Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

My Family, My Movie

Filed under
Legal

The Family Movie Act of 2005, signed by President George W. Bush on Wednesday, was aimed at folks who use software to cut out four-letter words, nudity and graphic violence from movies they rent or buy for home viewing.

But the law may also loosen Hollywood's tight control over its products. It passes some of the control over how movies are edited to you and, hypothetically, a mini-industry of movie remix artists.

U.S. copyright law makes it illegal to sell edited versions of Hollywood films. But the Family Movie Act says if you use software to "mak[e] imperceptible changes to...limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture...from an authorized copy of the motion picture," you're OK. Just don't create a "fixed copy of the altered version."

The law came about in part due to the efforts of William Aho and his tiny Salt Lake City software company called ClearPlay. For years, Aho had scratched his head and wondered why Hollywood refused to release on DVD versions of its most popular movies that would be slightly altered to appeal more to squeamish parents. Sensing an opportunity, he founded ClearPlay (see "Monster In A Box").

Aho's software, when installed onto a DVD player, makes the player mute or skip ahead when something objectionable happens in a movie. (The software isn't smart enough to recognize curse words or violence; Aho employs teams of editors who watch movies, find the objectionable bits and program a movie-specific filter to excise the bad stuff frame by frame.) Aho successfully lobbied to create the Family Movie Act after billionaire director Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford, Steven Soderbergh, 13 other famed Hollywood directors and eight large studios sued ClearPlay in U.S. District Court in Denver, claiming its software violated copyright laws. The new law is a direct blow to them.

But could it also seed a new industry? Annual DVD sales are around $16 billion. It's easy to envision a side business in DVD filters. Since it's now OK for ClearPlay to create filters that make Spider-Man 2--produced by Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people )--less violent, it's also legal for bowdlerizers to create filters that would serve other purposes. Somebody, for example, needs to create a filter that would excise all the stupidity about Gaelic poetry in Million Dollar Baby, from Time Warner's (nyse: TWX - news - people ) Warner Bros. studio. Another hot-selling filter would be one that mutes out all the ruinous voice-over in Wonder Boys.

There's a proven market for these kinds of edits; witness what happened to George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace. In 2001, an alternative version of Lucas' unloved sequel, called Episode 1.1--The Phantom Edit, created a sensation among fans of the 1970s original. Created by a fan, the edited version cut 20 minutes from the film. The excisions all but deleted a dopey character (Jar Jar Binks) and got rid of several other annoyances, like Anakin Skywalker's shouts of "Yahoo!" and "Whoopee!" during the movie's pod-racing sequence.

Lucas went from amused to horrified. And the edit-happy fan--no doubt worried about getting sued--later apologized. If the Family Movie Act had been in force then, he could have been rolling in dough instead.

Aho admits the law "doesn't discriminate" about what kind of filters you would create. "As long as it was purely subtractive, the law supports it," he says. He believes the market for family-type filters is around $100 million, "but I don't think there's much of a market for filters [that aren't] family-friendly."

