CleanFlicks Now Claiming It Can Edit DVDs For 'Educational' Purposes

from the try-that-again dept

Last summer, a judge ruled against CleanFlicks and some other companies that were "editing" completed movies for sale in certain areas. The issue was that the companies were generally selling these edited movies into highly religious communities -- and they were editing out scenes or words that might offend. While systems that would do this for you automatically in your home are considered legal, the actual service of "cleaning" a DVD is not. This isn't a money question, but an artistic one. The companies in question were buying legitimate copies of the movies and making the edited version and selling both copies together. No one was losing money from this -- and, it can be argued that moviemakers were actually making more money thanks to this service. However, many directors and studios objected to the idea that anyone else should get to make derivative works -- and the court agreed. The latest news, however, is that CleanFlicks and others are back at it, claiming that the "educational" fair use exception is a loophole they can use to keep making these videos. The details aren't at all clear from the AP article on the topic, but unless these videos are being exclusively sold and shown in schools, it seems like they're going to have a tough time supporting educational fair use. If anything, the fact that they searched out a (potentially weak) loophole to do the same thing they were told to stop doing seems likely to just piss off the judge.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 11:56am

    Hmm... I predict an increase in Home-schooling.

     

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  2.  
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    Dam, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 12:25pm

    The Airlines Do It

    US air carriers have been screening edited movies for years. Most movies meet the standards of network television, so there's little profanity and no real nudity. These are done under agreement with the studios; one must wonder why CleanFlicks didn't do the same thing.

    Actually, with most movies today, when you edit out the crap, you get the intro and the credits and not much else.

     

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    Home-Schooled, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 12:30pm

    I predict an increase in ignorance.

     

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    all4won, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 12:42pm

    Re: The Airlines Do It

    What a poignant Indictment of movies today.

     

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    Witty Nickname, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 12:45pm

    After seeing some not-quite right interpretations of the law by lurkers in this forum and others, I, not a lawyer, decided to read the US code regarding Educational Fair Use and come back in here and say something brilliant.

    Here is the code - I read it.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000110----000-.html

    Anyone wanna try to sound brilliant?

     

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  6.  
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    Charles Griswold, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 12:59pm

    Re:

    After seeing some not-quite right interpretations of the law by lurkers in this forum and others, I, not a lawyer, decided to read the US code regarding Educational Fair Use and come back in here and say something brilliant.

    Here is the code - I read it.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000110----000-.html

    Anyone wanna try to sound brilliant?

    Gah! I think my brain just melted.

     

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  7.  
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    Chris, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:12pm

    My rant, worth reposting.

    Apparently it's been perfectly fine (up until now) for someone to make an illegal copy of a DVD, edit it, and then MARKET it so long as it's done so with a business license. I can only imagine that the edited DVDs are actual purchased movies. However it would require someone to rip a DVD, then burn it to another DVD to take out all offensive content. This in itself is legal, a person can purchase a media item, and duplicate it for their own uses. So if you want to buy The Big Lebowski and take out all the expletives and nudity so your kids can watch this wholesome family flick then you're more than welcome too. Say you want to upload this file to a server, so if you take a family vacation and forget to bring the hard copy, you can just access the file remotely. Yet again something an individual is able to do. However if you let your friend access this copy it's then illegal (File sharing).



