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' Naughty Bits' Decision Not So Nice

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the expensive-wireless-at-dulles dept.

459

Many readers found stifling Judge Richard P. Matsch's decision yesterday that Cleanflix, a service selling versions of popular movies edited (some would say censored) to remove violence, nudity and other elements, was in violation of U.S. copyright law for selling these edited versions, while others welcomed the decision as appropriately respecting the intent of those who made the original movies. Read on for the Backslash summary of the conversation, with some of the best comments of the more than 1200 that readers contributed to the story.

While some comments evaluated the decision as a victory for filmmakers as artists rather than merely as copyright holders, some readers aren't so sure that directors' and studios' interests have much to do artistic integrity, and suggest that it's primarily their commercial rather than aesthetic interests being served here. TheFlyingGoat makes a case for this view:

"I understand where the movie companies are coming from in terms of copyright... they don't want people taking a DVD, adding additional clips/features/menus/etc, and selling that for a profit. ...

As for the directors and producers that claim their artistic vision was impeded upon, they sure don't have an issue with those movies being modified in the exact same way for broadcast on network tv. All they care about is the large amount of money the networks give them.

So, what this really comes down to is the movie studios wanting complete control over their works, which I'm surprised to see much of the Slashdot crowd backing up. Seems it's better to hate "the red states" than to hate the MPAA."

Whether even the financial interest of the studios is being served by nixing the Cleanflix service, though, is a point that the same reader finds ambiguous, too. [the studios are] "getting just as much money from each DVD sale, so it's not like they're losing any business. In fact, they're probably gaining business from those people who wouldn't normally buy a certain movie due to violent/sexual/etc content, but will if they get an edited version of the movie."

MarcoAtWork says he doesn't swallow the "artistic integrity" argument either, and notes the bizarre script deviations which licensed showings on broadcast or cable television sometimes end up with: "Something tells me that the director's 'artistic vision' for example didn't include Bruce Willis saying 'Yippee-ki-yay Mister Falcon.' in Die Hard, or 'This is what happens whey you find a stranger in the Alps!' in the Big Lebowski."

Anticipating a "kneejerk reaction," reader Brian_Ellenberger has a more aggressive reaction of his own, writing

"Don't approve of this action just because you think it only hurts a bunch of 'right-wing Christian zealots.' Remember fair use! There was a one-to-one copy sold with each of these DVDs---the original and the edited. The filmmakers did not lose one dime, and in fact made money with each copy sold. ... So if we are to argue that, if you bought something you have the legal right to do whatever you want to it (Fast Forward through commercials, play on a Linux box, rip to a hard drive), then you cannot allow Hollywood to start acquiring new rights for their so-called 'artistic vision.' Otherwise, you will find yourself unable to fast forward through scenes (or commercials) because that would violate the 'artistic vision' of Hollywood."

More concise is reader Raul654's capsule description of the result: "If I own a DVD, I cannot pay someone to make a copy of that movie for me sans parts I might find offensive. It's not censorship, because I'm the one asking him to do it for me."

There are plenty of mixed feelings about motives and results in this discussion, though: reader m874t232 says he doesn't like people who "scrub" movies, but he still doesn't like the outcome because of the short-sightedness he perceives in it, writing "For millennia, art has progressed and evolved by taking some prior artist's work and modifying it, often in ways that the original artist didn't agree with. Except for possibly receiving financial compensation for a limited time for each copy created, artists should not have the power to control what happens to their creations after they have released them to the public."

Reader zakezuke took issue with that viewpoint, arguing instead that
"Fair use would be you making a backup copy, putting the one you bought into storage, and using the backup. This is fair use. Heck, even taking a film that you own, making a copy and cutting out scenes you don't like... that is also fair use. What's not fair use is making a copy, cutting scenes, and selling it as a new version without any consent. This is not a one to one copy as there are scenes cut. Money is beside the point... a copyright holder has every right to choose how a work is distributed. This would include not wanting some bozo cutting scenes on a work that took time to create. Any flaws, mistakes, anything which affects the overall presentation can damage the reputation of the respective studio and artists that created the work. It's like taking spray paint to a piece of fine art and going over the bits one finds offensive, this affects the quality of the piece and the viewer might assume the artist is sloppy dolt or doesn't have the technical skill or is too reserved to make a winkle."

Reader spencer1 offers some insight into why people might want to watch movies in other than their all-killing, all-cursing original versions:

"As others have already stated, this has absolutely nothing to do with Walmart. This applies to services such as CleanFlix, which are very popular in Utah and Idaho. I am a Mormon, and I frequent Cleanflix often. Some movies are very enjoyable, but contain bits that I don't wish to see. If the mainstream want to see those bits, fine, go ahead; these services are not for them. If I don't want to see it, how does it affect you? Cleanflix allows me to rent movies that I would not otherwise rent, they are now turning away a potential customer. This does not hurt the copyright holder, they still receive the full purchase price for all the movies that Cleanflix uses. Their revenue is not altered in any way by this editing."

For anyone who has reason to desire a version other than the theatrical release of a film, the decision against Cleanflix doesn't mean the end of expurgation; reader jambarama points out a technical solution which seems much less legally fragile (and which seems to meet zakezuke's objection above), in the form of another service with a similar practical result, but without the messiness of reproducing a derivative work, writing:

"A good alternative for those who don't want their young children to see 'bad' stuff is Clearplay. We've had it for a while, here is how it works:
  1. Buy a normal DVD with all the "naughty bits"
  2. Get the filter from the clearplay website for that DVD
  3. Transfer the filter via USB or CD to the clearplay DVD player
  4. Watch your DVD - the filter tells the DVD player where to skip the naughty bits - no editing, just timecodes to be skipped."

Something similar could probably be put together fairly quickly using programs like Avidemux or VirtualDub for those who don't mind distributing the work of classifying and sharing the necessary edit-decision lists. Reader OYAHHH outlines how such a system might be implemented for those unlikely to apply hand-edited EDLs:

"What somebody needs to do is to devise a DVD player that can read a file delineating where the objectionable parts are on the particular DVD. Once the bad parts are known to the player the player simply skips them.

People who want to view the unedited version are happy and those that don't desire to see whatever content can be happy as well.

The original content on the original DVD is not altered in any manner. Copyright is protected.

Religious groups could then produce the "files" to correspond to their own needs and distribute these files via the Internet. The files are uploaded to the special DVD player."


Thanks to all the readers who contributed to this discussion, especially those quoted above.

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More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701623)

I'm a vocal anti-copyright advocate [nocopyrightstudios.com] and I repeatedly try to get people to realize what most Federal legislation does, especially regulatory legislation: it removes rights from the individual and creates cartelization: legal monopoly. It has happened in every industry that has any form of federal regulation: oil refinery, content distribution, medical licensing, campaign finance rules, even the stock market is cartelized now moreso than every before. Regulation at the national level is unconstitutional regardless of what people think of the non-applicable "interstate commerce clause."

Cartels exist because they have the legal monopoly to do so. Copyright only helps create and empower the cartels -- it has never helped an individual unless that individual was protected by a cartel. If you created a movie and someone wanted to hack it so that more peopl could watch it -- and they paid you for each and every hack -- you'd love it because you are getting income, you're gaining a new audience, and even more profitable: you're learning what people want. DVD players already allow for multiple versions, and maybe companies would start taking advantage of it had it not been for the big cartel that controls the flow of movie productions and releases.

