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Peter T Chattaway

Cleanflix

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Link to our thread on 'ClearPlay: The Anti-Smut DVD Player'.

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Court Rules Against Sanitizing Films

Sanitizing movies on DVD or VHS tape violates federal copyright laws, and several companies that scrub films must turn over their inventory to Hollywood studios, an appeals judge ruled.

Editing movies to delete objectionable language, sex and violence is an "illegitimate business" that hurts Hollywood studios and directors who own the movie rights, said U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch in a decision released Thursday in Denver. . . .

Matsch ordered the companies named in the suit, including CleanFlicks, Play It Clean Video and CleanFilms, to stop "producing, manufacturing, creating" and renting edited movies. The businesses also must turn over their inventory to the movie studios within five days of the ruling. . . .

Associated Press, July 8

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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:angry: Great! Now I'm gonna have to teach my kids to engage culture instead of sheltering them from it! On top of that it looks like I'm gonna have to do some actual parenting. Sigh. And I had such a great babysitter.

Hmmmmm... :idea: Maybe if I put them in a private Christian school ::approve:: ...

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: What about the DVD player that does it on the fly (without altering the "product")?

Do you remember what the name of that was? I found some online references to a thing called MovieMask, but that website (moviemask.com) is down now, and if you click on Google's cache for it, all you get is a note explaining that the company's out of business. I'm not sure if there were any other companies like this.

I do believe that at least ONE company offered a player that came with separate settings for language, sex and violence, and you could select from something like four or five different levels of censorship in each of these categories. In other words, YOU could decide how to edit the film, more-or-less, instead of just trusting some anonymous bozo's censoring instincts -- and, what's more, you could watch the film without any censorship AT ALL, if you wanted. So you could watch it one way with the kids, then another way with the spouse (and perhaps yet another way by yourself!). I have to admit, I liked the sound of that.

Well, perhaps "liked" is too strong a word. But "appreciated" would certainly be accurate enough. I know I certainly didn't "appreciate" any of these OTHER outfits.

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Here's Mark Moring's commentary on the CleanFlicks ruling: No More Smut Editors?

Aaaaaaaaaand here come the reader responses to it.

It's amazing how quickly people forget that the tables could be turned. Would the outraged readers really have no problem with a company buying Bibles from Zondervan, editing them to taste, then re-selling them? Or maybe I could buy the latest Michael W. Smith album, add in a few choice beats and sexual lyrics to spice things up, and re-sell them myself. MWS meets NWA. I could make a killing...

By the way, I have a slightly different (and not yet completely formed) opinion about the auto-editing dvd player. If I want to have my dvd player skip all the bad words, I tend to think that's my perogative - same as if I want to read Huck Finn and skip all the pronouns.

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: (Are CleanFlix and CleanFlicks the same thing? I'm finding conflicting reports...)

No idea, but a preliminary scan suggests maybe not. The story you link to is about "Daniel D. Thompson" and calls him a "co-owner" of Clean Flix, which is described as "a business in Orem" and a "store" that "closed in December after threats of legal action from Hollywood studios" -- but the CleanFlicks website is still up and running, and gives the organization's mailing address as "P.O. Box 230, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062". Then again, Google Maps indicates Orem and Pleasant Grove are only an 11-minute drive apart, so geography wouldn't be indicative of anything here.

Hmmm. The Associated Press story I quoted a year and a half ago quotes "CleanFlicks chief executive Ray Lines", and this New York Times story from January 2001, summarized here, also quotes Ray Lines and indicates that CleanFlicks is located in both places. So, are they the same company, or are they two different companies occupying the same geographic space and using extremely similar-sounding names?

Aha. If you google "ray lines" and "daniel thompson" together, the top result is this news story from July 2006, which quotes both "CleanFlicks CEO Ray Lines" and "Daniel Thompson, owner of the four CleanFlicks shops in Utah County", the latter of whom is quoted as saying, "I think it's ridiculous that you can't watch a movie without seeing sex, nudity or extreme violence. I don't understand why they're trying to keep that in there." (You don't, huh?) And on THAT occasion, CleanFlicks was one of four companies being sued by the Hollywood studios -- the others of which were called CleanFilms, Family Flix USA and Play It Clean Video.

