Sanitized analyzed

House panel to assess censored pic issue

A congressional hearing has been set for Thursday over the issues related to the DGA’s copyright and trademark infringement claims against businesses that traffic in sanitized versions of films with sex, foul language and violence chopped out.

The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property plans to call reps of the Directors Guild, studios and ClearPlay Inc., which supplies software enabling users to select the types of material to be deleted. The DGA has claimed the companies are violating the Lanham Act in that they misrepresent directors’ work by creating new versions of films without authorization.

“Nobody is telling Hollywood what kind of movies to make,” ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho told Daily Variety. “We’re simply providing parents with the tools they want. The Judiciary Committee has expressed an interest in finding a solution.”

Case originated two years ago, when retailer CleanFlicks sued the DGA and 16 leading directors including Steven Soderbergh, Martin Scorsese and DGA prexy Michael Apted to obtain a ruling that its practice of altering films is legal. The DGA filed a countersuit alleging copyright and trademark infringement, and that action was joined in December 2002 by the studios.

ClearPlay filed a countersuit in early 2003, alleging the DGA, directors and studios had overstated their rights under copyright laws. Utah-based company also claims its software doesn’t create altered versions of movies and that studios don’t have the right to control all aspects of how consumers view movies.

No trial date has been set in the case, and several of the defendants in the DGA countersuit, including ClearPlay, have filed for summary judgment.

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