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Hollywood Squashes CleanFlicks
July 31, 2006 3:23 PM   Subscribe

CleanFlicks closes up shop and liquidates as Hollywood wins content-rights battle. Should a rental store have the right to remove offensive material before renting the DVD out to its customers?
posted by JPowers (155 comments total)

 
My heart goes out to the prude wackos.
posted by gottabefunky at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2006


No, they shouldn't have that right. Next question?
posted by xmutex at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2006


Should a rental store have the right to remove offensive material before renting the DVD out to its customers?

Not unless they happen to be the film's actual, no-shit, credited editor.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:32 PM on July 31, 2006


previously discussed here. they can't have that right unless the current copyright law is changed.
posted by karson at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2006


Should a rental store have the right to remove offensive material before renting the DVD out to its customers?

Nope.
posted by bob sarabia at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2006


Damnit, karson.
posted by bob sarabia at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2006


No, they shouldn't, and no, they don't.
posted by odinsdream at 3:39 PM on July 31, 2006


Good riddance to a bunch of fucking pussies.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:40 PM on July 31, 2006


Absolutely not. I'm glad I lived long enough to see those idiots run out of town on a rail.
posted by squidfartz at 3:40 PM on July 31, 2006


JPowers posted "CleanFlicks closes up shop and liquidates as Hollywood wins content-rights battle. Should a rental store have the right to remove offensive material before renting the DVD out to its customers?"

I found JPowers's post offensive, and editted it:
A rental store SHOULD NOT have the right to remove offensive material before renting the DVD out to its customers! THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE! -- signed, JPowers
posted by orthogonality at 3:40 PM on July 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


Um...should a rental store have the right to sell out of what’s already been ruled on as illegal?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2006


/how much you want for that version of the post orthogonality?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:42 PM on July 31, 2006


Should video stores have the option to remove offensive content from films? Absolutely not!!

However, the movie "Titanic" offended me with it's godawful dialogue and poor acting. If all that stuff was edited out, all we'd have would be a big ship hitting an iceberg and sinking

On second thought, could I have that movie edited? But leave me the titties and curse words in other movies!
posted by newfers at 3:45 PM on July 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


"Going out of business. Sale. Hurry while stock lasts". Mmm, yeah, if people were clamoring for their G-word fearing, holier-than-thou content, you wouldn't be going out of business in the first place. Maybe that's why you're going out of business - only moral retentives would want to hire your stock, but they were then put off by your illegal editing. Maybe your reduced prices will make it more palatable for them. Or maybe not. Good luck with the sale and don't forget to lock the kids safely in the cellar tonight in case they see something approaching a real life existence.
posted by TheDonF at 3:48 PM on July 31, 2006


So you guys are against "mash-ups" and the like also, right?
posted by keswick at 3:53 PM on July 31, 2006


I always wanted to run a Richard Pryor standup DVD through Cleanflicks just to create a weird kind of art.
posted by jonmc at 3:53 PM on July 31, 2006


I'd argue, as I did in the other thread, that anyone (seller, viewer, whomever) should be able to remove or add whatever they like, as long as they clearly let people know what they're getting (or not getting), nobody's forced to choose that version, and the creator of the orginal work gets their due.

Most other philosophies look too much like the desire to control the experiences of other people.
posted by weston at 3:54 PM on July 31, 2006


posted by keswick So you guys are against "mash-ups" and the like also, right?

Where'd you see mashups being sold for profit?
posted by fandango_matt at 3:55 PM on July 31, 2006


So you guys are against "mash-ups" and the like also, right?

There is no similarity between this and mash-ups on any level. Nice try.
posted by squidfartz at 3:56 PM on July 31, 2006


I was really hoping this would get loopholed through somehow so I could start a business selling movies with dirtier parts stuck in them.

..Ah well, another million dollars down the drain.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:57 PM on July 31, 2006


So you guys are against "mash-ups" and the like also, right?

Nope. Nobody's selling or renting mashups and nobody's marketing them under the original titles with the original credits.

Whole 'nuther animal.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:58 PM on July 31, 2006


squidfartz: how do you figure?
posted by keswick at 3:58 PM on July 31, 2006


There is no similarity between this and mash-ups on any level. Nice try.

What?

I mean, I realize there are some differences, but I can't figure how the statement that there's no similarity could possibly be true. In both cases, people take content they didn't produce, alter it, and redistribute it. That's a pretty strong similarity.
posted by weston at 4:02 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Last month, I met a middle-aged woman who asked me, "Do you think there is much of a market for 'edited movies'?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
Her: "Well, I mean, movies with the objectionable stuff removed. Edited to remove swearing, crude comments, gratuitous violence and such."
Me: [Insert generic, diplomatic yet blue-in-the-face rant from a media communications student trying to explain the idea of meddling with the artistic integrity of a piece of work, of trying to see truth and beauty in ugliness, of censorship problems, of training kids to expect a sanitized version of reality, and of simple copyright issues.]
Her: ...
Her: Right. So, do you think there's much of a market for "edited movies"? My husband and I are thinking about starting a business that does this.
posted by Milkman Dan at 4:07 PM on July 31, 2006


Weston: It's a pretty weak similarity. Different media, different forms of alteration, and different methods of distribution. Mashups and 'cleaned' movies are as similar as apples and beach sand, because in both cases, they are roundish objects found on earth that can be held in the hand.

From a legal standpoint, there are important differences, too. In Canada, at least, anyone can record a cover tune or sample a song by paying a license fee, without the permission of the owner. This is not true for movies; you can't legally shoot a currently-copyrighted screenplay without the owner's permission. This is not to say that mashups made without permission are legal (they may be, and may not be; I don't know), but some countries look at audio and video differently in their laws.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:08 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Should a rental store have the right to remove offensive material before renting the DVD out to its customers?

"The Artist does not create for himself, he creates for the people, and it shall be seen that the people are called forth to judge his art."
-Adolf Hitler
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:08 PM on July 31, 2006


Mashups for profit? Girl Talk's Nightripper is a great album you can buy.

But this is different than a mashup. This is trying to sanitize a work of art, not create a new one. This is like Ashcroft wanting to cover up the knockers of Lady Justice [link to marble boobies, perhaps NSFW].
posted by yeti at 4:10 PM on July 31, 2006


I'd pay money for a copy of The Phantom Edit w.

Jar-Jar was definitely an objectionable element in ST:I
posted by adamrice at 4:11 PM on July 31, 2006


more like "this bad because its done by people i don't like while mash-ups are done by urbane hipsters like myself."
posted by keswick at 4:12 PM on July 31, 2006


I would totally pay for a 30 minute edited version of The Day After Tomorrow where they cut out the stupid plot and just left in the destruction porn of cities getting trashed.
posted by cmonkey at 4:13 PM on July 31, 2006


Am I alone in not seeing a problem with this? I mean, they took great care to include the actual, uncut version along with the edited version (G*d help the family that accidentally inserted the unedited disc of "The Hills Have Eyes" during their family viewing night), so the copyright holders received the same amount of money as they would for a regular rental.

I would have thought the film makers would be happy they received the proceeds from that outlet, but apparently not, or am I misunderstanding the process somehow?
posted by Durhey at 4:17 PM on July 31, 2006


I'd say mashups fall under the "transformative" portion of Fair Use of US copyright law. I'd say there'd need to be some 'artistic merit/value' to the work and I don't reckon CleanFlicks is anywhere near this definition.

CleanFlicks produced "derivative" works. So no go.
posted by basicchannel at 4:19 PM on July 31, 2006


Weston: It's a pretty weak similarity. Different media, different forms of alteration, and different methods of distribution.

(1) The actual differences, which I acknowledged, don't mitigate the similarities I mentioned, which seem pretty much ironclad. Certainly not enough to place them as far apart as apples and beach sand analogically. Apples and oranges, maybe.

(2) Some of differences you mention seem weaker to me than the similarities. Why would the principles that govern who can alter a work and why they can alter it differ by medium? Why would the law protect one type of alteration bover another? And if CleanFlicks decided to distribute their versions over the net for free, wouldn't that even be *more* problematic, seeing as how the content creators wouldn't be getting their due from the derivative work.

This is like Ashcroft wanting to cover up the knockers of Lady Justice

Which, like banning movie alteration, has the problem that it attempts to control how others experience a given work.

(Now, if Ashcroft had wanted a duplicate of Lady Justice with a nice marble bodice on for his house, I wouldn't have a problem with that...)
posted by weston at 4:20 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Have you seen (or heard) any mash-ups? "Artistic merit" is not a phrase that leaps to mind.
posted by keswick at 4:20 PM on July 31, 2006


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use.

That said, most mash-ups aren't legal (as far as I know).
posted by basicchannel at 4:20 PM on July 31, 2006


Keswick: Do you stand outside, shirtless, yelling at the kids to get off your lawn?
posted by basicchannel at 4:22 PM on July 31, 2006


If so, can we get a marble bodice for him?
posted by Zozo at 4:24 PM on July 31, 2006


solid-one-love: we can do that in the U.S. too, it's called compulsory licensing; codified at 17 U.S.C. § 115.

Different media, different forms of alteration, and different methods of distribution. Mashups and 'cleaned' movies are as similar as apples and beach sand, because in both cases, they are roundish objects found on earth that can be held in the hand.


not quite. the preparation of derivative works is one of the exclusive rights held by copyright owners. do you own the original copyright that went into the mash-up? then it's probably illegal, unless it falls into the exception of fair use -- and that's an real easy to fall out of (unless you're in education or the news).
posted by karson at 4:25 PM on July 31, 2006


no. make your own crappy movie.
posted by Busithoth at 4:27 PM on July 31, 2006


Mash-ups and this sort of thing are coming from entirely different places.

Mash-ups are, as near as I can tell, about doing something fun and at least a little bit creative by placing things against each other for some desired effect.

