the tape. The box just passes the movie through, except at certain times that are programmed into it, it mutes the sound and blanks the video for as long as the scene takes. It instead shows some text on the screen saying that the scene is being blanked because that's what the viewer wanted. When the "offensive" part is over, the screen goes back to normal.

      How can anyone call that any kind of infringement? Is it infringement to close your eyes during parts of a movie you don't like? Editing stuff on the tape is just an easier way to do that.

  • I don't mean to sound like a troll, but I h-a-t-e Utah. Visiting Utah is like visiting a state governed by the senior management of Walmart Inc. It's a big Wonder Bread eating, media censoring, money hungry slab of land that has produced one too many Osmond kids.

    I hope those directors win. I don't care how crappy or violent modern movies are... film is an art, and censoring art is ridiculous. People need to learn how to interpret art properly. Moreover, people need to teach their kids how to interpret art properly.

    Let me put it this way. Pulp Fiction needs Sam Jackson saying "freak'n" and "heck" no more then the statute of David needs a pair of boxer briefs.
  • Let me see if I can boil this down a bit:

    Note: I haven't seen a cleanflicks film but have heard about them from others who have. Please read the following accordingly.

    Clean Flicks takes a video owned by their customer, cuts a few specific chunks out of it, splices it back together (minus the chunks) and gives it back to the customer.

    There has been no duplication of the video. In fact, the video has been legally purchased from a legal source. The only modification was the removal of the material, and perhaps a sticker stuck on the front of the tape to say "hey this isn't the full version, we've removed some stuff from it".

    I can understand why a director might not like people messing with the content of their movies. What I don't understand is what leg the copyright holders think they have to stand on. If I buy a video and decide to cut chunks out of it before I watch it what business is it of the directors? Similarly, if I want to pay someone else to cut chunks out of it, again, what business is it of the directors?

    I could possibly understand the complaint if CleanFlicks were marketing these as the uncut, unedited versions, but they aren't. In fact, they are being very up front about what they are doing. The cutting service is what they are in fact selling, not the videos themselves.

    Personally, I think the studios/directors/etc. have brought this on themselves. Back when DVD's first were coming out, part of the selling points was that movie studios could release multiple copies of a movie on a DVD, say a edited-for-tv version and a regular version.

    Where are the edited-for-tv versions? There are a LOT of movies I would buy if I could purchase a copy on DVD which was somewhat cleaned up. I'm sorry, I just don't need to see or hear some of the images and/or language which hollywood seems to feel they need to put in movies (I get enough of that reading slashdot).

    Technically, providing a cleaned up version alongside the full version on a DVD shouldn't be a big issue. Putting a edited-for-tv soundtrack on a disk as an additional language track alongside the commentaries and the half-dozen languages wouldn't be a big thing space-wise. Likewise, I suspect that setting up some sort of automatic "play only these scenes" when in "edited" mode should be doable, although I'm not a DVD mastering expert.

    Note that I'm not trying to say that noone should watch these things. What I am saying is that I would like to have a choice over whether I watch a complete, unedited version, or say a complete version but without every other word being something you wouldn't say in mixed company, or even a "hacked up for TV" version that I might dare recommend a family watch with their kids.

    The only two options the studios have provided for me today is to watch the movie or to not watch the movie. Cleanflicks is trying to provide a third option for those who want it. If the studios would have provided this option via DVD or some other technology, CleanFlicks probably wouldn't even exist.

    I also would submit that a lot of the people that buy movies from CleanFlicks probably wouldn't buy the same movies if they weren't edited for content. As a result, I suspect that CleanFlicks is probably *improving* the bottom line cash-wise for the directors and for the studios. How can this be a bad thing?

  • Imagine a DVD player that can be programmed to skip scenes or to bleep out sounds for a second or two. Now imagine that the instructions to do this can have be downloaded into the player.

    Then all Clean Flicks can do is to sell the edit instructions, and not touch the DVD at all.

    Clearly the player should be set up that a movie without edits could not be played, unless you knew sme password...etc. Then we could all see the alternate edit of "Phantom Menace"...