Consider you're that same small movie maker -- if someone copies your movie (with or without hacking it), how would you battle them in court? What money would you use to fight the hacker/pirate/modifier/copyright violator? Is the financial risk of losing in court worth the reward? Definitely not -- more proof that cartelization is always bad.

Stephan Kinsella [stephankinsella.com] made a great case as to why intellectual property restrictions are anti-consumer in his free PDF titled Against Intellectual Property [libertarianstudies.org] . (PDF WARNING) Stephan is a IP lawyer, as well, and has offered dozens of great articles on the problems with IP and how more laws aren't going to support more consumer freedom, better quality products and more competition. When you create federal regulations, you create cartelization. He also has a great non-PDF article from last year titled No such thing as a free patent [mises.org] , which goes beyond copyright but makes very good arguments for why they're all bad. This guy makes his living with the law, amazing that he cries out against it.

While I'm anarcho-capitalistic, I do understand that the Constitution DOES allow regulation of some sort to be created at the state level. This is preferably where regulations "should" be, if at all. The states that over-regulate will see less choice (and higher prices due to decreased supply). The states that don't over-regulate would likely see better choice, safer products and better pricing.

As usual, the federal government oversteps its bounds predictably -- in the direction of cartels. I won't call them "big business" because no real business exists with the help of government. Thankfully the future of the free market is proving to the world that copyright is insignificant to most people: they'll continue to find new ways to distribute all media products "for free," and the producers of content will have to learn the reality of supply and demand: if it is digital, it has a virtually unlimited supply. Put infinity in the supply/demand/price equation and the price will always fall to zero. This means it is time to find new ways to promote value added products along with your content.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (4, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701650)

There are many cases where the only thing worse than one regulation is 50 different sets of regulations.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (2, Informative)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701694)

If George can take your 4th amendment to fight terrorists, Hillary can take your 2nd.


Vote Libertarian [lp.org] .

-Peter

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701721)

I'm against voting [unanimocracy.com] in every way, but the LP is especially bad since their recent reform [lewrockwell.com] that now places them closer to the wackos on the New Right. I believe that all federal parties are corrupt: if you look at what the late Harry Browne did within the LP (stole, lied, defrauded, lied, stole, and defrauded), you'd see that almost all politicians are corrupt, especially at the Federal level.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701840)

Damn it, Adam (and damn it, Lew). I finally took the big-l plunge a couple of months ago. And now you drop this on me.

Aaargh.

-Peter

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701908)

Welcome to the club, either way :) I have a ton of friends who still prefer big-L libertarianism (through legal means) than small-l libertarianism (encompassed by a variety of voting and non-voting ideals). The most recent LP problems are REALLY scary because it seems that some of the paleoconservative and paleoliberal policies of the LP are being usurped by neoconservative and neoliberal thoughts.

Keep a look out at the LRC [lewrockwell.com] and at the Mises Institute blog [mises.org] for more updates on the LP issue. I gave up my membership a few years ago when I realized that the LP internal politics prevented anything from moving forward. Only in the past 2 years did I realize that voting is also fraudulent, coercive, and against almost everything that can be labeled as "free" or "pro-liberty."

Copyright is one of those issues that even Mises and the LRC don't agree with me on -- I guess I'm a fringe libertarian.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (3, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702035)

Well, it's not a statement on who is right, merely that you can't allow your constitutional rights to be taken away just because you're not interested in that particular right, because then when the leadership changes, they'll make off with the rights you do want.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15701659)

Actually copyright (and patents) is explicitly mentioned in the constitution as something the Federal Government is responsible for. I'm not sure legislation at the state level is even constitional, not without an act of Congress anyway.

And, for what it's worth, protecting the integrity of artistic works strikes me as a worthy use of copyright. Nor is it necessary to be a giant cartel to win, as Gilliam vs ABC (one of the first "moral rights" cases) proves.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701703)

And, for what it's worth, protecting the integrity of artistic works strikes me as a worthy use of copyright

I agree, it strikes me as a worthy use of the law, too. But does it work? No. Does public welfare at the national level work? No. Does retirement funding at the national level work? No. Nothing seems to work at the national level -- all national laws sound great when you read their titles, but the descriptions show the fallacy of a large central government.

Think about it when you consider the "worthy use" of the feds -- they really have no use other than true national defense and the protection against the individual states of trampling basic human rights.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701931)

But does it work? No.

Uh, says who? How doesn't the original conception of copyright not work?

I can certainly accept that the *current* system is busted, thanks to copyright term extensions (god damn you, Sonny Bono) and the DMCA. But I fail to see the proof that copyright, as a concept, is unworkable.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (3, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702060)

That is the problem with all concepts that entail using the monopoly of force that we call government -- things don't exist as you or I would wish. We could vote for people with our ideas, but they'll never enact them exactly as we wish. Even worse, with time we end up living with laws that our fathers, grandfathers or great-grandfathers created to deal with limited problems but are now existing in manipulated versions to help a select elite few.

I'll accept government with one condition: a sunset clause on that government every new generation (10-12 years). Destroy all laws and regulations, and force society to regroup and attempt to make new ones. Maybe even create a 2 year period where there are no laws at all except for the basic property rights: don't hurt someone's physical body or property. I think we'd see amazing growth in human development and charity rather than tyranny and disregard for basic rights.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701850)

I thought that copyright was for the purpose of encouraging the advancement of the arts and sciences though a protected financial arrangement, not for the purpose of protecting the integrity of those works. It is arguable that an artist who has his work changed and rereleased may be dissuaded from future work, but that's sort of a first-sale doctrine thing. If you don't want people messing with your work, don't sell it.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15702084)

> And, for what it's worth, protecting the integrity of artistic works strikes me as a worthy use of copyright.

What integrity? Seriously, what integrity do they have? They do the same mods for airlines, etc. And I don't buy any BS about their reputation being harmed when it's very explicit how the work has been modified and by whom.

And why, exactly, can they not say that the unskippable DVD previews or commercials are also part of this nebulous "vision"?

But then again, I freely admit that I am totally against the idea of IP and even "moral" rights for art, save _only_ attribution. But, ironically, unlike dada21, I do not base this on libertarian principles, but on the greater public good. I see no value in IP. The only rights I fully recognize, honestly, are those of attribution.

Yes, I know. You might try to claim that this falsely attributes a modified work to them. But I already explained that the disclaimer inherent in purchasting a "cleaned" version of the work completely obliterates that argument in my mind.

They know what they're buying. You and the studios have NO right, IMHO, to stop them.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701897)

Cartels exist because they have the legal monopoly to do so.

Or hey, maybe cartels exist because it makes sense business-wise, legal regulation or no. Except that in an unregulated market, there is nothing to limit cartelization, because companies can do whatever they want, and they want cartels!

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (4, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701909)

Well, I think you're right in parts...

"Cartels exist because they have the legal monopoly to do so" - my (somewhat naive) understanding of economics is that the unregulated free market tends towards mega-corporations - which are basically cartels. I think this has been shown using many computer models, and many initial conditions and that the only way to prevent it is to add some other factor (like regulation/legislation). While free-trade (or libeterianism) seems like a nice ideal, I think that (like other nice ideals: communism, capitalism) it would be horrible in reality (horrible like a boot stamping on a human face, forever).