Cleaning up movies is about prudishness and/or a lack of self-discipline to not watch movies whose content you find objectionable, or to watch them away from the kids.

A big difference is that even if both should be in some way or in some circumstances (in particular, the editing system that uses other data to create an edited version in real-time), one is harmless playfulness and the other is contemptible bowdlerization that nobody should engage in.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:30 PM on July 31, 2006


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

If you read the actual ruling, it says that the edited versions aren't creative works, which means they're legally distinct from mashups and also aren't covered by fair use.
posted by cillit bang at 4:31 PM on July 31, 2006


I wonder if they would be upset if I went and edited their content and resold it without permission. Perhaps i'll edit the stuff out of the bible i find offensive.
posted by MrLint at 4:33 PM on July 31, 2006


Ergo derivative and not transformative?
posted by basicchannel at 4:34 PM on July 31, 2006


What if they replaced all the objectionable speech and scenes with (or "mashed-up" if you will) quotes and scenes from, say, The Sound of Music, would it be fair use then? Or is it only the intent of the editing that matters?
posted by Durhey at 4:37 PM on July 31, 2006


Do you stand outside, shirtless, yelling at the kids to get off your lawn?

That's an excellent description of the content creator's position. ;)
posted by weston at 4:38 PM on July 31, 2006


Heh.. I'd like to see CleanFlicks' version of Full Metal Jacket.
posted by c13 at 4:42 PM on July 31, 2006


I'm just wondering how, given the court's decision, they can legally have a liquidation sale.
posted by boaz at 4:43 PM on July 31, 2006


I think most of these problems would go away if the studios allowed the sale of movies that were already edited for TV, or for airplanes. The technology is there for mutiple ratings on DVDs, etc. I think the whole CleanFlicks issue shows that there are people willing to pay money for that, it might not be a huge segment of the population, but I imagine it's profitable, or people wouldn't be doing it.

Also, devices that blank the screen and edit content dynamically WHILE you're watching a movie are still 100% legal, and achieve the same effect. I guess we just prefer our editing to be done by machines and not by people.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:45 PM on July 31, 2006


posted by Durhey What if they replaced all the objectionable speech and scenes with (or "mashed-up" if you will) quotes and scenes from, say, The Sound of Music, would it be fair use then? Or is it only the intent of the editing that matters?

I believe it's the profits derived from the sale of the edited works. If I remember (American) copyright law correctly: Let's say I make a movie. I own the copyright to that movie. Now, if CleanFlicks comes along and takes my movie--the movie to which they do not own the copyright--edits it and resells it with their label, they're profiting from my original work without consulting me.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:46 PM on July 31, 2006


Durhey: that's brilliant. In fact, I'm going to begin work on a Ginsberg-Rodgers-Hammerstein mashup right away.

The only question is what to do first: replace bits of Maria with stuff from Howl, or take out parts from Holy Soul Jelly Roll and replace them with lines from Do-Re-Mi?
posted by weston at 4:51 PM on July 31, 2006


Do you stand outside, shirtless, yelling at the kids to get off your lawn?

Shit, did I leave the webcam on again?
posted by keswick at 4:54 PM on July 31, 2006


Anyone should have the right to edit what they own... period.

As much as I hate the reason they were editing, I still support their right to do what they want with their property.

They were *renting* not selling... this is the crucial point... they were editing movies that they owned. I don't think they were renting illegal copies. The company was not trying to pass the films off as unedited, so I really don't see the problem.

I will always support freedom and fair use... even for a bunch of bible-belt "morans".
posted by LoopSouth at 4:54 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


I am sorry, it looks like they were also selling the edits.
It would still be legal if they had purchased and destroyed an original for each edit sold... but who knows if they did or would.
posted by LoopSouth at 4:56 PM on July 31, 2006


most of these problems would go away if the studios allowed the sale of movies that were already edited for TV, or for airplanes. The technology is there for mutiple ratings on DVDs, etc. I think the whole CleanFlicks issue shows that there are people willing to pay money for that, it might not be a huge segment of the population, but I imagine it's profitable, or people wouldn't be doing it.

I agree 100%. Whether or not you like or dislike the religious folks that use CleanFlicks, they routed around the damage and created their own mashups to sell to each other, going out of their way to try and be legal (buying one copy of the original for every edited version). It was never quite legal though and that caught up with them.

This entire problem could be solved if Hollywood sold the TV/airplane edits just like you can buy explicit and radio versions of most top 40 CDs. I don't know why Hollywood doesn't want to make some extra money doing this, so these CleanFlicks people stepped in to fill a void.

I like mashups, I like fair use, I like derivative works and transformative ones, whether they're used to create new songs I'd like or turn great movies into sanitized shit. People should be able to mash anything into anything in their own home and we should figure out a way for people to build businesses around that mashing, as long as original contributors get paid for their original work.
posted by mathowie at 4:58 PM on July 31, 2006


Now, if CleanFlicks comes along and takes my movie--the movie to which they do not own the copyright--edits it and resells it with their label, they're profiting from my original work without consulting me.

But my point is that, though were not apparently consulting the original creators, they were following the protocol for renting movies that any other rental service does, with the exception that they included their edited verion, in addition to the original movie.

So, if they did this with your work, you'd be profiting from it just as much as from a regular rental. In fact, you'd be profiting from a market you may not normally reach, odd as they may be, so they're generating more revenue for the people who put them out of business.

From the third link:

"The official-release disc is included alongside the edited copy in every sale or rental transaction conducted. As such, the companies argued that they had the right on First Amendment and fair-use grounds to offer consumers the alternative of an edited version for private viewing, so long as they maintained that "one to one" ratio to ensure that copyright holders got their due from the transactions."
posted by Durhey at 5:02 PM on July 31, 2006


Perhaps i'll edit the stuff out of the bible i find offensive.

You mean like this?
posted by djeo at 5:09 PM on July 31, 2006


I should say that I'm primarily worried about what precedent this ruling sets for mash-ups and other "derivative" works. Like this for example, which is essentially the same thing as Cleanflicks (or the exact opposite, I suppose).

I also agree with mathowie and Loopsouth. I love recycled content often far more than the original, like Fensler Film's works, MST3K, 2ManyDJs, etc.
posted by Durhey at 5:09 PM on July 31, 2006


posted by LoopSouth They were *renting* not selling... this is the crucial point... they were editing movies that they owned. I don't think they were renting illegal copies. The company was not trying to pass the films off as unedited, so I really don't see the problem.

But that's just it: CleanFlicks owned a copy of the movie, but they do not own the right to edit it and make profits from it.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:11 PM on July 31, 2006


How is this really any different from tv networks editing for content?

Will the networks have to show the films unedited now?
posted by nyxxxx at 5:15 PM on July 31, 2006


I suspect about 90% of the joy shown above in Cleanflick's demise is based on the disdain and suspicion most Mefites have for the religious right. Certainly there are significant differences between what Cleanflicks was doing and the hugely popular phenomenon of mashups, but the similarities are concrete and I cannot, with any intellectual honesty, deny that.

I have zero use for a service like Cleanflicks, and find the whole idea fairly ridiculous - but that is my opinion and is valid for me and me alone. If my neighbor/coworker/mail carrier/Uncle Bob is truly offended by certain language and - gasp! - naked skin - then they surely have the right to fast forward past such obscenities, no? Why then should they not be able to avail themselves of a service that does that for them - when they are actually renting or purchasing the original disk. Cleanflicks has sold them the movie, exactly the same as Blockbuster or Hollywood Video or Mom 'n' Pop's Video Extravaganza would. Where is the filmmaker losing out? Cleanflicks was just adding an additional service in editing the movie to the purchasers request.
posted by John Smallberries at 5:18 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


LoopSouth: They did purchase an original for each one sold. See facts of the case in the opinion [fixed the link]. Read the first paragraph on page 4.

It's still illegal -- I shouldn't have mentioned derivative works earlier, because the edits they did do not meet the originality required to obtain copyright. Therefore, they were distributing edited copies which, you guessed it, violates one of the exclusive rights (meaning only Hollywood can exercise them) given by copyright.

I still support their right to do what they want with their property.

The thing is, it's not their property. While they own the DVD substrate, and can re-sell that original DVD under the first sale doctrine -- they absolutely cannot make a copy of the actual movie, edit it, and then send it out. The movie is owned by Hollywood -- copying and distributing someone else's IP is still illegal.
posted by karson at 5:18 PM on July 31, 2006


When looking at the 'going out of business sale' one of the movies happens to be The Libertine?

How do you edit sex and alcohol out of a movie about sex and alcohol?
posted by gregschoen at 5:22 PM on July 31, 2006


How is this really any different from tv networks editing for content?

Will the networks have to show the films unedited now?


If I don't miss my guess, TV edits are sanctioned by the directors in most instances.
posted by gregschoen at 5:23 PM on July 31, 2006


Jeez... I leave the thread for a minute and this is what happens.

keswick, to answer your question... "how do you figure?"
Oh, that's simple -rationally.

Nice try at flamebait but I won't bite.

I think it's funny that you are equating the activity of a fundamentalist-based business organization with the creative efforts of people who combine images and audio... but, whatever. You are wrong and your side of the line must be really lonely.
posted by squidfartz at 5:23 PM on July 31, 2006


The DVD standard provides for parental control levels inherent to the way that the sequences are coded. It also provides for interactive camera positioning by the viewer (selection from up to eight prerecorded cameras.)

But most movies have not been authored to use these capabilities. The filmmaker should provide this ability if they choose to.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:24 PM on July 31, 2006


oh noes all teh popular kids are on the other side what will i doo?!??!?!11
posted by keswick at 5:31 PM on July 31, 2006


How is this really any different from tv networks editing for content?

