The Directors Guild has launched its long-awaited legal strike against the companies and stores that rent and sell sanitized versions of Hollywood films.
“What these companies are doing is wrong, plain and simple,” asserted DGA prexy Martha Coolidge. “It is wrong to circumvent the studios, who are the copyright holders, and the director, who is the film’s creator — all in the name of turning a profit. It is unethical, it is shameful, and the DGA will aggressively pursue these claims.”
DGA’s move came in response to the surprise preemptive suit filed last month by Colorado vid retailer CleanFlicks and inventor Robert Huntsman against 16 top directors.
The CleanFlicks suit sought a ruling from the federal court in Denver that the editing practices — which excise sex, violence and foul language — are protected under federal copyright law. The DGA’s filing Friday included a response to the suit plus a pair of counterclaims, asking U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch to take three steps:
- Allow the DGA to intervene in the suit in order to rep the helmers.
- Expand the counterclaim to include other retailers and tech companies involved in selling and editing altered videos and DVDs.
- Allow the DGA to bring in the major Hollywood studios as parties, since the studios are copyright holders.
Motion Picture Assn., chief Jack Valenti issued a statement of support. “The altering of a film by anyone not involved in the creation of that film is to enter a dangerous arena and is a legitimate concern to all Americans who value private property,” said Valenti.
He noted that sanctioning editing for benign reasons would be a “double-edged sword,” since films could also be altered for pornographic reasons. “To allow one, it would seem that you must allow the other,” Valenti added. “That is unacceptable to parents and the public.”
Pete Webb, spokesman for CleanFlicks, said the companies would issue a response today.
The defendants in the CleanFlicks suit are Robert Altman, Michael Apted, Taylor Hackford, Curtis Hanson, Norman Jewison, John Landis, Michael Mann, Phillip Noyce, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese, Brad Silberling, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Betty Thomas and Irwin Winkler.
The DGA seeks to include in its countersuit Video II, Glen Dickman, JWD Management, Trilogy Studios, ClearPlay, MyCleanFlicks, Family Shield Technologies, Clean Cut Cinemas, Family Safe Media, EditMyMovies, Family Flix and Play It Clean Video.
CleanFlicks filed its suit on Aug. 29 after finding a never-issued press release on the DGA Web site about a guild suit against CleanFlicks and the other retailers and companies. The Writers Guild of America West and the Screen Actors Guild subsequently issued statements of support for the DGA.