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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Oh My God, I Agree With Bush

Bush to movie industry: Fuck [Forget] you!

President Bush on Wednesday signed legislation aimed at helping parents keep their children from seeing sex scenes, violence and foul language in movie DVDs.

The bill gives legal protections to the fledgling filtering technology that helps parents automatically skip or mute sections of commercial movie DVDs. Bush signed it privately and without comment, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

The legislation came about because Hollywood studios and directors had sued to stop the manufacture and distribution of such electronic devices for DVD players. The movies' creators had argued that changing the content -- even when it is considered offensive -- would violate their copyrights.

The legislation, called the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, creates an exemption in copyright laws to make sure companies selling filtering technology won't get sued out of existence.

Once again, it's about who gets to control a product after it is sold.  Protections of intellectual property were designed to foster creativity, not to dictate how the endusers get to experience the product.  I have every fucking right to purchase technology that allows me to view copyrighted material any way I damn well please, so I for once am happy about something Bush has done.

Granted, he's only leaping into this because sex and foul language is involved, and creating a special exemption here, but that's okay.  It sets a precedent demonstrating that copyright holders do not have absolute power.

Now consider that we know Bush has an iPod, so all we have to do is get him listening to podcasts and maybe he'll use the bully pulpit to destroy the recording industry's hegemony!  I can see it now: instead of Presidential Daily Briefs on paper Bush would listen to a Podcast Daily Brief, complete with uptempo tunes, while jogging.  Sure beats reading and might just get him to notice this new medium...

ntodd

April 28, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Sorry, I disagree completely.

This is actually a considerably different situation in the realm of copyright. The P2P problem is about who gets paid; this is about not merely who gets paid, but who gets paid for what version, and about alteration and/or censorship of the original work.

First rule of the universe, so often ignored by the righteous, the self-righteous, and the careless: If something might be offensive to you, don't seek it out. I haven't sent my deeply religious mother a copy of Dogma or Kill Bill, because, no matter how much I enjoy them and how worthy I find them artistically, my mom is Not The Audience.

The smarmy sleazebuckets at ClearPlay are doing two things with this: profiting off someone else's art, and telling everyone what the "dirty" stuff is. De factor censorship, both for titles and type of content.

Don't wanna watch the icky parts of The Silence of the Lambs? Don't frickin' buy or rent it. Don't want your kids to see any of that stuff? Don't let 'em watch, or watch with 'em to explain or fast-forward past or something. Otherwise, toughen the fuck up.

Posted by: filkertom | Apr 28, 2005 10:02:10 AM

I agree with your basic premises, especially about the responsibility to not watch icky things, but I still disagree. What these other companies are doing is offering a value-added service and distributing films that would otherwise not be seen by a segment of the population. I meant, I could see an application for schools even: show Silence of the Lambs in a psych class, but take out the most inappropriate parts. Or whatever.

The most fundamental issue here is that once somebody purchases a product, they should have license to interact with it however they want.

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 10:22:56 AM

Okay, once upon a time, I wrote a comic book, which has never been published anywhere. But let's say it had been published. Let's say it had gone through the whole process -- getting the scripts approved by editors and publishers, getting a good artist to work on it, getting the final copy corrected, fixed up, and approved by the editors, publishers, and assorted pencil-pushers. Let's say it got published, sent to the stores, sold to readers.

Then let's say that some Comic Shop Weirdo decided it was immoral -- all the fighting, shooting, plasma blasts, spandex costumes, cussing, people having teh sex in tasteful silhouette. So he took my comic, cut out the parts he thought were evil with an X-Acto Knife, and sold it.

Once I found out who this guy was, he would have a survival time measured in hours. I'll accept that the editors and publishers have a full right to make changes to my script, but once some unaffiliated busybody with too much time on his hands starts fucking with my stuff, all bets are off. The copyright on my work entitles me and those to whom I give specific permission (editors, etc.) to make changes to my work -- no one else.