Studios and creators are usually involved in the editing process for other mass markets so they can stay to the intent of the creation instead of trusting Hobo Joe in his Bible Shack to "fix" things the way the Good Lord would want it to be.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 5:31 PM on July 31, 2006


Anybody got a Cleanflicks login/pw (previous customers only, alas), so we can send them "thanks for the memories and now GO GET FUCKED" emails?
posted by gottabefunky at 5:33 PM on July 31, 2006


I tend to disagree with this. If there was impeccable artistic vision in the movie industry, I might have an issue with it. But they already edit movies for airplanes and a variety of versions for various TV channels so I don't see a compelling case for 'oh my god, they're messing with my vision!!111!one1!'

And given that they were keeping original copies with the edited copies, it's not like they were messing with the profit model, either.

I'd be interested to know, if this didn't involve actually editing the movies, but say providing a special player that could be programmed to skip certain scenes, would people be okay with that? They wouldn't be messing with the original disc, at all. They wouldn't be copying the original disc. They'd just be providing some key code that said 'skip frames X, Y-Z and 347'. Would that be okay?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:34 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


"I will always support freedom and fair use... even for a bunch of bible-belt "morans"." Everyone picks on the Irish.
posted by QuietDesperation at 5:37 PM on July 31, 2006


Hmmm... I'm new to MeFi -is keswick the resident asshole? I haven't been here long enough to know.

keswick, I haven't seen you post a single thing in defense of these people. Put your money where your mouth is and share your side of the argument or otherwise leave the rest of us alone... we've got room to discuss this -do you?

Is keswick inidicative of the best MeFi has to offer for irrational, contrary posts -or should I brace for another loser?
posted by squidfartz at 5:46 PM on July 31, 2006


I wonder if they sold a scrubbed version of Cinema Paradiso?
posted by sidereal at 5:50 PM on July 31, 2006


Metafilter: trusting the web to Hobo Joe in his Bible Shack to "fix" things
posted by blue_beetle at 5:51 PM on July 31, 2006


say what you will, but at least i don't call myself "squidfartz."
posted by keswick at 5:52 PM on July 31, 2006


posted by jacquilynne I tend to disagree with this. If there was impeccable artistic vision in the movie industry, I might have an issue with it. But they already edit movies for airplanes and a variety of versions for various TV channels so I don't see a compelling case for 'oh my god, they're messing with my vision!!111!one1!'

And given that they were keeping original copies with the edited copies, it's not like they were messing with the profit model, either.


It doesn't matter. They were profiting by selling/renting their edits of the original work without the consent of the holder of the copyright.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:54 PM on July 31, 2006


Oooooooooooooh, I get it. The people who know better just ignore keswick. Okay.

I got it, I'm gone.

Hahahahahahahaha.
posted by squidfartz at 5:54 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Is it legal for the rental store to rent the original movie with a cheat sheet that tells you when to hit mute? Or maybe which chapters on the DVD to skip? How about if they sit beside you while you watch the movie and hold their hands over your eyes during certain scenes?

I still don't understand why the copyright holder gets bent out of shape over this.
posted by tomplus2 at 5:55 PM on July 31, 2006


So for us morans that think CleanFlicks is great, (even though I personally wouldn't use it), would it be alright if I bought a DVD from Amazon and paid someone $5 to edit out the naughty bits? Or along the same lines, does anyone object to me editing out the commercials from TV shows I record? They were obviously part of the creators vision. In fact, I guess I'm not allowed to skip all the previews at the begining of movies (esp. on DVD) because the studio feels they are essential to my viewing experience.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:56 PM on July 31, 2006


Mashups and edited videos are both derivative works which, depending on the character of the work, are copyright infringement. It doesn't matter the difference between "fundamentalist-based business organizations" and "people who combine images and audio." Like it or not, that's the way the cookie crumbles. If you appropriate an image or an audio clip from some source, you run a risk if you do not have permission from the publisher. The fact that most publishers do not go after mashups does not change the fact that they could if they ever saw a legal or monitary reason why they should.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:59 PM on July 31, 2006


Now I won't be able to talk about contemporary cinema with my Mormon parents. Bummer.
posted by Crotalus at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2006


posted by tomplus2 Is it legal for the rental store to rent the original movie with a cheat sheet that tells you when to hit mute?

Probably.

IOr maybe which chapters on the DVD to skip?

Probably okay, too.

How about if they sit beside you while you watch the movie and hold their hands over your eyes during certain scenes?

As long as you're both consenting adults, whatever happens between you and the video store clerk is your own sweet business.

I still don't understand why the copyright holder gets bent out of shape over this.

Because the owner of the copyright is the one who:
1. decides what should and should not be edited from his or her work and then resold as a "sanitized" version(s).
2. having authorized such editing, is entitled to a profit from the sales of said "sanitized" version(s).

posted by blue_beetle So for us morans that think CleanFlicks is great, (even though I personally wouldn't use it), would it be alright if I bought a DVD from Amazon and paid someone $5 to edit out the naughty bits?

That probably depends on what you plan to do with your edited DVD.

Or along the same lines, does anyone object to me editing out the commercials from TV shows I record? They were obviously part of the creators vision.

No, those commercials were placed there by the network sponsors. Talk to TiVo.

In fact, I guess I'm not allowed to skip all the previews at the begining of movies (esp. on DVD) because the studio feels they are essential to my viewing experience.

You can skip whatever you feel like skipping. No one's preventing you from watching or not watching a movie. What you cannot do is take a copyrighted work, edit it, and resell it without the express consent of the owner of the copyright, which is what we're discussing.

posted by fandango_matt at 6:15 PM on July 31, 2006


It doesn't matter. They were profiting by selling/renting their edits of the original work without the consent of the holder of the copyright.

That may well be true under copyright law as it's written - that doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It's my understanding that copyright law is supposed to encourage creativity by protecting the monetary value of it for the creators. If this isn't causing the creators to lose money (and if the customers wouldn't have bought/rented the movies in their original version, it's actually causing them to make more money) then it's not interfering with what copyright was meant to protect and should be permitted.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:17 PM on July 31, 2006


fandango_matt: What you cannot do is take a copyrighted work, edit it, and resell it without the express consent of the owner of the copyright, which is what we're discussing.

I don't think you even need to "resell" it. Under copyright law there are two types of damages: statutory and actual. Distributing the edited work for free can leave you liable for satutory damages.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:26 PM on July 31, 2006


Squidfartz writes:
I think it's funny that you are equating the activity of a fundamentalist-based business organization with the creative efforts of people who combine images and audio... but, whatever. You are wrong and your side of the line must be really lonely.

The "wrong" side is only sort of lonely: it's totally devoid of people who call that side wrong.

Why does the fundamentalism define this issue for you? Why is the misappropriation of intellectual property that you prefer -mashups - superior to the misappropriations made by people with whom you disagree? Aren't both misappropriation?

I personally don't have a problem watching unedited versions of movies. But there are a lot of movies I wouldn't watch with my parents when I visit them; maybe an edited version would come in handy then.
posted by bugmuncher at 6:32 PM on July 31, 2006


posted by jacquilynne That may well be true under copyright law as it's written - that doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It's my understanding that copyright law is supposed to encourage creativity by protecting the monetary value of it for the creators. If this isn't causing the creators to lose money (and if the customers wouldn't have bought/rented the movies in their original version, it's actually causing them to make more money) then it's not interfering with what copyright was meant to protect and should be permitted.

That would be true if and only if the creators of the work(s) in question authorized the edits and the subsequent sale of the edited works. In this case, they were not consulted about and did not authorize the edits.

Think of it this way: Let's say I decide to print out a "sanitized" version of MetaFilter, and I decide your comments are too upsetting for my readers. So I go through MetaFilter and edit your comments as I see fit--I change a few words, I remove a few sentences from your posts, I cut your responses down to a few phrases, and in general I make you look like a blathering idiot. Now I go out and sell this edited copy to people, calling it, "Filtered MetaFilter." You've neither been consulted about these edits, nor did you authorize me to make them, yet here I am, editing your copyrighted work and profiting from it.

On preview: KirkJobSluder--yeah, I couldn't remember the details of that off the top of my head. Thanks for the tip.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:38 PM on July 31, 2006


I should point out my above analogy is neither perfect nor without holes and one could certainly argue points regarding satire and fair use, but I think you get my drift.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:42 PM on July 31, 2006


As long as it's clear to your readers that your version is sanitized and edited for their convenience and not actually true to the original, and the original version is still available in all it's usual ways, I don't suppose I care all that much if you remix MetaFilter somewhere else.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:46 PM on July 31, 2006


Right, sure. You may not care, but copyright law exists to protect you and your work in the event that you do.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:52 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


The obvious difference between what CleanFlicks did and what "mash-up" artists do is that content owners got pissed enough to demand that CleanFlicks cut it out, post haste. (Actually, I recall that CleanFlicks filed a pre-emptive lawsuit asking a judge to declare its business plan legal. Stupid move. The studios almost had no choice but to get in the ring to stop that precedent from being set.)

I know that mash-up artists are occasionally served with cease-and-desist notices, but they generally live in peace with the content industry. Remember, there was a big legal kerfuffle about DJ Dangermouse and The Grey Album, and as it turns out Dangermouse parlayed that gig into an actual career.
posted by Joey Bagels at 6:54 PM on July 31, 2006


I'd much rather the prudes amongst us had plentiful access to 'clean' versions of everything and leave or ultraviolent smut alone, thank you very much.
ESHTREE: Everybody should have the right to edit everything.
posted by signal at 6:55 PM on July 31, 2006


But there are a lot of movies I wouldn't watch with my parents when I visit them; maybe an edited version would come in handy then.

Perhaps a board game is more your speed. That, or a frank conversation with your parents before watching the movie about the fact that there will be a scene involving sex, or drugs, or whatever.
posted by odinsdream at 7:07 PM on July 31, 2006


Obviously this isn't legal, for many, many reasons. For one, I'm surprised that nobody has brought up the DMCA and the removal of CSS...