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

OSS Leftovers

  • Open source movement to disrupt NFV and SDN marketplace
    According to Technology Business Research’s 1Q18 NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape report, open-source groups will spur NFV and SDN adoption by establishing industry standards that foster interoperability among a broader range of solution providers.
  • First look at Google Chrome's UI design refresh
    Users of Google Chrome Canary, the cutting edge version of Google's web browser, have a chance to get a sneak peek of a user interface design refresh that Google may plan to launch in all versions of Chrome eventually. The feature is hidden behind a flag currently but that is a common practice by Google; the company uses flags to hide future features from the general population. While there is no guarantee that features will land in Chrome one day, it is often the case that Google uses experimental flags to prepare the wider release.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird: Thunderbird April News Update: GSoC, 60 Beta 4, New Thunderbird Council
    Due to lots of news coming out of the Thunderbird project, I’ve decided to combine three different blog posts I was working on into one news update that gives people an idea of what has been happening in the Thunderbird community this month.
  • New Mozilla Poll: Support for Net Neutrality Grows, Trust in ISPs Dips
    “Today marks the ostensible effective date for the FCC’s net neutrality repeal order, but it does not mark the end of net neutrality,” says Denelle Dixon, Mozilla COO. “And not just because some procedural steps remain before the official overturning of the rules — but because Mozilla and other supporters of net neutrality are fighting to protect it in the courts and in Congress.” Also today: Mozilla is publishing results from a nationwide poll that reveals where Americans stand on the issue. Our survey reinforces what grassroots action has already demonstrated: The repeal contradicts most Americans’ wishes. The nation wants strong net neutrality rules.
  • Another Summer of Code with Smack
    I’m very happy to announce that once again I will participate in the Summer of Code. Last year I worked on OMEMO encrypted Jingle Filetransfer for the XMPP client library Smack. This year, I will once again contribute to the Smack project. A big thanks goes out to Daniel Gultsch and Conversations.im, who act as an umbrella organization.
  • NOAA’s Mission Toward Open Data Sharing
    The goal of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to put all of its data — data about weather, climate, ocean coasts, fisheries, and ecosystems – into the hands of the people who need it most. The trick is translating the hard data and making it useful to people who aren’t necessarily subject matter experts, said Edward Kearns, the NOAA’s first ever data officer, speaking at the recent Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS).   NOAA’s mission is similar to NASA’s in that it is science based, but “our mission is operations; to get the quality information to the American people that they need to run their businesses, to protect their lives and property, to manage their water resources, to manage their ocean resources,” said Kearns, during his talk titled “Realizing the Full Potential of NOAA’s Open Data.” He said that NOAA was doing Big Data long before the term was coined and that the agency has way too much of it – to the tune of 30 petabytes in its archives with another 200 petabytes of data in a working data store. Not surprisingly, NOAA officials have a hard time moving it around and managing it, Kearns said.
  • Document Freedom Day Singapore 2018
    On the 28 March 2018, Fedora Ambassadors organized Document Freedom Day in Singapore. Document Freedom Day is a day which like-minded folks who care about libre document formats gather to discuss and raise awareness of libre document formats. Libre document formats help reduce restrictions and vendor lock-ins. They are also an important tool that enables our right to read freely.

How to Run Android Apps and Games on Linux

Want to run Android apps on Linux? How about play Android games? Several options are available, but the one that works the best is Anbox, a useful tool that runs your favorite Android apps on Linux without emulation. Here’s how to get it up and running on your Linux PC today. Read more Also: 8 Best Android Apps For Kids To Help Children Learn With Fun | 2018 Edition

SUSE: openSUSE Tumbleweed and SUSE in HPC

  • Krita, Linux Kernel, KDEConnect Get Updated in Tumbleweed
    There have been a few openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots released in the past two weeks that brought some new features and fixes to users. This blog will go over the past two snapshots. The last snapshot, 20180416, had several packages updated. The adobe-sourceserifpro-fonts package updated to version 2.000; with the change, the fonts were refined to make the Semibold and Bold heavier. Both dbus-1 and dbus-1-x11 were updated to 1.12.6, which fixed some regreations introduced in version 1.10.18 and 1.11.0. The gtk-vnc 0.7.2 package deprecated the manual python2 binding, which will be deleted in the next release, in favor of GObject introspection. Notifications that caused a crash were fixed in kdeconnect-kde 1.3.0. The 4.16.2 Linux Kernel made ip_tunnel, ipv6, ip6_gre, ip6_tunnel and vti6 better to validate user provided tunnel names. Due to a build system failure, not all 4.16.2 binaries were built correctly; this will be resolved in the 20180417 snapshot, which will be released shortly. Krita 4.0.1 had multiple fixes from its major version upgrade. The visual diff and merge tool meld 3.19.0 added new features like a new per-pane status bar with selectors for syntax highlighting and text encoding. Python Imaging Library python-Pillow 5.1.0 removed the freetype-2.9.patch and YaST had several packages with a version bump.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing in the SLE 15 Beta Program!
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Prepares HPC Module
    The upcoming release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 is offering an HPC (High Performance Computing) module for development, control, and compute nodes. Today that SLE15-HPC module is now available in beta.

OPNsense 18.1.6

For more than 3 years now, OPNsense is driving innovation through modularising and hardening the code base, quick and reliable firmware upgrades, multi-language support, fast adoption of upstream software updates as well as clear and stable 2-Clause BSD licensing. Read more