An Immodest Proposal: Reverse Censorship

That seems reasonable. You’d either need a special DVD player or some special software for your computer. The added scenes probably wouldn’t be too long (unless you want to turn every movie into a bondage epic) so they could probably be distributed over the internet reasonably well.

I’m also excited about this technology because it means I might get to see a copy of the Phantom Edit that doesn’t look like total crap.

No, not a whoosh, confusion on my part. I was talking about people maintaining that excising dirty words and scenes was NOT altering a film, whereas inserting them was. Your scheme does in fact bypass the problem altogether, and is kinda like what ClearPlay does.

[Krusty the Clown] I heartily endorse this product or service[/Krusty]

Got it. Well, in the article you posted, (altered tapes for rent) someone claiming to have not altered the film would be using words to mean something else then what they really mean. (“Per-censoring a copy of a film I rent for my kids is good, so legally, it must be okay. Add bondage scenes is not, so it must be illegal”) Something they probably have no problem with doing.

Technologies like MediaMask and ClearPlay don’t actually alter anything. They use a script, developed specially for each movie, that tells a compatible DVD player (or their own DVD player software) which parts to skip or blur out. These scripts are provided by the manufacturer as new movies come out.

For comparison, look at the program feature built into most DVD players. You can tell your DVD player “play chapters 1-10, skip chapter 11, and then play chapters 12-20”. If you were an overprotective parent, you could find a list of which chapters on some new DVD contain violence or nudity, and only let your kids watch it if they skip those chapters. These technologies simply do the same thing on a finer scale - instead of skipping an entire chapter, you can skip a few frames, or block part of a frame from appearing on screen, and you don’t have to program the list by hand. The actual content on the DVD is the same; you’re merely changing how your equipment interprets it.

However, that defense doesn’t apply to those who are actually selling sanitized tapes and DVDs.

Thank you, Krusty, for that totally independent and unsolicited endorsement or promotional activity.

The people who sell the sanitized tapes and DVDs are basing their defense on the fact that they purchase and provide to the consumer an unaltered version of the original tape/DVD with every sanitized one they sell.

I wonder how well it’d go over if I bought a few DVDs, made DVD-R copies, and sold the copies along with the originals. Two for the price of one!

Probably not too well. Copying the DVD involves a DMCA violation (circumventing the access control), whether you go on to burn it straight to a DVD-R or edit it first, and the DMCA doesn’t make any exceptions for fair use, so the economic impact argument is irrelevant.

Forget the DVD player. Think something like a Tivo. You sell a service that will insert clips into the playback of the original movie file. Don’t mess with it, and it isn’t your concern how it got there. No DMCA violation (for you, at least).

Well, you could do it legally even with a DVD player, as long as you aren’t actually selling sanitized copies of the movie (which would be unauthorized derivative works). And I’d applaud you for it, just for thumbing your nose at the uptight parents who are so set on sheltering their kids from Hollywood that they’ll buy special DVD players and subscribe to a patch service just to cut out parts of the DVDs they’ve paid for.

The basic idea is simple enough: put a hard drive inside a DVD player, and have it automatically mix patch scenes from the hard drive and original scenes from the DVD as it plays. Put an Ethernet jack on the back of the DVD player so it can download patches over the internet, or let subscribers without broadband download the patches onto CDs to be loaded onto the hard drive. If you use MPEG 4 for the patch scenes, a minute-long DVD quality scene would only be about 5 MB.

With a device like that, no one has to rip a DVD, and no one will face 321-Studios-esque legal threats for selling a device that can rip DVDs.

The OP asks a very good question, one that made me stop and think for a while, and I’m still not sure what The Right Answer is. (And other people brought up some good points that made me think some more.)

One small issue is that, if you insert bondage scenes into a movie, you turn it into a porno movie, subject to the extra restictions on whom you can sell or show it to. But to eliminate that distraction, we could just instead posit adding scenes of cute fuzzy kittens and puppies and small children eating birthday cake. Or, heck, that we were adding color to a black & white film. This whole thing is somewhat reminiscent of the great colorization debate.

Ingrid Bergman

Unless of course you really want to see a sex scene between Bogart and Ingmar Bergman :eek:

Those crazy, crazy Swedes and their crazy, crazy names!

Sure, what’s inserted into the movie is irrelevant, to a certain extent. If fuzzy, fuzzy kittens …

say, what about having a service where the movie is free if they let you insert commercials into it?

Kinda like network TV, eh? (Which would also “clean up” the movie if necessary.)

I think customizing content is an awesome idea. More or less sex/violence or whatever seems like the next logical step to me. I already have a device that lets me choose what t.v. programs to record for viewing. I would love to see the next step where I could say, just grab the sports/weather from my local new cast and and skip the “Are your children safe at school?” crap. Only it’s not legal. Of the things mentioned above only the clearplay method seems to me to be legal. It would be no different than if I hired a person who had already seen the movie to come over and press mute/fast forward for me on my remote as I watch the movie. I think the whole artist vision thing is way over played. Nearly every movie eventually makes it to broadcast television where it get edited to hell and back. So much for the artist vision when dollars are concerned.

It’s interesting that the idea of using tech to customize content is being so well received here. So often when copyright issues rear their ugly head on the Dope, the Defenders of Copyright shout down anyone who claims our present system should be changed in any way, or make any kind of adjustment.

Well, it wouldn’t really be a change, would it? MediaMask, ClearPlay, etc. are operating legally today, and your proposal isn’t all that different.

I’m more surprised that the Knights of the Artist’s Sacred Intent haven’t come in to tell us how disrespectful it is to watch a movie interspliced with scenes the director might not approve of. “Why, if the people behind Casablanca knew that one day, their movie would appear to have bondage scenes in it,” they’d say, “they might have decided never to film it at all!”

Well, they’re also basing it on the precedent of films that are edited for content in other venues–broadcast television, for example, or altered versions of films made for airlines. The idea of having “cleaner” versions of films circulating is not a new one–just the idea of cleaning them up separate from the filmmaker’s approval is (well, sort of–but not really either; movie houses did take it upon themselves to self-censor controversial films in the past).

Your idea has fewer precedents, so fewer “justifications”. Sure, some DVDs are sold with the promise of “unrated” material, but there isn’t much of an established market for people demanding “dirtier” versions of films–particularly dirtier versions that use body doubles instead of the original actors and have dramatically inferior production values in the “dirtier” scenes.

Theoretically, your argument is sound in comparing the two ideas, but there would be almost no real-life demand for your versions, so why bother?

But legally, those situations are quite different. A TV station that broadcasts a movie has already obtained the rights to broadcast it, and the terms of that contract presumably don’t require them to broadcast it from start to finish without edits or interruptions.

A company that buys a truckload of DVDs planning to edit them, however, only has the same legal rights as any other consumer: to watch the DVDs for their own enjoyment, or to resell them. They have not obtained the rights to distribute any copies or derivative works, which is what the edited version would be. They could argue fair use, but the degree to which it impacts the market for the original work is only one of the considerations for a finding of fair use, and this particular infringement doesn’t fare too well on the others.