On principle, though, I have to come down with the "assholes" and say that I have absolutely no problem with this. I think it's a little silly, and I certainly wouldn't make use of the service. But if they had a way to edit the movies without creating a new fixed-media copy, I'd be all for it. Much in the same way I'd support anyone that wants to add, remove, enhance, or destroy the pages of a book, and then sell their "creation."

I think the closest analogue to all this is fan translation and subtitling of foreign movies... again, illegal for many, many reasons, but immoral?
posted by cosmonaught at 7:12 PM on July 31, 2006


but say providing a special player

I think that's already available - I don't know if it's from the same company, but I remember reading about a player like that. Users would download files from the Internet and copy them over to the player for movies that they wanted to see - it would skip scenes or mute certain words. That doesn't seem as much fun as the near-profanities they come up with for TV edits, though. ("crotchblocking", "find a stranger in the Alps", etc.)
posted by concrete at 7:20 PM on July 31, 2006


I guess what I'm saying is that, fundamentally, I think this is a problem of technology. As mentioned in the opinion, the Family Movie Act of 2005 specifically makes exemptions for the makers/sellers of software that perform exactly this service (and presumably circumventing CSS) as long as a new copy isn't created.

So, if these shops were instead renting the DVDs along with software that played them back without the offending material, it would be perfectly legal...

Would you all still have a problem with that morally?

On Preview... apparently already available, but not as much fun as "Finding a stranger in the alps."
posted by cosmonaught at 7:25 PM on July 31, 2006


I agree with Joey Bagels here -- the deal with mashups seems to be that the music industry is smart enough to realize that they can increase the popularity of a song/artist -- Linkin Park and Jay-Z won a Grammy for their voluntary mashup (Best Rap/Sung Collaboration). Copyright law is there to protect people who object -- and the music industry has figured out how to turn this to their advantage. The film industry would do well to do the same, but until they do, and no matter how totally lame I think the practice is, CleanFlicks is outta luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:36 PM on July 31, 2006


In ninth grade we read the Grapes of Wrath. My friend's English class read it also, but they skipped over the intercalary chapters, pretty much half the book, leaving only the plot. I still feel it was morally wrong of the English teacher to ignore Steinbeck's intention. I feel the same way about abridged books. What's the point?

[And who would want to read the Decameron without all the naughty priest and nun sex, amirite?]
posted by yeti at 7:37 PM on July 31, 2006


I think it was morally wrong of your friend's teacher, too... but that's because s/he was a teacher, and was doing a piss poor job of it.

I'm not really a fan of abridged versions, either, which is why I don't buy them.

I'm all for people adding value to other people's creations. For me an edited version of a movie isn't value-added, but for some people they obviously were-- before they wouldn't touch the movies with a pole, now they were willing to pay (a premium?) to watch them.

It makes me think of medieval scribes, adding illuminations to manuscripts. Of course the lousy pirates copied the manuscript first...
posted by cosmonaught at 7:50 PM on July 31, 2006


Does this remind anyone of the introduction to "The Princess Bride" (the book, not the movie) where William Golden informs us that he's taken out all of the political satire of Simon Morgenstern's classic novel to include only the fun parts and sword fights? What a great book.

When I listen to, say, Missy Elliot Vs. Nirvana Vs. Some DJ's "Smells Like Get UR Freak On", I am not pretending to listen to Missy Elliot's song "Get UR Freak On" and/or Nirvana's song "Smells Like Teen Spirit", I am listening to a unique mashup combining elements of each [and the year is probably 2001].

When I am watching CleanFlicks' copy, of say, "Santa Sangre", I am not noting that it is a derivative work. I am pretending that this is the movie. When I watch "Blazing Saddles" on WGN, I have to accept that this is the movie "Blazing Saddles", even though the beans scene, with the audio cut, makes absolutely no sense.

I don't really have a problem with CleanFlicks, as they include the original with the edited version, but I'd like to note that I enjoy an edit differently than a mash-up.
posted by elr at 7:56 PM on July 31, 2006


This entire problem could be solved if Hollywood sold the TV/airplane edits just like you can buy explicit and radio versions of most top 40 CDs. I don't know why Hollywood doesn't want to make some extra money doing this, so these CleanFlicks people stepped in to fill a void.

NPR interviewed the owner of CleanFlicks a few weeks back when this ruling first came down, and he said he would have been more than happy if Hollywood had put him out of business by selling edited versions of their films. He seemed a very reasonable, well spoken guy, not the nutjob fundie some here seem to expect he'd be. And frankly, I expect we'll see them doing just that at some point. Wal-Mart would seem a natural outlet for cleaned up DVDs (and I say that without an ounce of snark).
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:01 PM on July 31, 2006


I believe the original is disabled, so it's there as a way to prove that it is indeed a one-to-one copy, not to provide the renters additional options.
posted by cosmonaught at 8:02 PM on July 31, 2006


What do you mean by "disabled" cosmonaught? One cannot affect a DVD in any way, since it's a read-only medium. If the original is included in the box, it will indeed play.
posted by odinsdream at 8:47 PM on July 31, 2006


They don't OWN the films, they are merely purchasing a copy of the data to watch. They can resell that specific instance of that data, but they are violating the DMCA to edit the films (they have to strip out the copy protection in order to edit), and violating copyright laws in selling a modified copy of something they don't own.

Intellectual property is not like chattel.
posted by MythMaker at 8:49 PM on July 31, 2006


Good.
posted by chance at 9:01 PM on July 31, 2006


odinsdream- I'm guessing "disabled" with a hole punch, though I'm really not sure.

MythMaker-- The Family Movie Act actually provides an exception to the DMCA for the purpose of editing for content, providing that it is not then copied to fixed media and that additional material is not added (which I think CleanFlicks probably runs afoul of, by adding bars & blurs).

What I'm talking about is distributing the DVD along with playback software that is programmed to skip and mute offending scenes. As far as I can tell, this would be completely legal, I'm wondering if people find this as offensive with the copyright question removed.

I know we are all such fervent supporters of a strong (perpetual?) copyright... I'd hate for our emotions to cloud the issue.
posted by cosmonaught at 9:08 PM on July 31, 2006


That may well be true under copyright law as it's written - that doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It's my understanding that copyright law is supposed to encourage creativity by protecting the monetary value of it for the creators. If this isn't causing the creators to lose money (and if the customers wouldn't have bought/rented the movies in their original version, it's actually causing them to make more money) then it's not interfering with what copyright was meant to protect and should be permitted.

Copyright is essentially a monopoly on distribution of a work. The principle is that CleanFlicks can't make money on redistribution without negotiating a payment of royalties back to the studio.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:20 PM on July 31, 2006


jacquilynne writes "But they already edit movies for airplanes and a variety of versions for various TV channels"

Are you certain that when this is done it is without explicit permission?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:59 PM on July 31, 2006


I'm wondering if people find this as offensive with the copyright question removed.

I would! I like movies, and don't like seeing them turned into half-movies by lame-brained censors. Same way, I like books, and don't like seeing them get turned into lame imitation half-books by priggish bowdlerizers.

I'll grudgingly admit that stuff like the software that edits on the fly ought to be legal. But anyone who would actually use one is a very silly person indeed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:07 PM on July 31, 2006


odinsdream writes:

Perhaps a board game is more your speed. That, or a frank conversation with your parents before watching the movie about the fact that there will be a scene involving sex, or drugs, or whatever.

It's not so much the sex or the drugs, really. I mean. I've seen bare breasts, naked butts, lovemaking and blood while watching movies with my parents. I'm really more concerned about spoken lines like going "ass to mouth" or sticking "a flute in my pussy."

I think my parents would think an edited Clerks 2 or American Pie might be funny. An edited version - say, for TV, or airplanes, or whatever, would let me share at least some of the humor with them.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:19 PM on July 31, 2006


I seem to recall hearing on many occasions that the videos rented at Blockbuster are often edited to make their content more "family friendly." Is this just an urban myth? If not, wouldn't they be liable for the exact same type of legal action?

I'm actually disappointed by this ruling. I personally wouldn't ever want to watch a censored version of a movie, for much the same reasons people listed above about abridged books. But I think people should be able to view them if they want to, and my skeptical little heart just won't be convinced that the Disney corporation has originality of artistic intent foremost in its mind when it drops the hammer like this.

Moreover, if it were a standard practice to release cleaned up "family" version of movies, maybe film studios would be less milquetoast and conservative about what they allowed to be shot for inclusion in films in the first place (or greenlighted for development, etc).
posted by whir at 10:50 PM on July 31, 2006


Are you certain that when this is done it is without explicit permission?

Not at all. I'd imagine it's done with permission, that's not really my point. I just think that the artistic vision argument is kind of lame given that studios sell out their artistic vision for the TV broadcast fees. Movies are routinely edited for language and content and to still run in 2 hours even with commercials shovelled into them - what these people were doing is not very far removed from that.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:10 PM on July 31, 2006


whir: But I think people should be able to view them if they want to, and my skeptical little heart just won't be convinced that the Disney corporation has originality of artistic intent foremost in its mind when it drops the hammer like this.

Oh, I agree that Disney has artistic intent in their mind. I suspect their thought process is, "someone is making money selling a service using our videos, and is not giving us a cut."

I seem to recall hearing on many occasions that the videos rented at Blockbuster are often edited to make their content more "family friendly." Is this just an urban myth? If not, wouldn't they be liable for the exact same type of legal action?

Not if they license the edited versions from the studio.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:33 PM on July 31, 2006


Or I should say, they are not interested in artistic intent.

