Thursday, March 03, 2005

Musings on FECA's Passing

In the US the House Judiciary Committee's copyright subcommittee today unanimously approved the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (FECA). On 3 February the Senate did the same, and the bill is now up for a vote in the House, probably before the US Supreme Court's decision in the Grokster case, somewhere in June. The FECA is a bit of a hybrid and
  • gives the right to use devices like ClearPlay that filter movies on make them "family friendly"
  • increase the penalty for people that (pre)distribute movies/music before their official release
  • the prohibition to bring an audiovisual recording device into a movie theater to make a copy
For the last act, camcording a movie, you can be sent to jail for three years. While there is not much more to say on the FECA, it is interesting that US Congress is willing to legally protect pro-family technological devices that keep the editing locked in to a machine and (ClearPlay) business model, but does not (yet) allow people to do some editing on (copy protected) content themselves:
"Parents should be able to mute or skip over anything they want if they feel it's in the best interests of their children," said [Rep. Lamar] Smith. "Just as the author of a book should not be able to force someone to read that book in any particular manner or order, a studio or director should not be able to force parents or their children to watch a movie in a particular way."
Then, should someone be forced to watch an anti-piracy message on a purchased DVD without an option to skip it? Should someone be forced to listen to music and view movies in a preset manner, being prevented from taking them to pieces and remix them to their will? Should a studio be able to force parents and non-parents alike from extracting music and movie excerpts, not for not seeing and hearing them, but to integrate them in personal and scholarly works? Different questions, which' answers walk a different legal line. But should they?
- - -
Wired on the "original" FECA


Anonymous mark said...

Is the effect that Clearplay can, even when the rightholder strongly objects, at all times take out the in their eyes offensive parts and rent these chastised versions? Of course I see the analogy with skipping the offensive parts in a book that one rightfully bought, but on a larger scale it can really damage the artistic integrity, no?

Escape: insert an advertisement containing offensive parts from the movie. These can't be changed, so Clearplay has to take it or leave it.... :-)

4/3/05 10:55  

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