    I wonder how this would be made illegal? :-)

  • In the 80s, before mainstream net, and definitely before mp3 and streaming radio, I and my friends would buy lots of CDs.

    We all know at, at most, only half of the songs on each CD were worth listening to. What we did was make compilation tapes from various CDs.

    You would not believe the care and consideration that went into the making of hese tapes. Each tape had a theme. Each tape was designed for a specific experience.

    We would borrow each other's CDs to get the right songs -- and in the right order. The tapes ended up being quite personal in nature, so we usually didn't end up sharing the tapes -- unless the tape was made specifically for that other person (usually of the opposite sex).

    But, everyone once in a while, usually while riding in a car, someone would ask, "Hey, that's a good tape! Can you make me a copy?"

    I even had a mixer and two CD players so I didn't have to pause between tracks. I just time it right and the tape was one continous muscial experience.

    What Clean Flicks is doing is not at all fundamentally different from what I did in junior and high schoool. They have my support.

  • Anime fansubs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Froobly (206960)
    Anime fandom has the well-known process of fansubbing -- making home-made subtitled versions of Japanese videos. This involves changing what is put up on the screen (by overlaying subtitles) and then distributing the output to the end consumer.

    If CleanFlix can't sell paid-for copies of movies that have been altered, regardless of poor taste, then where does that put fansubbers?

    I agree that CleanFlix have used their legal powers for evil, but these powers are ones to which they should be entitled, regardless of intent.
    • Re:Anime fansubs? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Saxerman (253676)
      As a member of a group that creates and releases fansubs I can tell you that we exist inside a very murky area of the law. We only distribute subs of anime titles that have not yet or will not be released in the US. Once an anime title is released in the US we stop distributing the work. This is for a copy of reasons. The primary reason is that before a title is released over here the copyright holder is in Japan and therefore does not have a US copyright on their work. Once the copyright holder sells the rights to allow some other entity (including themselves) to distribute in the US they now have a duly authorized US copyright holder. Its a pain in the butt for a Japanese copyright holder to attack a bunch of fanboys in the States. Its business as usual for a US company to get us.

      On top of this we have a fairly good relationship with the major anime distributors in the US. Primarily because we DO stop distributing titles once they're released. Before release we're giving them free advertising. After release we're cutting into their profits.

      So we do NOT have the right to distribute fansubs, but we're tolerated as long as we play fair. This status will likely change if Anime continues to become more popular and more money is involved.

  • It's perfectly legal to take free software and modify it. But it's not ok to take (say) the Apache code, introduce a few thousand security holes into it, and then distribute the resulting binaries as "Apache".

    Similarly, whether you think it should be ok to do anything to films, surely it's not ok to take Citizen Kane, cut arbitrary portions of it out, and then redistribute the result as Orson Welles' Citizen Kane...

    Danny.

    • Umm... almost none of the companies that use apache source code market it as apache, and it looks to me like Clean Flicks simply edits the video for the customer, or provides pre-edited videos, which they inform the customer of. They are not just reselling a different version as their own. What is the difference between Clean Flicks and the fast forward button?
      • almost none of the companies that use apache source code market it as apache

        Exactly. And nor should people be distributing modified versions of (say) Pulp Fiction as Pulp Fiction, not unless the director is ok with it. That's just straight-forward misrepresentation.

        What is the difference between Clean Flicks and the fast forward button?

        The fast forward button is private, Clean Flicks is not.

        Note that I'm not saying people shouldn't be free to modify, parody, etc. films as they feel free - I just don't think copyright is the only issue.

        Danny.

  • I'm a writer myself, and if someone would do that to my stories I'd go tell them to go and read something else. It's my brain child, and if I put scene thus and so in it, I did it for a reason, and if you don't like it, bad luck. Write something yourself, but don't rape my story.
    However, a screenplay/ scenario-writer is making a half-product. He knows it's going to be altered in many ways before anybody ever sees the film based on his work. In this case I'm not sure where the artistic responsibility lies, but I guess in Hollywood, this would be with the producer and/or director. They have last say, and if they're all right with people changing things in their stories which might alter the gist and meaning of a film, well, so be it. It does say something I guess about which way of the balance you're on: artistical integrity don't touch my baby or fork over the money please are the two extremities of this balance.
  • I have to wonder how long these films are after processing on average?