Does anyone else remember that Disney took on day care centers arguing that if parents were paying the center, and the center showed Little Mermaid this was an unauthorized commercial performance and Disney should get royalties?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:41 PM on July 31, 2006


To try to get away from the nature of the rental service:

  • Feminist video rental store BlockBustier was sued today for renting Hollywood movies with gratuitously misogynist moments edited out, allowing concerned parents to be comfortable that their daughters were being spared negative depictions of women. The original went out with every rental and the copyright holder got their money.

  • The New York art house video store for people who suffer from fits, Epiclectic, was sued today for renting out copies of movies with flashing that causes seizures edited out. The original went out with every rental and the copyright holder got their money.

  • Videold, a local video rental store for old people, was sued today. They rented out copies of movies with the sound balance edited to make them clearer and easier for people to hear for older people with typical patterns of hearing loss. The original went out with every rental and the copyright holder got their money.

  • Native American video store Renter Of Movies was sued today for renting out movies dubbed into the threatened Madeup language, spoken by only two-hundred people. The original went out with every rental and the copyright holder got their money.


  • I agree with jacquilynne:
    [The ruling may be correct] under copyright law as it's written - that doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It's my understanding that copyright law is supposed to encourage creativity by protecting the monetary value of it for the creators. If this isn't causing the creators to lose money (and if the customers wouldn't have bought/rented the movies in their original version, it's actually causing them to make more money) then it's not interfering with what copyright was meant to protect and should be permitted.
    posted by alasdair at 12:51 AM on August 1, 2006


    NO! These people still have Disney and other G rated films available for their viewing pleasure.
    posted by ArunK at 1:18 AM on August 1, 2006


    Does anyone else remember that Disney took on day care centers arguing that if parents were paying the center, and the center showed Little Mermaid this was an unauthorized commercial performance and Disney should get royalties?

    I can't google that, but I can understand it happening. Recall that usually you have a rights disclaimer at the beginning of a flic saying 'This (casettte/DVD/etc) is licensed for private performance only, yada yada yada..."

    They specifically license the home video market for this "private performance" so that they can go and -- using their copyright -- control the display fo their product say in a theater. Otherwise somebody could rent 'Army of Darkness' for $4, take it to their auditorium, and play it on the big screen, and charge $5 a head. That's the fear anyway.

    When I ran a college student 'flic' service on campus, we had to pay between $200 and $500 to license a single night's of performance of 'flics' -- and we were non profit (no admission fees). A big chunk of the money studios make on exhibition is on the distribution and performance fees, not the ticket prices. The ticket prices are what the theaters used to make back the amount they paid the distributor and the studio to show the flic.
    posted by cavalier at 1:27 AM on August 1, 2006


    (And coming back to the daycare thing, it's petty at first glance until you view the model as they have paying customers. Each child there has had money transacted to be watched. You could argue that the day care was using the "wonderful world of disney"TM to babysit the children, and in a sense, charge money for services that Disney was then providing.)

    Sad but true.

    posted by cavalier at 1:32 AM on August 1, 2006


    Good riddance to a bunch of fucking pussies.
    posted by fandango_matt at 3:40 PM PST on July 31 [+fave] [!]


    CleanFlicks: Good riddance to a bunch of fucking pussies®
    posted by hal9k at 2:23 AM on August 1, 2006


    Clearplay is the company that sells people a special did player and then provides downloadable instructions filters for individual movies.

    This is legal, and just to make sure it's legal, Texas Republican LaMar Smith attached a bill called the Family Movie Act expressly declaring the legality of such technology to the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act that Congress passed in 2005. The new law states that companies that any "manufacturer, licensee, or licensor of technology that enables the making of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture imperceptible" cannot be sued for copyright infringement.

    Hollywood wasn't pleased, but they were far more worried about Cleanflicks and its ilk than Clearplay and knew that Clearplay might already have the law on its side anyway so they didn't complain too much about the new law, which was clearly designed just for Clearplay.
    posted by spira at 4:51 AM on August 1, 2006


    How do you edit sex and alcohol out of a movie about sex and alcohol?

    ....blank disk?
    posted by mephron at 6:21 AM on August 1, 2006


    Why are so many of you people actually supporting more draconian copyright law and the DMCA? These things all limit and remove your rights to fair use. Supporting them in any way, regardless of the fact that *for once* they shut down some right wing outfit, just cements their place in society.

    Any law that makes illegal, the modification of something you *OWN*, shouldn't be supported in any way.

    These people included the original disc with each edit! Nobody lost a sale here. The studios still made their profit. They were not hiding the fact that they were edits.

    By the logic of many of you, I would be breaking the law if I made my own tape mixes from CDs I own, or made a custom playlist in itunes, backed up my software, or even recorded a TV show without commercials... hell, even humming a tune in the shower would be illegal to some of you.

    It is a slippery slope, people... maybe I should repeat this:

    Any law that makes illegal, the modification of something you *OWN*, shouldn't be supported in any way.

    I know sometimes fair use doesn't seem as important compared to the other worldly problems... but these associations - RIAA, MPAA, and their counterparts, will continue to erode your fair use rights until you have none at all.
    posted by LoopSouth at 6:43 AM on August 1, 2006


    It's incredible that the great Mefi masses seem to hate copyright law when it comes to BitTorrent or whatever, but hop right into the sack with it when it comes to this.

    I'm not keen on censorship either, but as far as I'm concerned, people selling modified DVDs is no different from people selling region-free DVD players or modchipped Playstations. It's complete hypocrisy to support the use of copyright law against your enemies, but that's what this comes down to -- it's like reading Slashdot or something.
    posted by reklaw at 7:10 AM on August 1, 2006


    Well, see, here's the thing: there are three issues here: legal, ethical, artistic.

    Legally, clearly, they can't do what they're doing, even if they try to cast themselves as an agent of the buyer (which would probably get them a pass, but also probably couldn't be upheld legally). Now, if what they did was sell customized DVD players, and a *playlist* that edited the movie on-site, that would probably be legal -- if they could get the people who own the commercial rights to the DVD patents to license such a player for mass manufacturing, which also seems unlikely.

    Ethically, as long as they're not selling the movies to people without warning them they're not getting the original which they were not (and Wal-Mart *has*, with music CD's), they're also off the hook.

    The final brick is artistic. Yes, I can understand why directors get all auteur-y about the issue. Their call. But they're only protected by the copyright laws on that point, so far as I know, and if those laws provide enough manuevering room for something like the DVD player idea posited above, then the directors are just up a creek, as far as I can see.

    That is: as long as the letter of the law is complied with, and noone misrepresents, then no, I don't have a problem with this.
    posted by baylink at 7:49 AM on August 1, 2006


    LoopSouth: Why are so many of you people actually supporting more draconian copyright law and the DMCA? These things all limit and remove your rights to fair use. Supporting them in any way, regardless of the fact that *for once* they shut down some right wing outfit, just cements their place in society.

    I think that you are confusing "this is the way the law is" with "this is the law I support."

    I am strongly in favor of some pretty radical reforms to existing copyright law and fair use. That does not mean that I have to buy into the delusion that mashups are some special case. However:

    Any law that makes illegal, the modification of something you *OWN*, shouldn't be supported in any way.

    I agree. However that is completely irrelevant to this case. Your rights to modify and edit something you own end when you start redistributing the derivative work.

    These people included the original disc with each edit! Nobody lost a sale here. The studios still made their profit. They were not hiding the fact that they were edits.

    The fact that the original disc was included with each edit is completly irrelevant. The fact that the studios mad a profit is irrelevant. The visibility of the edits is irrelevant. Distributing a derivative work is a violation of copyright law. This has been the case since before either of us was born.

    By the logic of many of you, I would be breaking the law if I made my own tape mixes from CDs I own, or made a custom playlist in itunes, backed up my software, or even recorded a TV show without commercials... hell, even humming a tune in the shower would be illegal to some of you.

    When you redistribute those tape mixes, you are breaking the law. When you redistribute a copy of your software, you are breaking the law (unless you have permission via an open source license). When you redistribute a copy of the TV show without commercials, you are breaking the law. If you record yourself humming in the shower and sell CDs, you might be breaking a law depending on who authored the tune.

    I know sometimes fair use doesn't seem as important compared to the other worldly problems... but these associations - RIAA, MPAA, and their counterparts, will continue to erode your fair use rights until you have none at all.

    There is nothing about this case that relates to fair use. Fair use automatically does not apply any time you have a commecial enterprise that charges a fee for the creation of a derivative work.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:59 AM on August 1, 2006


    I was tempted to purchase the sanitized Resevoir Dogs as a collector's item of sorts. But I was stopped by the following message:

    Only past or current customers can take part in our Liquidation Sale. If you have forgotten your username and password use the link above.

    Wait, if I buy something from you now, doesn't that make me a current customer?
    posted by Dr-Baa at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2006


    Now, if what they did was sell customized DVD players, and a *playlist* that edited the movie on-site, that would probably be legal

    This is basically what they did, but time-shifted... again I don't see the problem.

    Yes, it is entirely a fair use issue. They sold the license, not the edit... They sold the original copy, the original license, and included the edit with that. They were not selling the edits by themselves.

    These aren't "mashups"... I don't see why that word gets attached to this. A mashup is a distribution of two or more copywrited works combines as one, distributed (as copies) without "license".

    These are one-off edits of single works distributed with the original copy or "license".

    There are plenty of examples in real life where such loopholes also exist and have been used successfully. Even cases outside fair use of media... I mean this stuff is not uncommon... but in this case the media companies have won, yet another, battle against the rights of the consumer. They are trying to make the law inconsistant in their advantage.

    It goes to show you that they will stop at nothing, really, when it comes to trying to protect their precious bit combinations.

    When you redistribute those tape mixes, you are breaking the law.