Anyway, back to the point, I agree that copyright law, as it stands, isn't working. However, I think this is a problem with the implemtation rather than the concept. Copyright law is about respecting the creations of others - it doesn't have to be about killing the market. There are several problems with copyrights, as I see it:
1. They last too damn long
2. They're transferable (can be sold / given away). This comes from the idea of 'intellectual property'. If this wasn't the case, things would be better, I reckon.
3. The big companies that own a majority of the copyrights also own our governments, and bribe them to enact stupid legislation (DMCA).

However, I reckon having a non-transferable copyright that lasted say 10 years would work much better, and would be a better result than just scrapping copyright altogether.

Having said all this, I dind't read your links, but will sometime! ;-)

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702028)

In a free market without regulation, we do see SOME mega-companies that grow into being a majority of the market provider. On such "monopoly" was Standard Oil, which was never a monopoly -- they were large because they lowered the price of oil to the end user every few months. They were never an evil company, but they were sued and dissassembled due to the competitors who could not produce oil as cheaply. When we think of monopoly, we think of high prices and restricted products. The free market of competition seems to give us MORE choice, LOWER prices and HIGHER quality everywhere that it still exists. Look at PC hardware. Look at the new online media. We have more choice because of the lack of regulation -- and competition keeps quality and prices in check (and forces things to get better with time).

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (4, Insightful)

yali (209015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701929)

I do understand that the Constitution DOES allow regulation of some sort to be created at the state level.

Actually, that power is specifically granted to Congress [cornell.edu] as far as intellectual property is concerned. The Constitution is pretty clear that it's a federal power.

Of course, the Constitution is also pretty clear that artificial monopolies (patents, copyrights, etc.) on intellectual property are supposed to be granted "for limited times." And it's also pretty clear that the rationale for granting such monopolies is "to promote the progress of science and useful arts," not to promote business interests. Both of those have been pretty much ignored by Congress.

I think this whole current controversy over sanitized DVDs would be much less of a big deal if Congress had been actually taking those things seriously from the getgo. If the "limited times" were actually limited in a meaningful way -- only for enough years as is necessary to establish an incentive for scientists and artists to continue creating -- it would be much less worrisome for copyright holders to exercise the kind of control they've been granted.

Re:More proof as to who is "helped" by copyright (2, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702094)

if someone copies your movie (with or without hacking it), how would you battle them in court?
How do you battle anyone who has reneged on a contract with you and has more access to lawyers than you? There is nothing particular to IP here.

A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (4, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701645)

At the bottom of most of Slashdot's pages it says:

"All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2006 OSTG."

Since the copyright to each post is owned by the posters and the editors quoted entire posts verbatim, I doubt that their use qualifies as fair under US Copyright law.

It is ironic then that the editors are trying to stoke up discussion on what represents a reasonable limit to copyright while unintentionally demonstrating why the law as it currently stands is horribly broken.

Just a thought for a Tuesday evening!

Simon.

Re:A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701688)

Excellent comment -- if I hadn't posted already I'd mod up for sure.

My only problem is with your phrase that copyright is "horribly broken." If it is broken, how do you fix it?

I know a lot of slashdot/FOSS advocates love Lessig's Creative Commons [creativecommons.org] , but to me CC is just another shill for state-destruction of individual rights. In EVERY situation where the law is supposed to protect you (and the "crime" is so easy to accomplish), you will have zero power to protect those rights that the law seems to create. Even under CC, how can you enforce the law that backs it up? With what money, with what attorney, and in what court?

Copyright is dead -- not broken. Copyright is useless and enables nothing; no one creates because of copyright. I repudiate copyright on every single thing I publish in the public eye (blogs, music, video productions, etc). I use the free distribution of information to increase my billable rate for people who want to know more about my trade secrets: I'll write about things I can do, and then charge customers more for the secrets I hold back. That is where the power of creation is: in creating a bigger market for your private knowledge or unique talents (such as a band performing live for a fee but giving their digital music aware freely).

Re:A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702014)

Copyright is dead -- not broken. Copyright is useless and enables nothing; no one creates because of copyright. I repudiate copyright on every single thing I publish in the public eye (blogs, music, video productions, etc). I use the free distribution of information to increase my billable rate for people who want to know more about my trade secrets: I'll write about things I can do, and then charge customers more for the secrets I hold back. That is where the power of creation is: in creating a bigger market for your private knowledge or unique talents (such as a band performing live for a fee but giving their digital music aware freely).

Which is why you're not an example of the type of person copyright was invented to encourage. Copyright exists to encourage the creation of works by those who would otherwise choose not to create, due to the risk that they would be unable to profit from their creations. You yourself said that you have trade secrets which you protect (something which is, BTW, codified in law) from which you make your income. This is most certainly *not* typical of your average artist, who makes money solely from the books they write, the paintings they create, or the movies they envision. So, I would contend that copyright law is not so much broken as inapplicable to your situation.

So what you're saying is... (1)

bigtimepie (947401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701712)

The posters of the quoted comments should sue /. for copyright infringement!

Like most people here, IANAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15701741)

but I typically only ANAL once a month or so. Like many of you, especially slashdot subscribers, I'd love to ANAL every day if I could. So how about it, slash-holes, how about giving some love and giving up the anal to a fellow slashdotter.

Thanks in advance.

Tim
timothy@monkey.org [mailto]

Re:A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (3, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701755)

There is an implied license granted to Slashdot when you post to do what Slashdot does. I think you'd have a hard time standing up in court and claiming damages from Slashdot doing exactly what you expected Slashdot to do.

Could that be a little more bullet-proof? Yes. Does it matter? Not until someone sues them and tries to make this argument. I don't think that's going to be anytime soon.

Copyright's broken, but this isn't one of the ways in which it is broken.

Re:A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701815)

Per Overzeetop's comment, scratch my post. There is an explicit license, although honestly, it sure is hard enough to find...

Re:A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (2, Informative)

timothy (36799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701934)

File a bug report :)

I agree with you -- it should be clearer that Slashdot may display a reader's comment in more than one context. I've requested this, too, but it's one of those things which timewise so far hasn't been high-priority. I'm sure not (yet) a lawyer, but I do think that implied license when posting to a public forum is plentifully sufficient, *really*, but making it more explicit is a good idea. I'll lend you some patience, if you lend me some right back ...

timothy

What part of... (4, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701757)

...the submitting user grants OSTG the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the terms of any applicable license.

don't you understand? I mean, it's right there in the terms of service [ostg.com] at the bottom of every page, just below the "owners" text you quoted. ;-)

Re:What part of... (4, Funny)

raehl (609729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702052)

...the submitting user grants OSTG the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide

1) Post on Slashdot
2) Wait for someone to read Slashdot in Space
3) Profit!!!

Re:A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701868)

You forgot about the fact that they are a) attributed, and b) for purposes of discussion and/or criticism.

So yeah, sounds like fair use to me. Nice try, though.

Re:A helpful demonstration by Slashdot (1)

Admiral Justin (628358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701873)

I shall quote the Terms of Service, which is linked on the bottom of the page, oddly, right below that copyright notice...

