Cleaned up versions on tape & DVD.. Is this legal?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Douglas Kalon, Aug 26, 2002.

  1. Douglas Kalon

    Douglas Kalon Stunt Coordinator

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    I know that this may old news to some, but a local news channel had on a report about a service that will take either tape or DVD movies that you send in and make a copy on either tape or DVD that removes swear words, sex and violence.
    One site says that they return the original DVD to you, but it is now unplayable.
    I can kind of understand why some people might want this, but I am not one of them. If you want a censored version of a movie then just wait till it's on regular TV and record it, otherwise isn't this against the law. I am sure that neither the director or studio has given these companies permission to do this. And these companies are getting paid for this service. So in my mind they are nothing more than video pirates.
    I can't understand why the studios hasn't done anything about these companies.
    The two sites I found on the net are as follows.
    http://www.cleanflicks.com/
    http://www.ok.com/
    This post is in no way advocating this service or any form of video piracy. If the Forum Administrator wishes to he can delete this post.
    I just wanted to discuss this and see if this is legal or not and what other members thought about this service.
     
  2. Greg_Y

    Greg_Y Screenwriter

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    Douglas,

    This has actually been discussed in a few threads over the last year or so. The conversation usually spirals into charges of censorship, etc. etc. The discussion gets more and more heated. Then the thread gets closed.

    Most HTF members are against this type of service.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It is illegal.

    The company is selling tapes of movies which are not theirs with unauthorized changes. I doubt they send any money back to the original studio.

    And censorship programs like Movie Mask turn swords into lightsabres...which results in a totally different mood. In fact, I've heard that the DGA is threatening to sue MovieMask over some of the changes they do to films. Clipping stuff from The Usual Suspects is one thing (no better, however), but the whole lightsabres deal for TPB is equal to offering a version of Huckleberry Finn in digital book form with all the "racist" vocalbuary taken out and promoting it as the "better" version.

    Check out the 2nd line in my signature.
     
  4. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Gee, I think by offering DVD copies of these movies, they violate the DCMA. What a shame!

    Get 'em boys!
     
  5. Daniel J

    Daniel J Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't understand why people on this board are so rabid when it comes to edited versions of popular films. If someone wants to see an edited version of a movie, who are you to judge their taste? You can watch your version of Die Hard, I'll watch mine [​IMG]
    Now, if the director is so vehemently opposed to the alteration of their work, then they should be respected. But I don't think many filmmakers are really uptight enough about their work that they would sue over the private alteration of 5% of the dialog in their film.
    You have to remember that this isn't censorship, or preventing the expression of someone's ideas; that would violate constitutional freedoms. But where does it say that I cannot use white-out on my copy of Black Hawk Down, if I so choose? Who says I can't buy a lithograph of the Mona Lisa and give her a mustache? Why isn't this freedom of expression protected? Why are studios allowed to edit movies for airlines and prime time television, but not to sell them to a public who wants them? Remember that this is a service that people are asking for, not a scheme to make money at the expense of filmmakers. I don't believe that any of these organisations would try to sell you an edited copy, they are taking a copy that you already own and changing it for you.
    It's a service performed with goods privately owned, without damage to the revenues or reputations of anyone. If anything, this service allows people to see more of the great films out there that they would not consider otherwise.
    I have a feeling that this thread is doomed to suffer the fate of all others on the subject, but it would be nice if we could have a real discussion of this issue from all four sides; perhaps a guest discussion feature, or a special interview sometimes down the road?
     
  6. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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  7. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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  8. Michael Ballack

    Michael Ballack Second Unit

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    There's an article on videobusiness's website discussing this very issue. The studios are looking into the matter and considering there legal rights to sue these "editing to make it better" companies.
    Personally I hope the studios sue there pants off and win. Although I think the studios have been complete A-holes over this HDTV issue, this is something I can't stand. Once again, if you want your kids to watch something for the whole family take out a disney film. Editing the Matrix for the whole family doesn't make the subject matter any more appropiate for children. If you still think that even Disney films are to harsh for kids, then... I'm sorry. You can't keep your kid sheltered forever.
    Below is the website for the article. One of the companies the studios are looking to sue is Clean Flicks.
    http://www.videobusiness.com/article...2&catType=NEWSediting to make it better
     
  9. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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  10. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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  11. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    For a moment, let's ignore the unConstitutionally-broad anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA (which could pose problems for editing just about any prerecorded video).

    The problem is not that it is illegal to make an edited copy of a (non-copy-protected) film. If you own an original copy, First Sale and Fair Use provisions should preserve your right to edit the film for your personal use (or classroom use, etc.).

    It's that a commercial business is subject to much more restrictive standards of Fair Use. Unauthorized non-commercial use is presumed Fair. Unauthorized commercial use is presumed infringing. This is the distinction that cost MP3.com over $150 million when it decided to stream MP3 versions of popular songs to people who owned, or had just bought, the CDs.

    A shop that sells the service of making an edited/censored version of your original video could find itself in legal trouble in several ways:

    1. DMCA anti-circumvention.

    2. Unauthorized commercial use "presumed infringing".

    3. Trademark suits (if the lawyers get creative -- "you're diluting the value of the title of the film by putting out unmarked censored copies").

    Now, on the other hand, if a shop sells you a list of all of the spots in a film that "need" to be censored, and the list is in machine-readable form, and your enhanced player ("home theater PC") can apply that list directly, there is probably nothing the studios can do about it.
     
  12. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    It may be legal to make an edit of a movie yourself for private use, although it's not necessarily legal, as the AHRA only allows noncommercial personal use of digital and analog musical recording devices; no such right is explicitly recognized yet for movies as far as I know. The 9th Circuit's recognition of a fair use right to "space shift" (which has only applied to music as of yet) may be able to extend to videos, but even so, it would still only apply to those states within the 9th Circuit. Anyhow, it is almost certainly not legal for a 3rd party that you hire to edit a film on video for you if such editing requires the making of a copy, even if you own an original (i.e., a legally-purchased copy) of said film on video. If the editing can be done without actual copying, however (say, editing directly onto the original legally-purchased VHS cassette), the First Sale Doctrine would apply, and such editing would be allowable. This would be like, for instance, taking a Sharpie and blacking out text in a book and then re-selling that book. It might be a lame thing to do, but it wouldn't violate copyright law; same thing with editing a video directly without copying.

    DJ
     
  13. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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  14. Daniel J

    Daniel J Stunt Coordinator

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  15. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  16. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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  17. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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  18. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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  19. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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  20. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    P.S. - I believe the DVD-Video specification provides a standard "parental lock" for censoring movie playback, according to a user-chosen, password-protected setting. Presumably this would work in conjunction with seamless branching. The uncensored movie stays available for the members of the family who are allowed to watch it.

    Whether studios make much use of this is another matter.
     

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