    What if I am a DJ with a box of vinyl records..? and I am "distributing" by way of compression waves though the air?
    posted by LoopSouth at 8:23 AM on August 1, 2006


    A mashup is a distribution of two or more copywrited works combines as one, distributed (as copies) without "license".

    I should be clear that this is only one defintion... a mashup can be between works that are freely distributed too.
    posted by LoopSouth at 8:28 AM on August 1, 2006


    I think fandango_matt has defended the point adequately, I don’t see much counter argument amounting to more than “but whyyyy?”

    I will comment on this though:
    “Any law that makes illegal, the modification of something you *OWN*, shouldn't be supported in any way.”

    ‘Cause I’m reading that from the other side. I own Led Zepplin IV - the album. I do not OWN the artistic rights to the album. I can control how I want to hear it, I can alter it for my own consumption. I cannot sell it that way however because I only own the album, I don’t OWN the material from which the right to profit from the work are derived, the artistic work itself, and I don’t have the right to resell it that way simply because the technology is convenient to do so.

    This is not anywhere near fair use. What clear flicks does is derivative, not transformative. They are not creating a new work, they are simply repackaging a work to be consumed in a way more palatable to certain people. As has amply been pointed out, this is incredibly dangerous. Art exists to express something you may not want to hear or see. You have the right not to hear it. You have a right to refute it or even incorporate it into your refutation through parody. You do not have - nor should you ever have - the right to change it contrary to the wishes of the artist simply because you do not like the content. That is far more damaging than any nebulous social threat to our personal right to absorb information how we want it. In a free society you have the right to be wrong, you do not have the right to do wrong. You can disagree with me, but change my expression and you subvert my existance to your order.
    That’s far more Orwellian a prospect than this simple percieved knee-jerking over fundies.
    If they were doing it to people at home I’d be on the other side of this equation, but they tried to ban recording cassette tapes and it didn’t get anything but a good laugh all around. There are things to be paranoid over, this isn’t one of them.
    posted by Smedleyman at 8:36 AM on August 1, 2006


    LoopSouth: Yes, it is entirely a fair use issue.

    Once they charged money for the edits (or for the license to the edits) it got kicked out of the domain of fair use. Read the law, read the definition of fair use, come back when you know the basics.

    They sold the license, not the edit... They sold the original copy, the original license, and included the edit with that. They were not selling the edits by themselves.

    Again, completely irrelevant, and I say this as a contractor who does work for hire. I need permission from the copyright holder every time I create even a single copy of a derivative work for a client. Without that copyright release, I can't ship derivative work. No amount of semantic tounge-twisting about shipping the original or "selling the license" chages that.

    Now, we can certainly agree that it might be a good idea to change the law in order be more friendly towards derivative works, but that is a different discussion.

    These are one-off edits of single works distributed with the original copy or "license".

    Again, the fact that this is a one-off is completely irrelvant, the fact that it was distributed with the ogignal copy is completely irrelevant.

    It is a copyright violation to distribute derivative works with a small handful of exceptions. This isn't something that happened last year, or in the last decade. It has been the case for mant decades.

    I mean this stuff is not uncommon... but in this case the media companies have won, yet another, battle against the rights of the consumer. They are trying to make the law inconsistant in their advantage.

    No they have not and no they are not. They are using a consistant application of the law that has been the case since either of us was born. This has nothing to do with the rights of the consumer either.

    What if I am a DJ with a box of vinyl records..? and I am "distributing" by way of compression waves though the air?

    Clubs and private DJs pay fees for public commercial performance.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2006


    And to make it clear, those exceptions involve:
    1: Small clips for commentary
    2: Educational use
    3: Parody and satire
    4: Personal use
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:50 AM on August 1, 2006


    They charged money for the original copy, not the edits... They were just simple resellers in that case... no foul.

    I can control how I want to hear it, I can alter it for my own consumption.

    This is what their customers were doing... they posessed edits for their own consumption to movies they owned.

    Maybe you guys aren't trying hard enough to think about this from an unbiased perspective.

    4: Personal use

    There you go, I am glad we agree.

    Look, I don't think either of us are going to be able to settle on a single interpretation... I am quite confident that either one can be interpreted as correct. Unfortunately there are not as many dollers being spent lobbying the interpretation that favors the consumer.

    You say that "They are using a consistant application of the law that has been the case since either of us was born." but this is not true... there are as many examples of how this is inconsistant... even in other areas of law.

    I say that they are simply reselling the original copy, not the edit... It is a common loophole. For instance, a game machine can dispense tickets that you use to redeem for prizes... in this way it legal and *not* gambling, the machines are only dispensing tickets.

    Customers were buying an original "license" for a particular movie. The edits were one-off and included as extra gift. If the money used to lobby against consumers were used to persuade this type of interpretation, it is very likely that the ruling would have been in reverse.

    My point is that nothing is black and white, and it is short sighted to think so. It is also short sighted to think that big media's interpretation of the law is automatically correct.
    posted by LoopSouth at 9:32 AM on August 1, 2006


    SIGGRAPH 2006/:

    Video `Mash-ups' Open New Front in the War over Digital Copyright
    [Boston Globe | August 1, 2006]
    posted by ericb at 10:03 AM on August 1, 2006


    LoopSouth: They charged money for the original copy, not the edits... They were just simple resellers in that case... no foul.

    All of the news articles I can find on this disagree.

    "CleanFlicks is a distributor that produces copies of Hollywood blockbusters on DVD by burning a scrubbed version onto a blank disc. Those versions are then sold over the Internet and to video stores around the country who offer them for rent." - Salt Lake Tribune

    "CleanFlicks and Family Flix USA are movie distributors that buy DVDs, edit them and burn the revamped version onto a blank disc. Those are then sold over the Internet to video stores such as CleanFilms and Play It Clean Video. They also are sold for use by airlines and network television." -Desert News

    Maybe you guys aren't trying hard enough to think about this from an unbiased perspective.

    *thinks* Nope, you are still wrong.

    I say that they are simply reselling the original copy, not the edit...

    You can also say the sky is pink. That does not make it a valid view of reality.

    My point is that nothing is black and white, and it is short sighted to think so. It is also short sighted to think that big media's interpretation of the law is automatically correct.

    No one has said that big media's interpretation of the law is automatically correct. What is said here is that this is a fairly clear case of the unauthorized creation and sale of a derivative work, and that the commercial nature of these edits put it outside the scope of fair use.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:04 AM on August 1, 2006


    Smedleyman: You do not have - nor should you ever have - the right to change it contrary to the wishes of the artist simply because you do not like the content.

    I think this is really the fundamental point of disagreement here, leaving questions of legality aside. I would agree with this if CleanFlicks was somehow replacing all the available versions of DVDs with their copies, so that the censored ones were the only ones available, but they weren't. People bought the CleanFlicks ones voluntarily and the originals were still available (this is also where the Ashcroft statue-covering analogy breaks down—Ashcroft covered up the one version of the statue that was available for public viewing).
    posted by whir at 10:14 AM on August 1, 2006


    I worked in a video store for about three years back in the 90s, and it was common lore amongst video store staffers that Blockbuster was renting out edited versions of certain films without informing the customers. Reservoir Dogs was the film most-cited, because it was very much a subject of conversation for a while ("you have to see it!"), because it's also incredibly violent, and it didn't fit with the "family" atmosphere Blockbuster was trying to portray for their stores.
    That said, there doesn't seem to have been any kind of court battle over that (and I admit I couldn't find any hard evidence that BB did this)...and Blockbuster is still trudging on. (in the short-term, anyway)

    And whomever brought up mashups: bad argument. Doesn't help you, and it only de-railed the thread far, far too much.

    I'm sort of with Keswick, Loopsouth, Jacquilynne, Alisdair and others, over here on the lonely side of the line, in that I think it's ridiculous to get your panties in a twist when everybody profited, even benefited from ClearFlicks' actions (studios sold another DVD, included with rental; artists got their movie in front of another set of eyeballs that might not have seen it before; children of censorious parents were at least mildly exposed to the great "dangerous" world outside their family's cocoon, possibly leading them to experiment with "radical ideas" and "sinful behaviours", etc.)

    That said, I have no use for their service, except perhaps to see what sort of absurdist masterpiece they might make out of a David Mamet film...
    posted by I, Credulous at 10:22 AM on August 1, 2006


    Your sources are canned newspaper descriptions... You are citing them as fact, when they should not be interpreted as such.

    *thinks* Nope, you are still wrong.

    No, you're wrong!! :)

    I have thought a bit more about this and usually the reason corporations go after an outfit like this, esp. when the legallity is more ambiguous, like in this case, is because they may be planning their own service that is similar. This very well could be just an attempt to strong-arm potential competition out of the market. The fact that the case could have been ruled either way made cleanflicks an easy target. Now that the potential competition has been squashed, the media giants can sell these types of edits for any markup they want... or any venue they want (like what they allow wallmart already with CD audio).

    Legallity aside, cleanflick's distribution was not being regulated by any entity associated with the MPAA... Lets be clear... saying that the reason this was shut down under the guise of protecting the "artist's intent" is just plain foolish. Like they are just going to suddenly start caring about the artist now... *laughs*
    posted by LoopSouth at 10:29 AM on August 1, 2006


    I wonder how much longer this thread can continue with one side yelling "the law is stupid!" and the other side yelling "that's the law and it must be obeyed!" and neither side recognizing that they're having two completely different arguments?

    *phearlez pops some popcorn and finds a comfortable spot to sit, suspecting this may take a while*
    posted by phearlez at 10:42 AM on August 1, 2006


    "Distributing a derivative work is a violation of copyright law. This has been the case since before either of us was born."

    And should be for a "limited term," where that term is between 12-25 years. Not 75 plus the life of the author.
    posted by klangklangston at 10:46 AM on August 1, 2006


    LoopSouth: You are citing them as fact, when they should not be interpreted as such.