    So long as this company doesn't affect the whole industry, that's no worse than someone buying into one of those "protect your children" censorship companies. (The parallel stops when legitimate sites become censored without the consumer's knowledge...but then again, what other things ARE being blocked besides sex and violence? Product placement too? The consumer may never know...)

    But back to the original question: How long are these videos after editing? I think it would be interesting to see what happens to the story when you remove the violence from, say a Steven Segal movie. I have this eerie feeling there are a lot of 'trailer' sized movies with really bad acting as a result.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2002 @06:16AM (#4310259)
    I am usually proud of being a geek, and I've worked quite a bit at trying to fight geek stereotypes throughout my life, but for God's sake it is exactly this kind of story that makes me embarassed to be part of this community.

    How can anyone here seriously take the position that the consumer is wrong here? After all our fights against the DMCA and DeCSS and GPL code that supposedly empowers us, why is this community suddenly getting cold feet when someone decides to use those rights to produce a product that we happened to find silly?

    I mean, really, isn't this the kind of behavior that we should be encouraging? The religious right sees a bunch of movies that they don't like. And for once, their reaction is to simply fix what they find wrong for viewing within their own community of interested viewers. They aren't trying to get movies banned; they aren't trying to get YOU to stop going to the movies. They aren't even asking you to watch their edited version of the movies! (Though, of course, you are free to do so if you wish.) Isn't this exactly the kind of consumer-centered decsion making that we are supposedly fighting for? Wouldn't you prefer this solution, rather than this group trying to somehow force their edited-down versions to be official?

    Besides, where was all this sudden concern over the sanctity of movies when geeks were making spoofs like TIE-tanic, or recutting the Star Wars trilogy, or making any of the thousand Star Trek "lost episodes" by putting new dialog to old footage? Oh, but someone uses this same technology and allowance of law to recut a movie in a way that you happen to not care for, and suddenly you're on the side of the RIAA?

    Please.
    • The big difference is that no one is out there selling copies of 'Troopers'. The Phantom Editor doesn't have a video store in Utah saying "Better Star Wars Here, only $5". It would be consumer-centric if the movie companies started (gasp) using the power of DVD players to show multiple versions of the same movie. Certain chapters that would play only if you chose the 'unrated' or 'R' rated versions. Edited by the editor of the film (and/or the director and/or the studio) in a way which the *owners* (and hopefully creators...) of the material approved. Encouraging the ABILITY for *me* to edit *my* movies? Yes, we should be doing that Encouraging me to edit someone elses movie and then sell it? No.
  • You can bet whatever will degrade and demoralize society the most will win. Ahh, no one really learned from the Greeks, Romans and many great Civilizations before us. Alas, we poke fun at which will destroy us.

    kbye,
  • Fight for whichever side allows you to ADD more sex, violence, drugs, CGI, pr0n, etc. to any movie you want.

    Way too easy. Now, which side would that be?
  • The artistic vision of films should be pure and untouched by human hands.

    That having been said, the copyright system was set up to ensure the original authors of works were justly compensated for their effort in an effort to generate more works. I fail to see a part of copyright law that explicitly covers artistic vision. Of course, if I remember my legal course correctly there does remain untransferrable works for hire rights, such as the right to have their works represented in a way that doesn't defame the author or oppose the author's original intent. This appears to do neither.

    And as hollywood releases thousands of edited-for-TV movies every year, apparently they aren't opposed either.

    Would I personally use such a service? Not a chance. But then again, I don't have kids, and I do have enough time to research the movies I plan on watching. I would be deeply annoyed if I accidently rented such a movie: I just finished watching a broadcast version of "Coming to America," and the edited New Yorker's language just didn't seem realistic.

    The companies that do this aren't reselling movies. They are editing original copies and renting the cuts, keeping the originals as backups. The argument is not whether tiny, 5 person companies have the right to profit off of giant companie's profit engines, but rather whether the consumer has the right to decide what they want to see even if that disagrees with the original author's stated position.