So, "Clean Flix" would seem to be a mis-spelling of CleanFlicks. Maybe they shut down the store(s) but kept the website going.

Unless, um, the new news story called the guy "Daniel D. Thompson" to distinguish him from the other, regular, "Daniel Thompson".

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You'll notice that the misspelling of "Flix" might be due to the mention of another kind of, um, "Flix" in the same news story (my original source).

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: You'll notice that the misspelling of "Flix" might be due to the mention of another kind of, um, "Flix" in the same news story (my original source).

Yeah, that had occurred to me.

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CleanFlicks Fights Back

CleanFlicks, once popular with Christians and families for its video "sanitizing" service, is working overtime to distance itself from a sex scandal involving a Utah man who apparently claimed he once worked with the company.

On Friday, CleanFlicks filed a federal lawsuit again Daniel Dean Thompson, who was recently arrested for allegedly paying a 14-year-old girl for sex. According to a press release, CleanFlicks is seeking damages for "harming the firm by illegally claiming a business relationship with the firm and infringing its trade name and trademarks." . . .

Christianity Today, February 2

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As I say at my blog, "If this claim is accurate, it is curious that CleanFlicks did not sue Thompson for trademark infringement a few years ago, when he was being quoted alongside CEO Ray Lines as though he were a representative of the company in stories such as this one. It is also kind of funny that a company which has, itself, been sued by the studios for infringing on their properties would now be suing someone else for infringing on its own trademarks."

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And now for the documentary, coming to the Toronto film festival in September:

Cleanflix
Andrew James and Joshua Ligairi, USA

World Premiere

The Mormon religion preaches against the content of R-rated films, so several Utah-based entrepreneurs started offering "clean" versions of Hollywood movies at specialty DVD stores. But the thriving industry runs into legal problems and its own sex scandal.

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Joe Leydon @ Variety:

Documakers Andrew James and Joshua Ligari offer a bit more snark than insight in "Cleanflix," their once-over-lightly account of controversies stirred when a few Utah vidstore operators began to digitally "cleanse" Hollywood fare for a largely (but not exclusively) Mormon clientele. Pic is undeniably amusing when focused on extreme measures by self-appointed censors, but there's only a token effort made to seriously examine central questions: Do filmmakers maintain total and permanent control of their output? Or can someone who purchases a DVD alter its content (or pay to have it altered) for private viewing? Expect moderate fest and tube playoff. . . .

Still, there's no mistaking the disapproving if not jeering tone that prevails throughout "Cleanflix." Time and again, James and Ligari use cartoonish graphics and loud techno-pop music to score easy points, even when a calmer and more balanced approach might have been more appropriate. Tech values are OK, but a better pic is waiting to be made on the subject.

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That's disappointing.

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Studios Sue to Stop 'Family-Friendly' DVD Service

Hollywood is once again going to battle with the puritans.

A coalition of major studios including Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, Disney, Universal and Fox has filed a lawsuit against a defendant who has taken movies, altered them to be free of objectionable content, and is distributing them to consumers as "family-friendly."

The lawsuit was filed on Thurday in Arizona District Court against Family Edited DVDS, Inc. and its leader, John Webster.

The studios claim that the reproduction of the films violates their exclusive copyrights. Further, the plaintiffs allege that the defendant is selling its films in DVD-R format, which they say strips away copyright protection measures and makes them "highly vulnerable to further unauthorized copying and other forms of infringement." . . .

Family Edited DVDs couldn't be reached for comment. Judging by the appearance of their website, the company may have seen this lawsuit coming. It is currently advertising a "liquidation" sale, telling its customers to get edited DVDs while they still can.