With respect to text or data entered into and stored by publicly-accessible site features such as forums, comments and bug trackers ("OSTG Public Content"), the submitting user retains ownership of such OSTG Public Content; with respect to publicly-available statistical content which is generated by the site to monitor and display content activity, such content is owned by OSTG. In each such case, the submitting user grants OSTG the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the terms of any applicable license.


It smells like... permission to use these posts as they wish.

Broken my ass. (3, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701895)

It is ironic then that the editors are trying to stoke up discussion on what represents a reasonable limit to copyright while unintentionally demonstrating why the law as it currently stands is horribly broken.

How does this demonstrate that the system is broken? What if I don't want the Slashdot editors to use something *I've* created in order to push their agenda? How is this any different from, say, Microsoft taking parts of the Linux kernel and then not respecting the license by refusing to release the source? A license, I might point out, which is only enforceable due to copyright law.

The fact is, there are many people around here who like copyright as long they can get what they want for free, preferably under the GPL. The minute someone wants to exercise their rights in any other way, the system is 'broken'.

Frankly, I think the copyright system, as it stands, is still workable, as long as copyright terms don't get continuously extended. What's broken is the government, thanks to institutionalized bribary, and the laws that were passed as a result, such as the DMCA, which work to break the system entirely by allowing the media cartels to effectively hold exclusive control over their works indefinitely.

Note, I don't feel the same way about, say, the patent system. Unfortunately, around here, patents, copyrights, and trademarks seem to get mashed together and demonized equally.

Should be legal, but still stupid. (-1, Troll)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701655)

Originally this technology was being used by religious freaks to keep their children from hearing/seeing bad thing in movies. That sounds ok, but when the intent of the movie is changed, I don't think they should be watching the movie in the first place. If you can't appreciate the movie the way it was intended, then don't watch the damn thing. However, it's supposed to be a free world and if morons want to remove the bloody scenes from Saving Private Ryan, then they should be able to. This world is beyond retarded.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701716)

"Originally this technology was being used by religious freaks to keep their children from hearing/seeing bad thing in movies. That sounds ok, but when the intent of the movie is changed, I don't think they should be watching the movie in the first place. If you can't appreciate the movie the way it was intended, then don't watch the damn thing. However, it's supposed to be a free world and if morons want to remove the bloody scenes from Saving Private Ryan, then they should be able to."

It's amazing how open-minded about rights this crowd generally is until someone uses those rights in a way that does not jive with their world view. I expect fundies and other nuts to stay out of my life, and I already stay out of theirs.

I some people that are into some rather hardcore movies (hint hint) that would still rather not see the "eclair scene" in Van Wilder. It takes all types.

You'll probably soil your trousers when you hear that you can get your steak cooked to different levels at a restaurant!

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701798)

I expect fundies and other nuts to stay out of my life, and I already stay out of theirs./i>

That's both noble and naive of you. You stay out of their lives, good. You may not have noticed that they have no intention whatsoever of staying out of yours. This is what invites the hostility you are complaining about.

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (4, Interesting)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701772)

You say religious freaks. How about just moral people. You know, morality; that thing that used to exist in the majority of people instead of the minority.

How about people that don't want their 6 year old calling them a bitch because they heard it on TV.

How about cutting out the sex scenes so we reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. Everyone wants their kids to experience everything, well guess what...they do experience everything when they are young, then get get pregnant, or a STD at age 16 and then guess what, their life is screwed. And why is it screwed...because mommy and daddy let their kids watch sex scenes in movies at age 10 and their kids wanted to do it as soon as they could.

A good action film is still entertaining to watch without hearing the 'F' word every 5 seconds.

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (4, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701855)

then get get pregnant, or a STD at age 16 and then guess what, their life is screwed.
It's not just their life that got screwed. hehe.
But seriously, teen pregnancy rates are much lower in countries (like England) that have a much more open view of human sexuality. If you have cable in England or Australia, you probably have a 24-hour porn channel thown in with your regular cable service. Billboards in Frace encouraging breast feeding of babies just show two enormous bare breasts with a tagline below.
My 12 yo daughter has caught my wife and I fooling around a few times. But she is in no hurry to have sex just because she witnessed it. She has been informed about it since she was 5 years old. There is no titillating curiosity. It's just where babies come from.

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15701900)

Wow, I had no idea I could attribute all of the problems and "bad" things I did as a teenager to watching movies when I was young!

Thanks, that's a great burden off of me!

I'M FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (2, Insightful)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701933)

How is one's entire life screwed because they got an STD at 16? I got a couple then too. You go to the free clinic and got your shots. It becomes a learning experience. There has been recent discussions on how the younger generation is developing problems with being able to act independently. The studies seem to point to that the over-zealousness of the parents in wanting someone else to take the responsibility of their kids. As well as the fact that the parents are directly over-looking their kids behavior. Why do you really want to where little Johnny drives the car? With GPS you can. All kids are looking for their own lives, and are sorely let-down when they realize that they might never be able to. Maybe its the fact that America is so repressed as a society sexually, that is causing the problems. If your kids want to run out and have sex, I think is called PUBERTY, and HORMONES! Its do easy to blame the movies for portraying something as dirty as your own sexuality. Sex is messy, and dirty, and smelly, and wonderfully so. If you have a hangup why pass it onto the kids?

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701784)

"If you can't appreciate the movie the way it was intended, then don't watch the damn thing."

Yes, that's right...let's let you tell everyone else how they should live their life while you exclaim no one has the right to tell you the same.

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701810)

We live in an age when information comes the way we want it. If religious folks want movies that abide their standards let them have it. News outlets, shopping, entertainment, speech patterns, spelling, language, interperative dance, all of it's gotta eventually adapt or folks will find another way around it. Better a bunch of religious folks step part way into the 21st century than that they choose to remain in the 14th and start blowing stuff up... ...oh wait... --Ray

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701828)

That sounds ok, but when the intent of the movie is changed, I don't think they should be watching the movie in the first place.

Who said anything about intent? My kids love the movie "Twister", but I wish it had a few less "goddamns". Am I really "religious frek" and a "moron" because I'd prefer not to hear gratuitous bad language?

Look, I did my time in the Navy, and have heard (and uttered) more than my fair share of profanity. It's all about context, though. My wife and I liked Pulp Fiction, but I wouldn't dream of censoring the language there. The cursing is appropriate in that context. However, I'm sure we could both list otherwise family-friendly movies that just had to drop a few F-bombs to earn a PG-13 rating.

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (1)

cailyoung (898949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702092)

Who said anything about intent? My kids love the movie "Twister", but I wish it had a few less "goddamns". Am I really "religious frek" and a "moron" because I'd prefer not to hear gratuitous bad language?


Well, you did use a lowercase 'g' in "goddamn", which would put you squarely in the non-religious-freak camp, except that you somehow find it offensive enough to want to hear it less in a movie. What is so offensive about the word (I would argue two-word phrase) "goddamn"? Is it the "god" or the "damn", or as American TV censorship clearly demonstrates, the combination of the two that makes for a profanity? If it's the "god", then you would appear to be a 'religious freak'. If it's the "damn" then I wonder just how many words you consider offensive. And if it's the combination, like the TV stations seem to think, then you're definitely being affected by religious bias.