Posted by: Scooter | Apr 28, 2005 10:26:19 AM

Ditto Filkertom. One of the big concerns of the industry (as I understand it) is concerned parents burning sanitized versions of the films in question and distributing them to like-minded friends. Impossible to say how big a problem that would be (hell, if they were that concerned, why are they letting the kiddies watch a movie like that in the first place?), but it would be a bit like me taking all the cuss words out of your post and putting on my blog in order to boost my traffic. I'm not sure you'd go for that.

Posted by: Dan McEnroe | Apr 28, 2005 10:28:17 AM

Hey, it's not like people are removing attribution. Content is being changed, it's advertised as being changed, and it still shows who created the original material. As far as I'm concerned, it's just like blogging! You snip out parts, present it, and don't take credit for anything other than the editorial decisions.

So Dan, go ahead and delete my damn curse words and post it on your blog, so long as you don't fucking claim you wrote it, I won't condemn you to Hell! :-)

And Scoot, I understand your concerns, but as I said before from a philosophical POV I think copyright protections have gone too far. Ironically, it's the fucking GOP who seems to want to protect corporate control of IP, and any chinks in that Disney-esque Monolith is a good thing. Original creations must be protected, and so much derivative creations. It's still creativity, and it's up to the people to decide which deserves their attention.

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 10:38:14 AM

Indeed. But this isn't how you want. This is how the people at ClearPlay creating the filters want. It's still censorship (granted, voluntarily purchased... For Now, he said ominously, reminding NTodd of the equally odious V-Chip), and it's still someone else getting paid for determining what other folks get to see.

(We still deal with that all the time. The not-showing of Saving Private Ryan awhile back. The Super Bowl Nipple Flash -- nine pixels that destroyed the world. Having to bleep Jon Stewart on a cable show after 11 pm. The best example that leaps to mind is when Blazing Saddles is shown on network TV. They get rid of the fart noises during the campfire scene, but still have Slim Pickens react to that piquant methane aroma; they screw with the soundtrack so that Lili Von Shtupp is referred to as "Lili Von Shhhhh"... but leave her name on the poster outside the saloon. Who do they think they're fooling, and what do they think they're protecting us from?)

As a parodist, I'm perhaps especially sensitive to this (you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to pay artists royalties, because of the rules of BMI and ASCAP). I change the heck out of the words, but I don't invalidate the original song.

And, even your example has big, big flaws. A great deal of the conversation between Lecter and Starling in Silence is about extremely distasteful subjects, e.g., her reaction to Miggs' "I can smell your cunt", in blunt language which is necessary for advancement of both character and story. If people in a psych class can't deal with that, they shouldn't be in a psych class.

Posted by: filkertom | Apr 28, 2005 10:39:19 AM

I was listening to 107.7 at work yesterday, and hearing Puddle of Mud's "She hates me". The clean up version was SO insulting to those of us who love the song. I'm not for changing the work. For those that dont' like it, don't watch/listen to it. I do see your point - the technology for those who want it - I just feel it's changing someone's work who wanted it to be that way.

As a side note, you seem to have Barbarian Blog listed twice on the right panel.

Posted by: Angie | Apr 28, 2005 10:41:11 AM

and so much derivative creations

Er, and so *must* derivative work...

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 10:42:48 AM

Hey, it's not like people are removing attribution. Content is being changed, it's advertised as being changed, and it still shows who created the original material. As far as I'm concerned, it's just like blogging! You snip out parts, present it, and don't take credit for anything other than the editorial decisions.

Ahhh, but, through citation links, you still leave access to all of the original work. Summary is not changing the content and context. Well, okay, it is on Faux News.

Posted by: filkertom | Apr 28, 2005 10:46:18 AM

Scooter -- dude, twenty years ago I worked in a comic shop. We had blatant editorial thoughts of our own (although, admittedly, it was along the lines of, "In a world with Swamp Thing, Mage, Cerebus, and ElfQuest, why are you buying X-Men and Secret Wars 2?") -- but we still sold the books to whoever wanted 'em and could pay for 'em. Only "censorship" we did was the obvious and legally necessary act of carefully keeping the titles labeled "mature audiences only" out of the hands of kids, unless the parents were there to give permission.