    That's the interpretation I have to live with as a person who creates content for hire. I charge a fee for my expertise in creating a one-off work. I need to get permission if that one-off work includes material from other sources. How I justify that fee structure doesn't matter. The act of creating and distributing a derivative work does matter.

    I would certainly like for alternative interpretations to have the force of law. But as a small business owner struggling to pay myself a living wage, I don't have the cash, or pro bono council to ignore the implications of current statutory and case law.

    You rip a DVD, you edit the content, you distribute the edited content, you break the law. It's that simple. Acting as if this is not the case poses substantial issues of liability.

    phearlez: I wonder how much longer this thread can continue with one side yelling "the law is stupid!" and the other side yelling "that's the law and it must be obeyed!" and neither side recognizing that they're having two completely different arguments?

    Well, actually I see a few positions:

    "The law is stupid." I agree with this. My father conducts musical ensembles and the kinds of hoops he has to jump through in order just to play music, in a church, with a potential podcast is nuts. The law is stupid, and it should change. I'm not going to bet my business in the vain hope that the existing courts will change it though.

    "This is is illegal given current law." Yes, what CleanFlicks did is a violation of the current law. There is no reasonable way one can argue otherwise that does not involve excessive and delusional cognitive summersaults. I may not like the law, but as a person who also engages in selling services that may involve the use of other people's content, I can't ignore it.

    "This is legal given current law." This strkes me as a brave and foolish view. I don't see any ambiguity here. Given current case law (Eldridge vs. Ashrcroft), you are going to need an act of Congress to make this legal.

    klangklangston: Thanks, I forgot about the limited term thing. There are other exceptions, none of which apply to CleanFlicks though.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:14 AM on August 1, 2006



    “This is what their customers were doing... they posessed edits for their own consumption to movies they owned. Maybe you guys aren't trying hard enough to think about this from an unbiased perspective.”

    That’s not what they were doing, because they wouldn’t have bought the thing without the edited version. Maybe you’re not getting the difference between transformative work and any derivative work done without a release from the owner.

    “I would agree with this if CleanFlicks was somehow replacing all the available versions of DVDs with their copies, so that the censored ones were the only ones available, but they weren't.”

    This is an edit based from a particular philosophy, not “yours.” A particular point of view which believes that certain words/expressions are wrong.
    There is a difference between modulating one’s personal input and adhering to a philosophy and allowing someone else to filter what you hear and see through it.
    The fact that another version exists is irrelevent. The a priori elimination of exposure to the work based on an ideology is harmful. Period. You’re better off not seeing it if you don’t think you will like it. Examples abound of people misunderstanding or hearing second hand or not at all seeing - yet completely disagreeing with a given expression. “Last Temptation of Christ” comes to mind. But folks do it here as well. This is not disagreement, this is dismissal. And it is aggression.

    In addition, my extension of this idea was to counterpoint the extension of LoopSouth’s idea of personal ownership, not of general viewing.
    One can argue there is no harm done because not all copies have been edited, but then what is the number of non-edited copies acceptable? Is there an acceptable ratio? If we edit all copies of “Last Temptation of Christ” save the one in the Library of Congress is that acceptable?
    (bit facetious here, but you get the gist).

    But it is still harmful for a person to see the clean flicks “Last Temptation of Christ” and go on believing they have seen the movie. They haven’t. And any commentary they might have on it is invalid, much as if they opposed it’s release without seeing it.

    So...I assume you folks on the “lonely side” didn’t mind Ted Turner colorizing “Casablanca” (or aiming at “Citizen Kane”) and enjoy Leone films in Pan and Scan, etc.?

    But that’s philosophy. Legally, certainly there are some problems and there can be compromises reached. You hear “fuck” one time too often, you don’t want mom and dad or your kid to hear it or see boobs, by all means get your copy of the work customed out (or whatever other options). I don’t have sympathy for anyone however who takes it upon themselves to prejudge a work and edit it accordingly much less go and make a profit from that. I’d think that is in fact the originators cut of the business and someone doesn’t have the right to form and profit from that market if the originators of the work don’t want to.
    posted by Smedleyman at 11:37 AM on August 1, 2006


    and neither side recognizing that they're having two completely different arguments?

    For the record, I already did recognise and note this.

    "Look, I don't think either of us are going to be able to settle on a single interpretation..."

    Now back to the show,

    You rip a DVD, you edit the content, you distribute the edited content, you break the law. It's that simple. Acting as if this is not the case poses substantial issues of liability.

    No, it's not that simple... it never is that simple, my friend. They were reselling the original disc, and including the edit along with that... You were buying the original disc. Basically, it is legal to edit it yourself for personal use... The customers were doing exactly this, though a proxy. How can there be a copyright violation when nothing (no license) was being copied?

    If I sell my New Order boxed set, I would include the "best-of" tape I made from favorite tracks in the set. Including my tape as an extra doesn't make it illegal to sell on ebay... (infact, keeping the tape would then be an actual copyright violation... not a fake one... since you know... it would be a copy now.)

    As I said, this was just a strong-arm tactic to prevent this, and any future competition, in this market. I read that cleanflicks marketed themselves to TV networks... this is certainly an area where they were in direct competition with the media giants already...
    posted by LoopSouth at 12:16 PM on August 1, 2006


    "Basically, it is legal to edit it yourself for personal use..."

    I believe this is false in the USA, since you need to break the CSS lock—and violate the DMCA in so doing—to edit a DVD.

    The DMCA is a big, fat, steaming turd of a law, but there it is. I don't think it allows exceptions for personal use (does it?).
    posted by adamrice at 1:45 PM on August 1, 2006


    "The a priori elimination of exposure to the work based on an ideology is harmful. Period. You’re better off not seeing it if you don’t think you will like it. Examples abound of people misunderstanding or hearing second hand or not at all seeing - yet completely disagreeing with a given expression. “Last Temptation of Christ” comes to mind. But folks do it here as well. This is not disagreement, this is dismissal. And it is aggression."

    Bullshit.

    To be perfectly clear with my position, I believe what Cleanflicks is doing is illegal under current law (like mashups), and that it should not be illegal. I believe the ability to create derivative works with minimal hassle is important for the general good of both arts and culture, even derivative works that I disagree with.
    That means that if someone wants to make a mashup, or take every "fuck" out of The Big Lebowski, or add "fuck" into every line of Snow White, they should have the right to so long as they make it clear that they do not have the permission of the original authors.

    I'd be fine with a compromise in which non-commercial use had more rights, or where the penalties were comiserate with the amount of profit made, but a blanket statement that people shouldn't be able to enjoy movies because they're removing parts they don't like is stupid and reactionary.
    posted by klangklangston at 1:48 PM on August 1, 2006


    "So...I assume you folks on the “lonely side” didn’t mind Ted Turner colorizing “Casablanca” (or aiming at “Citizen Kane”) and enjoy Leone films in Pan and Scan, etc.?"

    Not at all, even though I enjoy the originals. That's because I'm an adult and can choose for myself.
    posted by klangklangston at 1:49 PM on August 1, 2006


    LoopSouth: No, it's not that simple...

    Have you actually bothered to read the actual copyright law?

    In almost all cases, the creation and redistribution of a derivative work is a violation of copyright. "Proxies" don't matter. Bundling the derivative work with the original doesn't matter. Cost (or lack thereof) doesn't matter. It is even a violation if they pay you to take it.

    The handful of exceptions to this don't apply to CleanFlicks, and they don't apply to me either. (As much as I would benefit.)
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:27 PM on August 1, 2006


    “Bullshit.”

    Well, that’d be aggression.

    :...add "fuck" into every line of Snow White, they should have the right to so long as they make it clear that they do not have the permission of the original authors.”

    Sure, I’d concede that as long as they weren’t *selling* it without permission.

    “That's because I'm an adult and can choose for myself.” -posted by klangklangston
    I’m really sorry I don’t live up to your definition of an adult there klangklangston. Perhaps if I used words like: Bullshit?
    posted by Smedleyman at 2:52 PM on August 1, 2006


    “I believe the ability to create derivative works with minimal hassle is important for the general good of both arts and culture, even derivative works that I disagree with.”

    I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean. In fact, I don’t think the words you think I mean what they mean, means what you think they mean. A mashup is transformative (for the most part). And adding or removing ‘fuck’ could be as well. But the aim here (netflicks) is not at all transformative, but replication without...
    ...ah, what’s the point.
    Go enjoy a Jeff Koons show. On me.
    posted by Smedleyman at 3:11 PM on August 1, 2006


    (er, cleanflicks)
    posted by Smedleyman at 4:17 PM on August 1, 2006


    I agree that what CleanFlicks was doing was illegal (and that the law is stupid).

    Smedleyman:
    The a priori elimination of exposure to the work based on an ideology is harmful. Period.

    [adding "fuck" to Snow White]: Sure, I’d concede that as long as they weren’t *selling* it without permission.

    I'm not trying to needle you, but I'm having trouble reconciling these two statements. Why is it OK to add "fuck" to Snow White, but not to remove it? Is it only the profit that you object to? What if CleanFlicks were to perform this service for free (which its founder apparently offered to do when Disney called him, according to the NPR interview linked earlier)?
    posted by whir at 4:46 PM on August 1, 2006


    (I see nothing needling, thanks for the consideration though. My apologies if I’m coming off like a 500 lb gorilla)
    One is philosophical. I believe that what they are doing is harmful. Might be legal, might not, but I think it’s stupid - as stupid as, say, protesting “Last Temptation of Christ” without seeing it. As a personal lifestyle choice however one is free to customize however one wants.