They're all words. Just words, and the only power they have is what you give them. To an atheist, "goddamn" is just a way of emphasising something, e.g. "Those goddamn censors are at it again". The word holds absolutely no special meaning. To someone who holds particular issue with the commandment regarding 'taking the lord's name in vain', it has an entirely different connotative meaning - it inspires disgust with the utterer. I guess what I'm trying to say is that whilst I wouldn't call you a religious freak, I would call you a bit of a moron, because if you can't understand that "gratuitous bad language" should probably refer to words that are a little more universally reviled (viz: Carlin's Seven Dirty Words [wikipedia.org] ), then you need a little perspective.

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (2, Funny)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701864)

However, it's supposed to be a free world and if morons want to remove the bloody scenes from Saving Private Ryan, then they should be able to. This world is beyond retarded.
Now I know why Bush sent thousands of American troops to their deaths in Iraq - he watched the bloodless version of Saving Private Ryan and thought "hey nobody died, I think I'll try that."

Re:Should be legal, but still stupid. (1)

pegr (46683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701892)

Would you consider it unfair to sell books with the added feature of having certain objectional pages removed? Seems like a reasonable comparison.

going to burn some karma here... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15701672)

but what the hell is the summary saying?

Many readers found stifling Judge Richard P. Matsch's decision yesterday that Cleanflix, a service selling versions of popular movies edited (some would say censored) to remove violence, nudity and other elements, was in violation of U.S. copyright law for selling these edited versions, while others welcomed the decision as appropriately respecting the intent of those who made the original movies..

I've read this like 5 times and can only conclude it has something to do with US Copyright law?

Who cares about their original intent? (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701676)

This is no better than a car company banning its customers from modding their cars on the grounds that it distorts their original aesthetics. Funny how the corporatists turn property rights into a mechanism for controlling others rather than as a foundation for individuals to control themselves...

Re:Who cares about their original intent? (2, Insightful)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701730)

Kinda a technical point but this is actually slightly different. If the judge hadn't ruled the way he has, the GPL would be dead. Here is what I see as being the problem. This company is selling a derivative work. They are not modifying an existing work without distribution, they are selling a derivative. Sure, they require you to bring in an existing copy, but they do not use that copy, they give you a new one.

If they took that copy and modified it on behalf of the owner, and did not distribute the work, or if the person who bought the work did the same, then I think this should be counted as fair use. However, you have to hand over all copies of the work at the end, and if another client wants to job done, then you have to do the work over again.

Consider the following situation. I want to make a closed source version of Linux, so I ask that people bring me a copy of Ubuntu and then sell them my modified version. See the problem? If this ruling was allowed then close sourcing GPL code would be as easy as giving someone a copy of the code, asking them to give it back to you, then burning the CD.

The judge got it right in this case. You can modify works for your own use, and you can modify other works if you don't distribute, but you cant modify and distribute.

Thank you! (1)

EL_mal0 (777947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701837)

I was reading the comments in the original story yesterday, but just ended up confused. I realize now that all I needed was a car analogy. Thanks Mike!

Cynical Reply (1)

Tripledub (951046) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701681)

Perhaps now the movie industry will implement thier own version of Cleanfix and sell the movies for even more to cover the labor costs. My take on this is that if cleanfix was working with the movie houses to clean up things while maintaining "Artistic Integrity" this would have been moot. As it is I cannot take a movie and alter it then give it away without giving the original can I?

Re:Cynical Reply (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701832)

No, it wouldn't...because it's really all about control.

In truth, the conglomerate is taking advantage of the anti-christian backlash to gain more territory of control and rights. Just joe-avg is to blind and apathetic to realize it.

The question seems to be... (4, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701683)

whether or not you can basically take a knife to someone's work, reshape it to an audience and then make money from it. The answer quite clearly is no.

This is very important to remember: Your intention in violating copyright law is irrelevent.

This sword cuts many different ways.

Re:The question seems to be... (1)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701769)

actually I think you are allowed to take the knife and make money from it, as long as you don't use too much of the source material and/or you change things enough (I think that's how it works when music artists sample other songs and include them in their own). IANAL, so if anybody knows exactly how this legally works in the music arena I am all ears...

Re:The question seems to be... (1, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701859)

So, I presume it's also wrong to modify any code. Hell, we should just chuck out the whole "open source" movement. I mean, making any mod eradicates the artistic intention of the original author.

Yeah....

Taking a movie that may be a fine and intriguing movie but have one small scene and eliminating it is not the end of the world. And if you've already bought the DVD, it should be within your right to NOT view such.

Titanic is a great example for me. The stupid scene in the back of the car cheapened the whole feel of the movie for me. And no, I don't have an issue with a sex scene. But I would have preferred not to have that scene. And if I had a 9 yr old kid. I'd probably like to pass on the scene as well.

New Use for the Clearplay DVD player (4, Interesting)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701698)

You know, it seems to me that the Clearplay DVD player mentioned above could become popular, but only if those outside of Clearplay can generate the necessary filters. I can't help but think that there's a market for a DVD player that can skip everything else and play JUST the naughty parts of a DVD...

Re:New Use for the Clearplay DVD player (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701786)

Sir, I don't know whether to mod you "funny" or "insightful".

Re:New Use for the Clearplay DVD player (2, Interesting)

yali (209015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701997)

That comment was probably meant to be funny, but it makes me think... what if somebody created a Clearplay-like technology for DVRs? It would be a great way to skip commercials. All it would take would be 1 person to upload a list of start and stop timecodes for the commercials in a given show, then everybody else downloads the list of timecodes and watches commercial-free. You'd have to make sure everybody's recording was synced to the same start-point, but otherwise it'd be trivial.

Re:New Use for the Clearplay DVD player (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702008)

Or make "Director's Cut" version of a film that doesn't mean "extra long" or "butchered to fuck". I thought The Village was a perfect example of a poorly cut film. If the director had watched some hitchcock before going into editing we would have gotten a totally different film.

Collages, et cetera (3, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701713)

Money is beside the point... a copyright holder has every right to choose how a work is distributed.

Have you ever seen an artist make a collage? You know, cut up portions of photographs, text, whatever and incorporate them into a new creation (assuming that they purchased them in the first place, that is)? Well, this ruling takes a big step towards forbidding that in the future. Hell, ever purchased a pair of used jeans that weren't exactly in brand-new condition, maybe were missing a piece or two? Nope, that'll be illegal too.

Am I taking this to an absurd conclusion? I hope so, but think about it for a minute. Heck, let's go back to the original comment, as it relates to movie distribution. Let's say that Lucas releases Star Wars again, but this time it will only play on THX-certified stereos. After all, if he's allowed to forbid you from editing it (after purchasing a copy), isn't he also allowed to forbid you from "editing out the sound" that he thinks you'd get from an approved stereo system? Now what if you replace THX with Windows, is that still okay? Same legal issue, methinks.

Beware the slippery slope.

Documentaries (1)

SharkJumper (651652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701887)

This was probably pointed out in the last discussion on this topic; if so, it's worth mentioning again. Here's an interesting comic [duke.edu] from Duke Law that points out some of the landmines of copyright law. Instead of collage, it uses documentary filmmaking as its example. It tries to be balanced, but to me it paints a bleak picture of the future of art.