Posted by: filkertom | Apr 28, 2005 10:51:58 AM

This is how the people at ClearPlay creating the filters want. It's still censorship...

No, no it's not censorship. It's a company providing a service, and to flip your argument around: if you don't want to watch the cleaned up version, then buy the regular version that is still being sold at lowlow prices.

For those that dont' like it, don't watch/listen to it.

Again, flip that around. You don't like cleaned up versions on the radio? Buy the original on iTunes for 99 cents and listen on your iPod. Heck, I don't listen to commercial radio any more--my stereo is merely a conduit for my iPod.

And that's exactly the ultimate point: technology enables us, the users, to control how we use the content. All of this enables much more flexibility and true freedom. This ain't about saving the world, but damn it, this is an important point in the evolution of personal liberty.

I've changed songs all the time when you get down to it. It ain't because of language, but because I wanted to create a certain mood on my old radio show, or when I make mixes for friends, or now when I podcast. I'll cut chunks that don't communicate the message I'm trying to present (e.g., I only played "stop making sense" from Girlfriend Is Better in yesterday's cast).

Is my motivation any better than someone who likes a bassline and beat, but doesn't want to hear 'fuck'? I think the intent in both cases is the same: to hear what we want. Both are valid.

"Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief." Let's just face it that art is derivative and people experience it in different ways than the artist imagined. We might hope that people see what we saw, but in the end it's not about what the creator wants.

As a photog I certainly am concerned about protecting my work, especially since I'd like to make some money from it. However, if somebody finds inspiration for their own creation, whether it be a collage or an attempt to capture the same feel in their own photograph, I'm gratified. So long as nobody steals my picture and claims credit for it as is, or changes it and claims that's how I wanted to present it, it's all good.

As a side note, you seem to have Barbarian Blog listed twice on the right panel.

It deserves double recognition, but I'll delete one anyway. Thanks!

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 10:53:54 AM

Ahhh, but, through citation links, you still leave access to all of the original work. Summary is not changing the content and context. Well, okay, it is on Faux News.

Yes, and people who buy Silence of the Lambs (edited for pussies) know they can go buy the original. The title hasn't changed, so it should be easy to find. The original release isn't being thrown away, so it's still available for those of us who can take hearing the C word and watching a guy throw semen on Jodie Foster.

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 10:56:41 AM

As far as I can determine, the idea of ClearPlay is that their software/hardware has filters. You are playing the original version. If you have one of their set-top units, then you have to watch it as they envision. I'd be even more up in arms if they were distributing altered versions.

You want a truly ludicrous extrapolation, but one that I think is appropriate because I can see it affecting case law? All those science books in schools editing out evolutionary theory.

Posted by: filkertom | Apr 28, 2005 11:21:10 AM

Show Silence of the Lambs in Psych class? You have got to be kidding. The only legit psych related question about that film is "Are people who consider this anything other than exploitative chick-in-peril pap just stupid, or sick?"

Posted by: cs | Apr 28, 2005 11:27:36 AM

filk - but I'm buying the equipment with the express knowledge that the content will be filtered. That's the whole point of my getting it!

I think your extrapolation is not appropriate in this context. We're not talking about government-mandated education, but a corporation creating a value-added product/service and consumers choosing to make a purchase.

A better analogy might be that I buy a CD and use my programmable CD player (ignoring for the moment that I use my iPod exclusively these days) to change the play order and skip some songs. So now somebody's just created a player that has pre-programmed play lists and pots down swear words or something, saving me the trouble of doing it myself.

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 11:32:10 AM

Show Silence of the Lambs in Psych class? You have got to be kidding. The only legit psych related question about that film is "Are people who consider this anything other than exploitative chick-in-peril pap just stupid, or sick?"

Well, your mileage may vary. :-)

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 11:49:45 AM

I will never read Reader's Digest crap, nor listen to best hits of some musician I like. Don't edit for me, let me do it myself. So yes, when I buy something, it is mine. I now can do with it what I want. But I dislike taking stuff out of the context it's in, because then it free floats.

