There have been arguments over this issue going back almost five years, but we now have a ruling in a case concerning companies that take DVDs and edit them to take out scenes or dialog they find "objectionable." These businesses tended to do quite a lot of business in highly religious areas, "sanitizing" movies for those who wanted to see them. However, a judge has now found the practice to be a violation of copyright. This is slightly different than the companies that built automated DVD players to do the same thing, which were separately protected by Congress. Instead, this is a case where the company took a DVD, circumvented the copy protection, and then made a "cleaned" copy, which they sold alongside the original. It definitely can be seen as a case where the judge may be right on the legal issues, but it doesn't make much sense once you look at the larger picture. Copyright law is designed to prevent someone from undercutting the market for the content -- which clearly isn't the case here. The people buying these movies are unlikely to have bought the movies otherwise. In other words, this expands the market, as each purchase involves purchasing the actual movie as well. Either way, it seems likely that this case will be appealed, so there will be more to come on this.
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