SharkJumper

Re:Collages, et cetera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15702032)

Funny you should mention the jeans considering that designers are currently pushing for protection of clothing designs via copyright legislation. Not so absurd if this comes to pass.

Re:Collages, et cetera (3, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702093)


Have you ever seen an artist make a collage? You know, cut up portions of photographs, text, whatever and incorporate them into a new creation (assuming that they purchased them in the first place, that is)? Well, this ruling takes a big step towards forbidding that in the future.


Exactly how is taking a movie and editing out a few minutes of it while keeping the rest anything like a collage? A collage uses multiple sources and bears little resemblence to any single one of the works used in the collage. If you want a valid analogy, look no further than the music sampling world. Fair use means you can take short parts of the song without violating copyright. It doesn't mean huge portions that resemble the original work. There were multiple lawsuits over this in the 80s/90s. See Negativeland being sued by U2 for an example of a derivative work. Negativland lost (settled out of court) and copies of the album were destroyed. The song was largely similar to the original U2 song. On the other side there's all kinds of music that has samples in it that are small enough to not be a deriviate work, so no one ever bothers suing. There's a gray area in-between, and that's where you'd see court rulings that would effect what's fair use and what's a derivative work. This lawsuit is nowhere near that gray area.

What's happening here is nothing at all like a collage. It's quite obvious it's a derivative work, and distributing it therefore violates copyright law.


After all, if he's allowed to forbid you from editing it (after purchasing a copy), isn't he also allowed to forbid you from "editing out the sound"


Why are there so many people that make this out to be a limit on what you can edit and view yourself in the privacy of your own home? These companies were DISTRIBUTING this content. That has nothing to do with making your own version of Star Wars and taking out the sound.

Well then.. (2, Insightful)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701724)

Well then, lets see what the movie companies think when the people that buy the clean version of the movie quit buying the movies all together and they start to lose revenue. Its a person's choice to watch a movie or not if it offends them and if they can't watch a clean version of it, well then they just won't watch it. Will this be a lot of revenue. I don't know, but but I bet it will make a small dent.

You will pay the price for your theft of "vision" (4, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701735)

It is a violation of "artistic moral rights" to select specific posts and re-present them according to an agenda that was not part of the original posters' vision.

As your attorney in this matter, I recommend that you all sue.

Re:You will pay the price for your theft of "visio (1)

ishpeck (160581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701919)

You, sir, are my hero.

Other Censoring Technology is Okay (3, Informative)

fatdog789 (982614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701744)

In all this hubbub, people failed to notice that a competing form of "editing out the naughty bits" digitally, ie, simply skipping over the deleted scenes as requested by the user *while watching the dvd* was deemed perfectly legal. The difference: the original movie content is still there for someone who wants to watch it uncensored, but the act of censoring it to one's tastes is trivial.

Re:Other Censoring Technology is Okay (2, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701800)

You know, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

What it really comes down to is selective enforcement. By making everything unlawful, the power that be can cherry pick the "violations" that suit their agenda or revenue stream. Convenient for them, but not for the general population. It's all about the golden rule, and I'm not talking about the one that has a "thou shalt not" in it.

Only the Government Can Censor (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701804)

Some say "censor"?

You can't be censored by a private citizen.

You can be told to shut up. Your post can be deleted. But you weren't censored.

Re:Only the Government Can Censor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15701950)

Some say "****"?

You can't be ****ed by a private citizen.

You can be told to **** up. Your post can be ****ed. But you weren't ****ed.


**** up!

Redistributing work of others without permission (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701814)

Well, here it is: can copyrighted works be modified and redistributed without explicit permission by the copyright holder? The court says no, I agree in this case.

I don't see why we should allow someone to use copyrighted work of others to make money without first getting permission from the holders of the copyright.

There are many people who believe copyrights must be abolished, I disagree with them, but I agree that the copyright system maybe in need of a reform. Copyrights should apply within a limited timeframe - in case of a person, they should apply as long as the person is alive (my believe, but YMMV,) and in case of corporations copyrights should not exceed some time period that maybe just as long as life of a patent (20 years?)

Without a real time limiter distribution of the copyrighted material becomes more difficult to control, and that is when corporations start meddling with existing and new technologies, trying to impose control systems such as DRM at the government levels.

The copyright law should be made more realistic and it should be changed in such a way, that it would make less sense for corporations to try and limit technological developments.

Re:Redistributing work of others without permissio (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701899)

Lets remmember the point of the copyright privlidge.
To keep people from claiming your material. It had nothing to do with 'artistic vision'.
Also, it did not deal with media that could easily be altered.

With current technology, the copyright privlige needs some changes to deal with new technolgy.

For example:
We should allow content altered DVDs if it is clearly marked, the original credits are given, and who did the editing.
If I purchase a disk, I should be able to make an edited version and sell it along with the oprginal version.
So a company buys movie A. the can then make an edit and sell it, IF the original is included.

The viewer gets to choose which version(hance NOT censorship) the studio has gotten there cut, and nobody is taking claim for someone else work, and the cast and crew are not being given credit for the new edited version.
Meaning is someone sees it they know it's has been altered from final release.

This solves the money issue, artistic issue, and the viewer gets what they want. Nobody is hurt, harmed, or looses copyright protection.

Re:Redistributing work of others without permissio (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702044)

Okay, so can you create a business out of modifying novels? You purchase a container of the latest blockbuster novel, then sell it to your readers. If they check the box on the order for that says "sanitize," you drop the book in the san-o-matic and it applies white-out to the objectionable parts and prints some alternate text, cuts out a few pages, pastes in a couple extra pages, puts a "Santized by the Purity Book Club Company" sticker on the jacket and then boxes it up for shipping.

Aside from the inability to modify a pressed DVD, this is what they seem to be doing. They are buying a proper copy, making changes as requested by the end user, and sending the modified copy (naturally, the source must be destroyed...couldn't tell if they did that or not from the original story). I think that, given the one copy bought - one (modified) copy sold, this should somehow fall under first sale doctrine. Is doing this any worse that burning a CD/DVD in public? Clearly the artists work is being damaged and defaced in a way they did not intend. I don't really expect the Dixie Chicks to win any money in Texas over that claim, though.

Gee, that was a biased summary. (4, Interesting)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701816)

Not that that should be terribly surprising. Despite the summary stating that "others welcomed the decision as appropriately respecting the intent of those who made the original movies", not a *single* comment was referenced which took this stance. What about this comment [slashdot.org] , which is one of many that points out that this ruling can be considered consistent with existing copyright law, which holds the right to create a derivative work as exclusive to the creator. Or this one [slashdot.org] , which points out that the derivative work rights assigned to a copyright holder are what give the GPL it's teeth.

But, hey, it's a lot more fun to editorialize, in this case by selectively choosing user comments in order to manufacture a perceived concensus.

Backslash (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701827)

This new format for backslash is an interesting idea. I haven't decided if I like it or not yet. If the editors are reading, I do have one suggestion though. Could you file all the backslash articles in the backslash section? One of the excellent features that you guys have added recently is the per-user settings on what stories get displayed on the front page, and whether they are in full or abbreviated form. However, it is only usefull if the stories are properly catagorized. While backslash stories will always fit into another catagory, I personally would prefer that they be marked as backslash, and filterable as such.