The movies we get now on tv have already been heavily filtered and modified. The very shift in framing (pan and scan) to make a movie fit the square box tv, the editing by indifferent channels to squish a movie into a two hour slot (with commercials, so one hour and 40 minutes) has ruined every movie it touches. We now rarely watch tv for entertainment, we buy the movies we want instead.

So does ClearPlay edit for you? That's horrible. Does it let you edit for yourself? That's wonderful! (Goodbye stupid previews!) Someone else predigesting my mental and spiritual nutrition is gross. Someone enabling me to pick and chose empowers me.

Posted by: ellroon | Apr 28, 2005 12:03:49 PM

When I first read this post I thought, "Yeah, I agree...". Then I read all the comments and now I'm as confused as a breatfeeding baby in a topless bar.
I am kinda partial to that line "Someone enabling me to pick and chose empowers me." I like being empowered.

Posted by: wanda | Apr 28, 2005 12:49:11 PM

You can find some pertinent articles of the bill and discussion of them here:

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/28/1223244&from=rss

...uuuummm...family entertainment act...uuuummmm...gooood...

Posted by: S Ty | Apr 28, 2005 12:54:29 PM

As a playwright, what bothers me about this law is that I am afraid that people will not see the difference between film, TV or DVD's and theatre -- to them it's all performance.

As a member of the Dramatists Guild, I know that if someone wants to produce one of my plays under the standard DG contract, they are absolutely forbidden from changing one word of the text or altering the script in any way, shape, or form without the express written permission of the author or his agent, and I have the right to rescind the license to perform the play from anybody that violates the contract. It doesn't prevent them from doing the play in any way they wish in terms of sets, lighting, costumes, etc. but they can't remove characters, alter their lines, or as in the case of one production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" by Edward Albee, do it with an all-male cast. Albee sued the theatre that did that and shut down the production.

This rule, which is different than copyright protection, was put in place to protect the playwright and his works from directors with "concepts" or squeamish producers who object to "dirty" language or "adult" content. I ran into a problem when I did a high school production of "Picnic" and the administration objected to the smoking and drinking in it. The assistant principal said, "Take out the smoking and drinking and there's no problem." I said, "Yes, there is. First, the entire outcome of Act II and the play is based on people getting tipsy, and second, it would expose me and the school to a suit for violating the agreement. Third, as a playwright, I wouldn't cut one line of this play strictly on the basis of preserving my integrity and self-respect as a writer." We kept the script intact, but not without a fight because they didn't feel it was "family appropriate." Ironically, I didn't have a problem with "Grease" five months later. It has the same behavior, plus a pregnancy scare, but "everybody loves a musical." Sheesh.

It's different with film; when I sell the rights of a play to a film company, the filmmakers can do whatever they want to the script. (Not that I would approve of turning the lead of "Can't Live Without You" into a nympho-killer-lesbo-whore, but once they bought it, it's theirs.) But a play is not "sold" to a theatre company; it's rented out, and just like you can't rent a car from Hertz and repaint it, you can't touch my script.

Granted, plays are cut every day, especially if they're in the public domain. At four hours, no one today can be expected to sit through a production of "King Lear" without some judicious cutting, and since Shakespeare isn't covered by the DG contract, he's out of luck. But the idea of editing a play for the sake of protecting the sensibilities of the audience or keeping naughty language out of earshot of children is offensive to me and any playwright I know or respect. Theatres have enough trouble as it is in getting good plays done, and I think this law could open the door to some theatrical version of ClearPlay. It's censorship, pure and simple, and I hate it.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby | Apr 28, 2005 1:05:01 PM

I can't manage wanda's colorful imagery :), but I share her ambivalence about this.

Hey, it's not like people are removing attribution. Content is being changed. - NTodd

For me, that is a large part of the problem. My policy on my doggerel has always been, more or less, "steal what you want, but steal it intact, unmodified, with attribution, and please don't post it on your own web site... emailing, etc. is OK." A few people have bothered to do that (no problem); a few others have written doggerel in response (cool!) or have parodied my doggerel (way cool!). And a very, very few (one, that I know about) have decided to edit my content, change words, screw with the meter, etc., but leave my name underneath it (not cool). The guy who did that got an earful from me.

