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September 19, 2002

How about not watching?

> There's an article in today's Wall Street Journal about businesses like CleanFlicks and Trilogy Studios, who are out to sanitize movies for the prudes of America. It's fair use, I suppose, if you want to bowdlerize your own copy of Traffic for yourself or your kids (although why would you let your kids watch it if you feel it's inappropriate?), but to profit by stripping movies of their objectionable content and distributing them for sale or for rental to fellow small-minded people - hey, that's a violation of copyright, not to mention an act of censorship. One guy in the article justifies this activity by saying it's about "choice" and that "this is America." There are American laws protecting such rights - you don't have a choice of violating copyright for non-expressive purposes (i.e., parody). You can choose to view a film, as presented in final form, or not. (Hell, fast-forward for all I care.) You can wait for the sanctioned version to come out on television, but that's about all the choice you have without infringing on the rights of others to present their work as they choose.

I don't understand why people think there's a difference between splicing up a film and banning a book from a library. It's like literally ripping out pages, or blacking out lines of text. Is that really the American way?

Yours, &c., LC | 02:09 PM | Legal