Re:Backslash (1)

Hyram Graff (962405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701874)

I agree, please file all backslash articles in the backslash section.

Re:Backslash (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701956)

Where can I cast my vote for this? I too have a bit of a problem with backslash being in 'index' now. I already scanned the original comments, and the ones of the dupe (just a joke there, folks!), and I really don't have that much desire to read the comments on the comments. If backslash has its own section (and what about an icon?), I can move it away from my frontpage.

One reason for why studios would care (5, Interesting)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701829)

A studio sells a normal R-rated version of a film for $20 on DVD. It decides to sell a censored PG version for $30 (it's a niche market, people are willing to pay more for the censored version.)

An outfit in Utah comes along, buys a copy of the $20 R-rated version, edits it to PG level, and sells it for $25.

The studio is out $5, and it's an easy to argue copyright violation.

Now my issue is that the studios are not taking advantage of their full copyrights and issuing the PG version. I feel that if they don't after a few years, they should relinquish those rights and let the company in Utah innovate appropriately (by buying the $20 DVD and then editing it.) It'd really only take a law to change, and in today's political environment would be an easy sell to Congress.
 

howto: AviSynth (2, Informative)

ben there... (946946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701847)

Something similar could probably be put together fairly quickly using programs like Avidemux or VirtualDub for those who don't mind distributing the work of classifying and sharing the necessary edit-decision lists.

This is really simple to implement using AviSynth [avisynth.org] , if anyone wants to try it. Just install that, an MPEG-2 (DVD) codec, and AnyDVD or DVD43 to decrypt the DVD on-the-fly. Then create a text file called myscript.avs with this code:

# Combine all the VOBs.
a=DirectShowSource("E:\VIDEO_TS\VTS_01_1.VO B")
b=DirectShowSource("E:\VIDEO_TS\VTS_01_2.VOB" )
AlignedSplice(a,b)

# Cut out frames 1500-1550 and 3000-3023
Trim(0,1500) ++ Trim(1550,3000) ++ Trim(3023,0)

You can then open that in any DirectShow or VfW compatible player, such as WMP. Or distribute the *.avs files to others.

why not slipstream it? (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701854)

I don't see why they can't slipstream it so from the menu, the viewer can select the "edited" version.
Heck, they (DVD's) do have the functionality to do multi-angles (mainly for p0rn) and the "follow the white rabbit" icons (easter eggs), and such allowing for almost endless combinations without requiring those combinations to be statically stored.
Some creative menu/content layouts should be able to this just fine.
And since the original content is on the disc, it should be a non-issue as it's just like using a cheat-sheet for a novel that lists which sentence/paragraph/pages have vulgar language and skipping it while you read it.

all control not bad (0, Troll)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701856)

Not all control is bad. For example, when you go to the local cineplex, do you want to see the movie that everyone else is seeing, or do you want the cineplex edit. For example, the cineplex might not want to show any movie over 100 minutes. Star wars has to be cut by 21 or 25 minutes.

Some control is to control the quality of the product to the consumer. It is when this is overstepped that there is a problem. Again, when you buy a video do you want to have to read every video to see what editing is done. We already has this issue, and it forms a barrier to effecient commerce.

The issue is when a product is advertised as a certain thing, for instance a certain movie by a certain director starring certain people, or a certain handbag, or a certain car, we as consumers must have some confidence that the product is as advertised. Simply making it Star War instead of Star Wars, or Prata instead of Prada, or Fard instead of Ford may not be enough. I cannot believe I am taking this side, but I think this is where the issue is. The films that these people are hacking are obvious of some worth because no one is going to spend $10 on a CDR that is crap. So the pirates^w, i mean editors are basing thier income on the work of someone else, and only added a miniscule amount of added value. If there were a glut of quality appropriate entertainment, it seems that they would set up a production house and make it.

Since this has somewhat become an issue of religion, let me add a counter example. Let's say I went to this site [sermonaudio.com] and linked to all the sermons. The reaons for this was that I wanted to help them get listeners by arranging the sermons differently, say by content of racism, sexism, violence, hatred, and created a more attractive design. I propererly attributed the sermons to the person and back to the original site. However, for some sermon I also supply several different versions, to appeal to other constiuencies. In some I bleep out the word god. In others I might replace with another discriptor, such as universal power, dictator, master, lord, oppressor. Now, I link and maybe supply. the orignal, I clearly mark the changes, and I clearly supply all attributions. Do anyone think this is legitimate? I am not even charging. I am just editing someone elses words, and, in some cases, making them say something they never intended. Certainly covered under fair use.

Re:all control not bad (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701967)

If I go to you and say, please edit these words for my copy, then yeah, it should be allowed.

If I change something and do a mass distribution(as in your example) then no.

MPAA et al not happy with Clearplay, either (4, Interesting)

Thagg (9904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701869)

At the end of this feedback summary, the Clearplay solution is mooted.

The studios purport to be every bit as unhappy with Clearplay as the re-recording service providers that were the subject of this lawsuit. They are currently suing Clearplay in the case Huntsman v. Soderbergh/a? which is pending. [eff.org]

You can read all about it at the linked EFF site.

Basically, the arguments are almost all exactly the same -- except that the copyright issue is obviously different as there is no copy being sold. With Clearplay, you buy or rent the regular disk, and the Clearplay-supplied DVD player and service skips the naughty bits. The directors filing the lawsuit complain that their names and trademarks are applied to a "created" movie that is not their original movie -- and they are attempting to use trademark as well as copyright law to fight Clearplay.

From the pace that this case has been proceeding through the courts, it's going to be a very long time before it is resolved.

Thad Beier

Re:MPAA et al not happy with Clearplay, either (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702058)

I'd say there's an easy solution to this problem - you just move to a community model. The company makes money selling the player, with an open patchlist format. The community writes their own patches. I know that the money is in services and all, but there's a lesser amount of money with a more feasible business model in selling the devices. I think. Eventually someone will do it in some Free/free software and bingo! The service would die.

Who decides? (2, Insightful)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701872)

These discussion of whether the studios release their own expurgated versions of movies are totally beside the point. The question is who gets to decide what gets edited. Maybe some copyright-holders make terrible decisions on how their works should be edited, but that is their choice. It certainly isn't the right of some third-party like Cleanflix to decide how a movie is edited. I also don't see how what this has to do with fair use. This doesn't relate to what the viewer of a work can do non-commercially with his or her own copy of the movie. This has to do with a for-profit company making money by making edited copies of someone else's work and selling those copies.

The judge is right (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701876)

It's appalling that this case could get so far through the legal system in the first case. This is a clearcut copyright violation:

  1. The "re-editors" don't have permission to redistribute their modified copies.
  2. They can't claim fair use priviledges since they are distributing copies which represent a substantial portion of the entire work. i.e. they are not distributing brief excerpts being used for satire or scholarly analysis.

Re:The judge is right (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701942)

It's not as clearcut as you make it look.

Copyright law is old, and didnt apply to this technology.
200 years ago, no one would have thought to take a book, cut out the naughty bits, then resell it with the original work. To cost prohibitive.
Plus 200 years ago no one would have cased, but I digress.

With todays technology, you can create single use dirivitive works, and see that the copyright holder gets paid.
WHich is what copyright is about, seeing that the author gets paid.

