Why it takes a feder…
Why it takes a federal law to allow people to skip scenes in movies is something I just don’t understand.

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.

Critics of the bill have argued it was aimed at helping one company, Utah-based ClearPlay Inc., whose technology is used in some DVD players. ClearPlay sells filters for hundreds of movies that can be added to such DVD players for $4.95 each month. Hollywood executives maintain that ClearPlay should pay them licensing fees for altering their creative efforts.

I’ve talked about ClearPlay here and here. To me, it’s just a complete misapplication of copyright to insist that fast-forwarding past objectionable stuff is somehow illegal. I’m glad this legislation passed, although I wish it wasn’t necessary.

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