There are really (at least) two issues here, and I think it's important to distinguish the right-to-censor-in-your-own-home issue from the artistic-integrity-of-stuff-presented-over-my-name issue.

ClearPlay has created a machine that rewrites content client-side, but it does so automatically and (potentially) massively. If I were creating content, I would have serious problems with that. This is not a case of creative derivation, as in parody or rearrangement by a human author/musician/whoever. Indeed, there is no creativity at all involved; it's done by a fuckin' algorithm.

The original motivation for copyright (long since abandoned by our corporate-owned Congress) was to grant some benefit to the creators of works for a period of time, while allowing subsequent modification and derivation by other creative people. As there is no subsequent human creativity in what comes out of a ClearPlay box, I don't see that that output merits any derivative-creative-work protection.

Now if consumers were willing to sit down with editing equipment and software and acquire expertise and make their own versions in their own homes for their own families' viewing "pleasure," I'd be OK with that (though not if they distribute the results outside their home, at least not without the permission of the owner of the original). But that's not what is happening here.

Decisions to include rude language, sex scenes, etc. in creative works are, often enough, artistic decisions. Decisions to remove them are something else. Applying that to my own work, those who want polite doggerel can write their own. But anyone who bowdlerizes my doggerel can expect... well, I once wrote a poem about John Ashcroft that I considered too rude to publish, and my censor can expect similar treatment... but in public.

Posted by: Steve Bates | Apr 28, 2005 1:39:58 PM

I think there are a number of issues being conflated here: censorship, protection of IP, preservation of artistic intent, the rights of people to create derived work or value-added services and the rights of the consumers. I think all the points raised thus far are interesting and good, but they don't change my mind.

* Censorship: a corporation bleeping a word is not censorship. A government bleeping a word is.

* Protecting IP/artistic intent: I don't want anybody to make money by printing my photographs and selling them without my getting a cut. I don't want anybody editing my photos and claiming it was the way I shot it, or claiming they shot it. But somebody changing it and saying "NTodd took a shot and I edited it differently" is fine with me.

It's no different than if they buy a print and matte it in a way that blocks a piece of it. I should have no control over presentation once it leaves my hands. I'm sorry, but the same goes for plays, movies, music and clay pots. Yes, if I have a specific license or contract, then yes people need to abide by it. And of course, there's that pesky law stuff.

My point is that philosophically I can't accept the idea that once I create something that people need to view it exactly the way I imagined they would if I sell it to them. If I display it in a museum, I have control. Once I give somebody possession of my creation, it's theirs to shit on, put on a wall, file away and forget about, whatever.

* Corporations/people and edited versions: It's true that editing a film isn't "artistic" in the sense of being creative, but it is a value-added service that some consumers want. Are we to deny people access to content because they don't like the word 'fuck'? Sure saying that in The Sopranos or Deadwood is an artistic choice, but fuck any artist who is arrogant enough to think their art is perfect and interacting with it in any way but the one they envisioned is offensive.

So somebody is taking movies and saying "hey, here's something David Lynch created and we're taking out the really weird stuff". The people buying that service know this isn't the way Lynch envisioned his movie, but too damn bad. So it's not taking credit for the creation, and it's not attributing the edited version to the creator. It's offering people a chance to fundamentally view the content in their own way without each individual having to get editing hardware/software. I see nothing wrong with that ultimate leap.

I'm astonished that liberal-type people can say, "Don't like it? Don't watch it, but let me watch it," when decrying attempts at censoring offensive content, but then tell the people who are following that advice they are wrong as well. Their retort would easily be the same: don't want to watch an edited version, you have the right to watch the original, but don't deny me the right to watch it differently.

It's individual liberty we're talking about here. Don't let an appropriate distrust of corporations and Michael Medved blind you to that fact.

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 3:45:44 PM

When I edit something out of my own plays or skip over the naughty bits in a movie that I've rented, that's my own judgment. When someone else does it for me, be they a corporation, a government, or the guy at the video store, that's censorship: someone else is making a judgment for me. While the First Amendment applies only to government, the spirit of it is that it allows each one of us to make the decision for ourselves. That's individual liberty to me.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby | Apr 28, 2005 6:22:10 PM

My knee-jerk immediate reaction to this is pretty much the same as filkertom, Scooter, et. al.: Voluntary or not, it *is* a form of censorship and a distortion of the creator's original vision.