    In this case, the consumer should be given the right. If the violence, sex, and language are pivotal to the plot (such as in Memento), then the meaning of the scenes will continue. If it is integral (such as Boogie Nights), then the movie won't be rented anyway. Either way, this is not an FCC mandate doing this, but what the people want. I personally want the option to turn off the cheezy patriotism in Spiderman, and Jar-Jar in episode one. To me, both of these movies would be better without them. To others, that one movie would be better without that unnecessary sex scene between the main character guy and the spunky girl just before she gets captured. If they have the right to fast forward through them (and yes, Valenti, they have the right to fast forward through them) doesn't that mean they have the right to not see them at all? Can't they transfer that right to a trusted 3rd party?

    Censorship is about taking away control. Editing movies in the way that a select group of people want for the benefit of that select group of people is about giving control. We may not agree with their choice of cuts but that just means we should start our own editing services.

    Don't fool yourself into thinking most directors have final rights over editing... Sony, AOL Time Warner, and Disney get the final call. Sometimes they are good calls, like the addition of the "Singing in the rain" sequence to the above titled movie. And sometimes they are horrible, such as the narration added to Blade Runner or the missing 6 hours of Dune. It isn't a precise science: they are put together by people, for people. Shouldn't people be the ones with the rights?
  • by radja (58949) on Monday September 23, 2002 @07:47AM (#4310481) Homepage
    if TV networks can insert ads in a movie (I highly doubt the director meant for those tampon commercials to be in there), then cleanflicks can remove offensive content. both change the content. I fail to see the difference.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:34AM (#4310608) Homepage

    Let's imagine that you've just made a small film on a shoestring budget. For the sake of argument, let's say that it's a biting socio-political expose of the corruption in industry and goverment.

    Now here comes Microsoft. They buy copies of your film, redact the parts that they don't like, and release them with your name on it, and slap on little "Edited to remove adult themes" stickers.

    If they have the marketing muscle to make their version more readily available than yours (and they do), then they can de facto change what you said. Sure, if they're buying a copy of your original every time they sell a redacted version then you make money, but perhaps that wasn't your intention. By bringing money into it - whether you ask for it or not - they also paint you as a whore ("We've already established what you are, now we're just discussing price"). They can simply buy your rights away from you, even if you don't want to sell.

    That's perhaps an extreme example, although you can take it further (what if they start adding scenes?). But it illustrates the limits of fair use rather nicely. While I'm fiercely in favour of individual fair use, I do not believe that fair use covers commercial editing and duplication, simply because allowing it for arguably good intentions opens it up to abuse for rather henious ones as well.

    • by Chops (168851) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:39AM (#4311929)
      A more accurate analogy would have them slapping "edited to remove socio-political expose" stickers on the side (since Cleanflicks seems to be honest about what they're doing.) Oh, and also "they" are the tiny shoestring operation (Cleanflicks), and "you" are Microsoft (Hollywood) -- your entire analogy hinges on the editing people being powerful enough to displace the "untainted" copies in the marketplace, which simply isn't happening here.
      They can simply buy your rights away from you, even if you don't want to sell.

      What rights are those? If you don't want someone cutting up your movie, and possibly reselling it, don't sell them a copy. That goes whether "them" is Joe Blow or Microsoft.
      commercial editing and duplication

      What duplication? You seem to be talking about situations that do not exist.
  • by gaj (1933) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:17AM (#4310773) Homepage Journal
    Seems to me that offering to edit movies that people have already purchased is beyond reproach. As an owner of a copy of a movie, I should certainly be able to make a "clean" version to watch with my family. If I can do it myself, I should be able to contract another to do it for me.

    Rental and sales of already edited movies is another thing entirely. Just as I should not be able to edit The Lord of the Rings, then sell it, and just as I should not be able to change Perl to no longer have regexes and still distribute it as "Perl", I shouldn't be able to edit out the good bits of a movie and distribute the movie. Unless, of course, I got the permission of the copyright holder.

    Fair use is good. Further, Cleanflicks could still stay in business, albeit with a change of focus to the editing business. Further, with appropriate automation, they should be able to turn things around nearly as fast as if they just stocked edited movies. I think preserving the distinction between stocking edited movies and actually producing an edited version of the owner's copy is important.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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