House moves to filter smut

Committee votes 18-9 in favor of the Family Movie Act

This article was updated at 9:35 p.m.

WASHINGTON — New technology that filters sex, violence and smut out of movies is one step closer to securing Congress’ seal of approval.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 18-9 in favor of the Family Movie Act, which would allow companies to manufacture DVD players and other devices with the technology and free one company from a legal battle with the studios over it. Vote fell on partisan lines with only one Democrat, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), voting in favor of the measure.

Bill must now find time on a busy legislative calendar in the House. A similar proposal has yet to be introduced in the Senate.

Studios are dead set against the bill, arguing that it represents direct legislative interference in a private legal matter. They are in legal negotiations to try to settle a suit against Utah-based ClearPlay, which makes and sells DVD players that filter out material by muting dialogue and skipping scenes.

Company and supportive lawmakers argue the technology gives parents more control over what their kids watch; studios and several high-profile directors maintain ClearPlay interferes with the creative and intellectual property rights of the filmmaker.

“Parents need all the help they can get,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who authored the bill. “Parents should be able to mute or skip over anything they want if they feel it’s in the best interests of their children.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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