My big-picture, pragmatic reaction (and in fact what I anticipated your reason for favoring this would be) is that the capability for censorship on the consumption side *reduces* the need (or the excuse) for censorship on the *production* side. The logical extension of this would be to allow filmmakers the luxury of making films as violent or raunchy as they want, and then allowing the viewers to decide for themselves whether they prefer to watch the Mild, Hot, or Super Fire Hot version. Win-win for everyone but the fundies' kids, but hey, it's not like their parents were going to show them Kill Bill anyway.

An additional semi-positive development would be giving the director some input or control into how the scenes are flagged, or possibly even provide alternate versions or scenes like you see on TV versions of films. Yes, it'll still be lame, but there's a better chance of coherence and preserving some remnant of the director's original vision.

Acknowledging, of course, that while it's a short *logical* leap from A to B, the right-wing culture warriors will continue to be offended by the very *existence* of R-rated content, so the reality is that this will simply double the layers of censorship imposed on movies.

Posted by: Eli | Apr 28, 2005 6:27:27 PM

Oh, and I'm surprised no-one played the trump card: If Bush is in favor of it, it can't possibly *not* be evil, and is almost certainly a wedge or a precedent for something more diabolical and sinister that we haven't quite figured out yet. The most obvious would be to make censorship seem like a more normal, acceptable thing. Desirable, even, since it's something people would *pay* for.

Posted by: Eli | Apr 28, 2005 6:31:18 PM

Yes, NTodd, I agree completely. There is nothing fundamentally different from what ClearPlay's product allows consumers to do and what a TV with a mute button allows consumers to do. Should Hollywood be able to sue Sony for making TVs that have mute buttons? Should they be able to sue TiVo for letting consumers skip past commercials? No. As NTodd has said, once the consumer pays for the the content, how he/she views that content is up to the consumer.

Filkertom mentioned the "odious V-chip." The V-chip itself is fine. It puts the power to control content into the consumers' hands--where it belongs--instead of in the government's hands. The problem with the V-Chip was in the government insisting that manufacturers include it in TVs. Let the consumers decide if they want that level of content control. Same goes for the ClearPlay devise. Bush was (shudder) right.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Apr 28, 2005 6:40:27 PM

Let's be clear about this. What this ClearPlay devise does in *NOT* censorship in any sense. True, to technically, according to Hoyle, be censorship, the content control must come from the government--they're the only ones the fist amendment protects us from. But a larger point is that consumers get to choose to use the ClearPlay box or not. No one is forcing anyone to buy the thing--not the government, not ClearPlay, no one. Careful throwing that "C" word around. It's largely misunderstood and misused.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Apr 28, 2005 6:46:33 PM

When someone else does it for me, be they a corporation, a government, or the guy at the video store, that's censorship

As Bill said, nobody's FORCING people who purchase ClearPlay devices. Therein lies the difference. People are making a conscious--albeit it misguided in our eyes--choice to view something that is altered in a way that reflects their world view.

The logical extension of this would be to allow filmmakers the luxury of making films as violent or raunchy as they want, and then allowing the viewers to decide for themselves whether they prefer to watch the Mild, Hot, or Super Fire Hot version.

Exactly where I think it's headed and where I want it to head. The e-commerce mindset is all about ultra-customization. That's the real revolution of the iPod, and it will sweep over the movie industry as well.

Yes, NTodd, I agree completely.

I'm not surprised, though I admit I wondered if you would, as a filmmaker, be opposed. However, I figured your experience at public access would color your views a bit! Do I sense a Friday Coffeeblogging podcast topic?

Posted by: NTodd | Apr 28, 2005 7:16:15 PM

I'm going to be stubborn about this, I guess. I don't want someone else making decisions about the content of my work without my consent, and whether or not they offer an unexpurgated version or not isn't relevant. It's an assault on my work and my art. Any film director who isn't incensed by post-market manipulation of their work should be, and I'll bet the Directors Guild isn't too happy about this law, either.