Also, Copyright is a PRIVLIGE, not a right. I think it's good that it got to court, it means the flexibility that the founding fathers sought for to create a long lasting union is still in place.

Re:The judge is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15702085)

FYI it's spelled "privilege."

That sucks (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701885)

Historically, copyright law used to protect derivitive works, you know.

Timothy (-1, Offtopic)

Municipa (99320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701921)

The only slashdot editor who actually reads the site and gives a damn about it. At the next tech convention that these other slackdot editors go to, one of you techies should ask them what their favorite comment in the last week and see if they can come up with anything, then try to find the comment because they will likely bullshit you.

the child (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701925)

of Mister Falcon has no fairy godmother.

Give MEE the keys!

Redistributing a copyrighted work for profit (3, Insightful)

Zelucifer (740431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701962)

I think the point that the vast majority of people are missing, is that at it's essence, this third party company is creating a derivative work For Profit. If this was a non-profit group, such as a church this would be 100% legal. However, editing a work in any way makes the current iteration of the production a Derivative and that changes the copyright statutes and precedents that apply to this. Think about it this way, what's the fundamental difference between removing scenes from a movie and adding them? With the latter, you have the possibility of a satire, or parody, yet even with that you do not have the right to use more then a few minutes of the original, if any at all, even in a not-for profit production. The issue would be different if, the defendant were to take the dvd that had been purchased by a consumer and edit that specific dvd, yet the simple action of buying (or acquiring through other means... specifically former trade-ins), involves a transfer of licenses, not just a service. In affect, the trade-in is actually a new purchase (the cost being your old dvd and the money), which is where the illegality comes into play.

I think they should take this decision a step... (1)

Atroxodisse (307053) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701987)

...further and declare that directors should not be allowed to edit their own movies after they've been released in order to maintain artistic integrity. Han shot first.

editing for profit (1)

thinkzinc (668822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701991)

I can't believe that there are people here that condone intellectual property theft. So let me get this straight. If I bought a movie or music CD, and edited out parts, I should be able to reproduce it and sell it without giving any royalties to the artist and this is cool?

without giving any royalties to the artist? (2, Insightful)

SharkJumper (651652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702080)

If I bought a movie or music CD

Oops, you just gave them royalties.

I don't think royalties is really the issue at hand. Apparently, the DVDs were being purchased by the scrubbing companies on a one-to-one basis. The artists were making their money. So the question becomes one of the "fair use" rights involved in having a company edit a copy of a DVD for a person versus the reputation of the artists who have their names attached to that DVD. I don't think royalties entered into the suit.

... and be careful throwing around the word "theft" when speaking of copyright law; you're liable to go down in flames, here.

SharkJumper

Re:editing for profit (2, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702083)

You missed the point. They're buying a shrinkwrapped version for each modified version they're selling. The studios are getting a sale to an enduser that wouldn't otherwise buy the movie. What is in question is that they are charging a fee for the modification.

A filmmaker's perspective (1)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15701996)

It's about time to see a ruling against these assheads.

Films are created to tell a story in a specific way. Now, if that includes elements that may be offensive to others, oh well. You can't please everyone!

If you don't like blue language, sex or violence, don't see the movie. That's what the rating system is set up to educate you about. I know one person who walked out of the theatre on a PG-rated film because an actress said the word 'hell'. Hey, to each his own.

If anyone modified my films to please their families and kids, there would be HELL to pay.

Re:A filmmaker's perspective (1)

thinkzinc (668822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702013)

If anyone modified my films to please their families and kids, there would be HELL to pay.

Can I buy or rent one of your films?

offended, don't watch (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702022)

it's real easy.

don't want to see boobs in a boob movie, don't watch it.

don't want to hear a movie's bad words, don't watch it.

look at all the wasted time you'll get back.

you can then waste it reading about the morons that have to watch the boob movie sans boobs

Whether they're allowed or not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15702039)

...my opinion is that people who buy those "castrated" movies are a bunch of pathetic prudes! Your wimpiness makes me laugh! HA!

Learn to give without expecting a return. (1)

Intrinsic (74189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702055)

"Fair use would be you making a backup copy, putting the one you bought into storage, and using the backup. This is fair use. Heck, even taking a film that you own, making a copy and cutting out scenes you don't like... that is also fair use. What's not fair use is making a copy, cutting scenes, and selling it as a new version without any consent. This is not a one to one copy as there are scenes cut. Money is beside the point... a copyright holder has every right to choose how a work is distributed. This would include not wanting some bozo cutting scenes on a work that took time to create. Any flaws, mistakes, anything which affects the overall presentation can damage the reputation of the respective studio and artists that created the work. It's like taking spray paint to a piece of fine art and going over the bits one finds offensive, this affects the quality of the piece and the viewer might assume the artist is sloppy dolt or doesn't have the technical skill or is too reserved to make a winkle."


Thats bullshit, what about people that mix music, The Grey Album for Instance?.. It doesn't detract from the work so long as the party knows its a edited version. The copyright holder doesn't/shouldn't have control over what someone does with a said work after its released. When you put at work into the public it no longer belongs to you as a whole. It takes on a life of its own, other people take it and make something that they can relate to on a personal level (If they so wish). This isn't about what the public is doing to a said work, This all has to do with the creator's/financial backer's fear of loss, The loss of something you no longer have control over. We need to get over it, this idea that copyright holders should have this kind of power is ridiculous. It goes against the core understanding being human, giving without expecting anything in return. When you give to someone freely without restrictions, you get back more than what you put into it. If you hold it to your chest in attempt to keep people from it, you will lose it.

In this case people are making it possible to watch movies they wouldnt normally choose to watch because of content they dont identify with, don't make them wrong for that, give people enough credit to make there own decisions about what is right and wrong.

Ugh (3, Interesting)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15702056)

I dislike this decision, but I think I see why it was decided in this way. A copyright holder has some right to not only make money from their films, but also to grant licenses to who they choose. Part of that licensing structure is how they protect themselves and their works from being altered in a way that they did not intend and at the same time the altering person makes money doing that.

Let's say that you were a director and released a fairly hum-drum movie about life in the 'hood. You would probably have some violent scenes in there, where people of various minorities were vicious criminals. At the same time, you show how people of the same minorities are trying to fight back against gang violence or whatever. Indeed, that's the point of your movie.

What happens when someone's Neo-Nazi cutting service takes your movie and figures out how to cut out the sympathetic parts so that it almost turns into a modern-day Birth of a Nation? Then, they market the 'altered' version in much the same way that this cleaning service market's their services.

Now, technically, you got paid for what turned into Birth of a Nation II, but now your work, and your actors' performances are now on the Aryan Nation's hit parade. What if, due to the clever editing, your movie ends up being a more popular Neo-Nazi parapaganda film than it ever was before editing. Well, guess what? You're fucked. Your movie and actors are being clucked about on Oprah. I'm sure she'd be all upset that your well-intentioned movie was mangled in this way, but in the end, you're the guy who made Birth of a Nation II, or Triumph of the Will: The Next Generation.

I think there needs to be a careful line drawn about that can be done professionally. I agree that this service is probably completely harmless, and I HATE the fact that the studios are probably simply looking to make sure they *they* are the ones who make the money from any sanitizations done, but they have a point. Its probably something that needs some better definition within copyright legislation.
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