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June 18, 2004
Rep. Smith Introduces Clean Flicks Bill
I've been a huge proponent of the ability of people to annotate and comment upon fixed media for years now. Some technologies that allow this with regard to DVDs has been maturing over the past few years as well, though mostly to permit people to edit out that which they consider offensive. See, Editing DVD Player on Sale Soon. Of course, these technologies are being sued for copyright and trademark violations on behalf of the directors who whine that their droits moral are being infringed upon (though there is little complaint when their work is butchered for the airlines or broadcast in the wee hours of the morning). Recently, congressional hearings were held by Rep. Lamar Smith (R - TX) to consider the issues (Liberals, Conservatives Favor Different Kinds of Censorship). Normally, Rep. Smith is a fan of expansive copyright, but his censorious tendencies made him a fan of this annotating technology with regard to blocking out naughty bits.
A couple of days ago he introduced a new bill to clearly make these technologies legal, for the children, of course (Smith Bill Protects Children). Read the bill here: Family Movie Act [PDF]. Read on...
The key copyright provision modifies 17 USC 110 (Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays):
(11)(A) the making of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture imperceptible by or for the owner or other lawful possessor of an authorized copy of that motion picture in the course of viewing of that work for private use in a household, by means of consumer equipment or services that are operated by an individual in that household and serve only such household; and
(B) the use of technology to make such audio or video content imperceptible, that does not create a fixed copy of the altered version.
The problem with this proposed statute is that it doesn't enable commentaries and/or annotations, but merely enables skipping/muting/blacking out. In so doing, it would most likely ensure that commentaries and/or annotations are illegal. In other words, censorship at home is okay, but heaven forbid you wanted to add additional material to enrich the experience.
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