Hollywood Reporter, November 15

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Not quite on-topic, but somewhere in the same zone (though apparently without any of the legal hassles) -- oh, and can someone tell me how Alien and Predator "portray families in a positive way"?:

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Schuller cleans up pics for cablers

Who knew a gory sci-fi thriller like "Alien" could be so family friendly?

ComStar Media founder Robert A. Schuller is betting that Christian auds will think so.

The founding pastor of Crystal Cathedral recently negotiated the first-ever rights for G-rated versions of such R-rated films as "Predator," "Braveheart" and Ridley Scott's chest-bursting opus "Alien." Studio-edited versions of assorted R-rated pics, some of which date back to the late 1960s, began airing last month on Schuller's faith-centric AmericanLife TV and FamilyNet Television as part of a block of programming dubbed Family Night TV.

But what remains of a film like the violence-soaked "Predator" after being sanitized to G-rated status? The Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer features such vivid scenes a mercenary skinned and hung out for display.

"There's still a movie there," says Schuller, who runs the Christian media network with his son-in-law, Chris Wyatt. "Some scenes are deleted. Actors already read clean lines back when the film was originally made. All of the CGI can be amended. In the G version, there is no gratuitous violence."

In the case of the vigilante thriller "The Star Chamber," two violent scenes were affected. One was removed altogether and one was made significantly less graphic thanks to alternate footage.

But does Schuller, who is also a bestselling author, see any contradiction between the films' original violence and Christian values?

"Not really. These are still movies that our viewers would respond to," says Schuller of the audience of the two networks, whose reach is some 40 million. "We want to air movies that have a positive message that portray families in a positive way. 'Pulp Fiction' is not a film we would want to air."

Still, not every filmmaker wants to see a squeaky-clean version of their R-rated masterpieces. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron are among a handful of directors who will not allow their films to be modified.

'I don't think there will be a G-rated version of 'Avatar' anytime soon," notes Wyatt.

Variety, December 11

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'I don't think there will be a G-rated version of 'Avatar' anytime soon," notes Wyatt.

Variety, December 11

But half-naked animist aliens are so family-friendly!

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can someone tell me how Alien and Predator "portray families in a positive way"?

Well, it's not like no-one's made the connection, at least http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhmE-f2GKIs. [Warning to the sensitive--rude humor, childbirth humor, etc etc etc. There's a reason I'm not going to embed this. <ahttp://artsandfaith.com/uploads/emoticons/default_wink.png' alt=';)'> Suffice it to say that giving birth is referred to as "the John Hurt part.] Then again, saying that a baby is "an alien lifeform which someday will emerge and destroy our world" isn't exactly positive, so I guess the question still stands.

Edited by NBooth

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Studios Sue to Stop 'Family-Friendly' DVD Service

Hollywood is once again going to battle with the puritans.

A coalition of major studios including Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, Disney, Universal and Fox has filed a lawsuit against a defendant who has taken movies, altered them to be free of objectionable content, and is distributing them to consumers as "family-friendly."

The lawsuit was filed on Thurday in Arizona District Court against Family Edited DVDS, Inc. and its leader, John Webster.

The studios claim that the reproduction of the films violates their exclusive copyrights. Further, the plaintiffs allege that the defendant is selling its films in DVD-R format, which they say strips away copyright protection measures and makes them "highly vulnerable to further unauthorized copying and other forms of infringement." . . .

Family Edited DVDs couldn't be reached for comment. Judging by the appearance of their website, the company may have seen this lawsuit coming. It is currently advertising a "liquidation" sale, telling its customers to get edited DVDs while they still can.

Hollywood Reporter, November 15

Hollywood Studios Kill 'Family-Friendly' DVD Service (Exclusive)

The parties have come to a settlement.

According to the terms of the agreement, Family Edited DVDS has agreed to pay $274,000 to resolve the claim. Per the agreement, a judge has also permanently enjoined the company from further distribution of unauthorized edited versions of its films. . . .

Hollywood Reporter, February 23

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Bizarrely I've been wishing this week that there was a family friendly of O Brother Where Art Thou...

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