    “Why is it OK to add "fuck" to Snow White, but not to remove it? Is it only the profit that you object to? What if CleanFlicks were to perform this service for free”

    Philosophically (mine) it is not ok to add or remove anything based on a pre-existing judgement or expectation of content. It’s ok for me to do it because I then control it for myself. It’s not ok for someone else to do it because why do I trust their judgement over the creators? Again - back to square one - you want the ideology (fuck or no fuck is irrelevent) to filter your content instead of the artist and you don’t want to make personal decisions for yourself. (And you wind up “just knowing” what is pornographic, etc. same reasoning) Harmful. But that’s conceptually. No one *must* be open to new ideas or communication without their personal filter. One can hold the wrong opinion or disbelieve evidence, etc.

    Ownership is a whole other thing. But it’s a further argument against the practice. It is not, IMHO, the prerogative of CleanFlicks to create an industry based on the consumption of a product without the consent of the creators of that product. Nor is it their right to perform a service to deliver a product for free if the creators of that product don’t want to allow that or do it themselves.
    They (Hollywood) have the right to profit or not from that work as they see fit and by contract.
    If I write a poem, and someone edits that poem and starts selling it they are depriving me of the income from those sales. That they cut me in or even deliver to me all the profits doesn’t matter. I don’t want to sell my poem in that form whether there is a demand for it or not.
    Simply because there is a demand for it, does not force me to sell it that way, nor does it mean someone can open a market to meet that demand if I choose not to.
    This is not a common resource in the sense water is, this is my poem, it’s my property and I’ll choose who I want to distribute it and so forth by contract. With no contract to deliver my poem, there is no sale that can take place. That I authorize by contract someone else to deliver my poem however they see fit does not mean anyone else can rewrite it to deliver to meet the demand either (nor does it mean, unless authorized that agent can deliver it in an altered form either).
    Now if someone else takes the poem and says “this is bullshit” and alters it slightly to accentuate a certain meaning that shows a certain foolishness or alters it greatly for some lowbrow entertainment that transforms my work - it is no longer my work, it is a comment on my work and most likely on the subject of my work. And so it is either a new work or a purposeful reflection with commentary.
    Duchamp can get away with propping up a urinal and calling it “Fountain” because he’s commenting on the creative process and art as commodity, the marginalizing of art as physical technique and the emphasis on subjective interpretation. It’s transformative.
    Koons can’t get away with making a sculpture based on a photo taken by another artist despite making the same “I’m commenting on art as commodity” claim because his work was so similar to the original. (This is not to say I despise his work, I’m lukewarm towards it, although I think Duchamp predicts him - calls it an easy way out). This is profiting off the (intellectual) labor of another. Even if the replication is out of pure derision, there is no indicator of that beyond the artist’s word, which is ephemeral. If we can get away with that I’ll repackage “Smedleyman’s The Godfather” and duplicate it and say I’m being sarcastic.

    So the reconciliation in those two statements are that they stem from two different reasons I disagree with the thing. To put it the same argument form in other words way - the opinions of flat earthers and creationists are harmful to hold. Period. But I’m willing to allow them to hold their own opinions, so long as they don’t teach it in public schools.
    posted by Smedleyman at 5:56 PM on August 1, 2006


    "I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean. In fact, I don’t think the words you think I mean what they mean, means what you think they mean. A mashup is transformative (for the most part)."


    "A "derivative work," that is, a work that is based on (or derived from) one or more already existing works, is copyrightable if it includes what the copyright law calls an "original work of authorship." Derivative works, also known as "new versions," include such works as translations, musical arrangements, dramatizations, fictionalizations, art reproductions, and condensations. Any work in which the editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications represent, as a whole, an original work of authorship is a "derivative work" or "new version.""


    Both a mashup and the Cleanflicks are "derivative works."

    "Sure, I’d concede that as long as they weren’t *selling* it without permission."

    Shouldn't matter. Why? Well, Snow White is a derivative work, just one that comes from a public domain source (ignore the semantic quibble over copy versus derivative work), and that's the crux of what I'm getting at: there are no wholly original works, and it's important for the arts that creating new works from old be as easy as possible.

    And while it's noble for you to protect the vision of the artist, the vision can stand or fall in the great marketplace of ideas. There is nothing so sacred as to be uncontestable.

    "It is not, IMHO, the prerogative of CleanFlicks to create an industry based on the consumption of a product without the consent of the creators of that product."

    Why not? Obviously, legally, they can't, but that's not a philosophical argument no matter how many times you present it as such.

    "Nor is it their right to perform a service to deliver a product for free if the creators of that product don’t want to allow that or do it themselves.
    They (Hollywood) have the right to profit or not from that work as they see fit and by contract. "

    Again, legally. But the law is not a justification of morality. And once a creator has put work into the public sphere, the public should have a right to respond to it. (And while I risk coming across as much an extremist as you, I'll note that above I mentioned that I believe that absolute rights, such as the sort that you're cobbling a philosophy out of, should be protected for a limited term).
    posted by klangklangston at 7:49 PM on August 1, 2006


    "Now if someone else takes the poem and says “this is bullshit” and alters it slightly to accentuate a certain meaning that shows a certain foolishness or alters it greatly for some lowbrow entertainment that transforms my work - it is no longer my work, it is a comment on my work and most likely on the subject of my work. And so it is either a new work or a purposeful reflection with commentary.
    Duchamp can get away with propping up a urinal and calling it “Fountain” because he’s commenting on the creative process and art as commodity, the marginalizing of art as physical technique and the emphasis on subjective interpretation. It’s transformative.
    Koons can’t get away with making a sculpture based on a photo taken by another artist despite making the same “I’m commenting on art as commodity” claim because his work was so similar to the original. (This is not to say I despise his work, I’m lukewarm towards it, although I think Duchamp predicts him - calls it an easy way out). This is profiting off the (intellectual) labor of another. Even if the replication is out of pure derision, there is no indicator of that beyond the artist’s word, which is ephemeral. If we can get away with that I’ll repackage “Smedleyman’s The Godfather” and duplicate it and say I’m being sarcastic."

    Bullshit.
    You may be helped if you don't invent new legal terms to suit your convoluted philosophy. See: Sherrie Levine and Walker Evans. Further, I like my philosophical stances to be content-neutral, not predicated on aesthetic judgements where we may differ. Whether or not something is a valid artistic statement is not a position that the law should weigh in on and is not a position that you have any philosophical right to dictate to me.
    posted by klangklangston at 7:53 PM on August 1, 2006


    I liked the CleanFlicks edit of Reservoir Dogs... but is it art?
    posted by cosmonaught at 9:41 PM on August 1, 2006


    Both a mashup and the Cleanflicks are "derivative works."

    Wrong. The Cleanflicks version is not an "original work of authorship" and therefore not a derivative work. The law is actually quite smart about making the distinction.
    posted by cillit bang at 11:41 AM on August 2, 2006


    “"A "derivative work," that is, a work that is based on (or derived from) one or more already existing works, is copyrightable if it includes what the copyright law calls an "original work of authorship." Derivative works, also known as "new versions," include such works as translations, “

    Ok, maybe it doesn’t mean what I think it means.

    “Wrong. The Cleanflicks version is not an "original work of authorship" and therefore not a derivative work.” -posted by cillit bang

    Of course I’m willing to concede that I’m really not getting what the term means at all.


    “ but that's not a philosophical argument no matter how many times you present it as such.” - posted by klangklangston

    Philosophically I think it restricts the scope of thought. To me what they are doing is censorship. That the other person is a willing participant doesn’t matter much to me.
    What you’re referencing in my argument is property rights. To me this equates to say, not building on land. If I own a big chunk of land, just because I don’t develop it, it doesn’t mean someone else can come and do it no matter how badly people need housing.

    “And once a creator has put work into the public sphere, the public should have a right to respond to it.” - posted by klangklangston

    Yeah, I think various degrees of misunderstanding (on either of our parts) are interfering with our basic agreement there.

    “Whether or not something is a valid artistic statement is not a position that the law should weigh in on...” - posted by klangklangston

    I’m not predicating it on an aesthetic judgement. If I exactly replicate another artists work and sign my name to it that’s plagiarism. Even if I say “I’m making a statement” Which would be my point.

    But feel free to keep reading your own interpretation into my arguments and responding to that by saying “bullshit.”

    “You may be helped if you don't invent new legal terms to suit your convoluted philosophy.” - posted by klangklangston

    Cut the dose. This isn’t a courtroom and I’m no lawyer or legal expert. I don’t want to fuck over anyone’s rights and I certainly don’t want to restrict the free flow of communication. Quite the opposite.
    When it comes to property rights, that’s something I like to see respected and reserved for the owners. I’ll grant the intellectual property margin is slim here, but I don’t for a minute believe Cleanflicks was “producing” anything or generating anything at all new. I don’t think it’s going to have any kind of cooling affect on the production of art work and I sure as hell don’t think Cleanflicks is responding to every movie they ‘clean’ by eliminating the language. It was a mechanical production (or reduction) of already produced work taking advantage of a niche market. A market the people producing the films did not want opened. Whatever their reasons, they have a right to do that under certain circumstances.
    And in fact we agree on that: “I mentioned that I believe that absolute rights, such as the sort that you're cobbling a philosophy out of, should be protected for a limited term”
    posted by Smedleyman at 1:25 PM on August 2, 2006


    “such as the sort that you're cobbling a philosophy out of... to suit your convoluted philosophy...etc”

    Yeah, the moral right not to have work altered or destroyed without consent? I made that up. Contractual and individual realization and assertion through property - each legal person having, by virtue of their free activity, the right to possess, and, consequently, also the right to transfer property?
    I came up with that just now.
    Yeah, I’m just cobbling together a convoluted philosopical bullshit argument here, it’s not like it’s grounded in anything or I’ve ever said anything remotely similar to ‘a priori’ or I’ve ever or picked up a book anything. Just pulled it all out of my ass. Yeah, I’m that fucking creative.
    posted by Smedleyman at 2:14 PM on August 2, 2006


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