By the way, I also thought Ted Turner's ill-begotten mission to "colorize" classic b/w films like "Casablanca" a couple of decades ago was an egregious assault on those films and the director's vision.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby | Apr 28, 2005 7:55:07 PM

Funny if I think my daughter, the 11 year old, is not mature enough to handle a movie I don't rent the movie for her, or if I rent it for me to watch I condemn her to an evening spent reading *gasp* a book. Taking out a couple of dirty words or a sex scene or two isn't really going to change the theme of most movies, which is what I am more concerned about than if my kids hear the f word, because if they have ever been in the house with me when Meet the Press is on they have heard the f word, and heard it used well and loudly. It really is about the overall message of a movie and not so much the language or sex scenes. And I really hate watching movies with bleeps in them, why wouldn't my daughter who is smart enough to figure out that the durn was a damn and soforth.

Posted by: rugo | Apr 28, 2005 8:08:44 PM

Speaking as a filmmaker, I can say that yes, I get particular about how my work is viewed in the outside world. I exert whatever kind of control I can over that process--whether it's DVD design or sound mixing or interfacing with the projectionist at a film festival. However, there is only so much control I can reasonably exert without tramping on someone else's rights. For example, it would be unreasonable for me to expect that no one adjust the brightness or contrast of their TVs while watching my films. Likewise, it would be unreasonable for me to expect everyone to listen to the volume at a particular level. It is even more unreasonable to force someone to view a given work in any particular way via the courts (that really does smack of censorship). So to Mustang Bobby and anyone else who is feeling extremely protective of how their work is viewed, all I can say is: get over it. People are going to filter what they view in LOTS of different ways. Be happy they're choosing to view what you made in the first place.

All of this is beside the main point, however, which is that AV tech vendors should not have their hands tied in offering the TYPE of content filtering that the market desires--be it volume, contrast, picture-in-picture, commercial skipping, or in this case, naughty word filtering.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Apr 28, 2005 9:06:04 PM

If "content filtering" on the consumer side meant the fundies would back off on it on the production side, I'd be all for it. Unfortunately, they believe the naughty content is Pure Evil regardless of whether anyone ever chooses to watch it.

Posted by: Eli | Apr 28, 2005 10:14:33 PM

To state the obvious, we have a lot of people in this thread engaged in a variety of creative disciplines, and no two of us sees this set of issues exactly the same way.

That alone should counsel a certain wariness of passing laws on the subject. Bush's motives in advocating this law do make a difference, and they aren't benign. I could make a slippery slope argument, but I'm too tired, and I'd probably laugh at the same argument tomorrow. Let's just say that as future copyright-bending laws emerge... and they will... they will not be made with content creators in mind.

These days, I tap code for a living. As I am a contractor, the client paying me owns any copyright to the code from the moment I write it. (In one sense, this is good for me: I am able to re-create and re-sell the same general kind of code to a variety of clients, each of whom wants a custom work and control over it.) But while programming is creative work, it is not artistic work in any meaningful sense of the word.

I am completely comfortable with my client's control over the code I write for them; all of it is throwaway, even in the relatively short term.

I don't see art, music, drama, film, etc. in the same light. When I wear my musician's hat, it's one thing for me to get paid union scale for a concert or a wedding job, another to play for a recording or a video, and still another to see a recording used in a context I dislike. Yes, of course, I have to get over it, and I do.

But if the James Dobsons of the world begin censoring all the tritones in a work by J.S. Bach because the interval of the tritone is known as the "devil in music," I'm outta here. :)

Posted by: Steve Bates | Apr 28, 2005 10:38:37 PM

I never liked it when Ted colorized those movies either. When a
work is completed, let it stand or fall on its own merits. Now, our
collective or individual perception of said work may or may not change, this is natural, however, censoring, in any way,shape or form, is destroying, or at best, diluting, the original intent of the artist/crafter.

Posted by: sightunseen | May 2, 2005 2:49:43 AM

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