    To me this raises two questions, first why was CleanFlicks allowed to sell their copies? And second, why haven't they been compared to any other file sharing infringement? Only answer here, to me, seems to be the fact they had a business license and the government got to tax such activities. Until someone sued these people, went through the bureaucratic loop holes, and got a certified judge to say "NO" it was all fine and dandy (even though preexisting legislation prohibits such activities, and the new found ruling is just affirming current copyright laws). CleanFlicks (individual) legally purchased a movie, and then made a copy of this movie (legal). They then took this copy and rented (shared) it to an individual (illegal). For the sake of argument we'll consider the movie cost $25. Then CleanFlicks rented this movie to an individual for $5. If the single copy was rented more than 5 times CleanFlicks has now made a profit from illegal activities. The only heat they catch for this is they're no longer able to operate their business by turning a profit form illegal activities. However if Joe Schmo (individual) legally purchases a movie, then they make a copy of this movie (legal), and uploads it to a server it would appear any authoritative force out there wants to label this individual as a criminal. Regardless of whether or not this uploaded file was used in any other fashion then what it was legally intended for, the pure action of having created a legal duplicate seems to be viewed as illegal in the eyes of said authorities. But if Joe got a business license, and started to market his copies to individuals and make a business out of it it would be fine, right? NOOOOOOOO. So why has been it been fine for CleanFlicks to do so, and why aren't they receiving harsher punishments for doing the same thing thousands of individuals are getting fined for by the RIAA or MPAA?



    The only difference in the comparison between CleanFlicks and Joe is that CleanFlicks was making money from selling illegal copies while Joe just let someone have something. If you care to make the argument that CleanFlicks just rented illegal content as opposed to Joe having given away illegal content, then you make the move to say that illegal content is perfectly fine to manufacture and turn a profit from, so long as your customers' can't own your product. Current laws, however, don't agree with this methodology. They specifically state that media can only be copied for use by an individual, and any form or sharing this duplicate is illegal without consent from the originating owner of said media (i.e. Comedy Central airing HBO footage). It would seem that in order for justice to truly be served in this case, an immediate cease and desist and hefty fine would need to be imposed unto CleanFlicks.



    However, I guess it's the case that the people who uploaded files (such as mp3's) aren't charged, but the end-user who receives the file gets the charges. So to the poor kid who got charged $300,000 for downloading 15,000 songs it would only be justly fair to impose a hefty fine on anyone who happened to rent a movie from CleanFlicks. Consider the kid didn't know it was wrong of him to download the file through a 3rd-party agent such as Kazaa, ignorance doesn't get him off. So to anyone who rented a movie from CleanFlicks ignorance shouldn't protect them either. IF you disagree, that it should be CleanFlicks that should receive the fines and not their customers, then anyone using a file sharing program shouldn't receive a fine either, but instead the actual file sharing program creator. This isn't the case however, and hasn't ever been otherwise. So in order for this case of media sharing infringements to coincide with all the previous cases before it, fine CleanFlick customers, because they're the ones at fault according to all previous rulings regarding the matter of sharing illegal media.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:15pm

    On one hand they're reputedly buying a copy for each one they sell so they're not cutting out the publishers, but on the other they're most definitely profiting from unauthorized copies.

    I think derivative works are supposed to ADD something in order to be called derivative works.

    But at the root of things these religious groups should just grow up.

    Violence, sex and swearing are a part of reality, even their kids will have to face them all eventually, all they do by sheltering their children is make such things MORE exciting.

    I mean more than half the world's population has breasts! OMG, what will we ever do?

     

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  9.  
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    Firemonkey, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:21pm

    Re:

    Notwithstanding the opinions expressed or implied in this blog, the following statement is not a denial of my genius:
    (1) Performance or display of said genius in a peer-to-peer exchange of ideas, unless, in the case of exhibition of alleged genius, and said third-party expresses no valid reason to refute the genius of the poster;
    (2) except with respect to a work created out of malice and/or ill conceived idealism that is given the means to deny expressions from the genius, by or in the course of posting genius-rich content, if-
    (A) the performance or post of said genius is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of a forum moderator or participant as an integral part of a forum discussion session offered as a regular part of the systematic mediated time-killing activities of a self-governed body or a nonaccredited for-profit internet media entity (heretofore known as TECHDIRT);
    (B) the transmission of alleged genius is made solely for, and, to the extent technologically feasible, the reception of such genius is limited to official and/or unofficial use, and;
    (i) forum readers officially engaged in the discussion in which the genius is manifest; or
    (ii) moderators of forum host bodies as a part of their official duties or employment; and
    (iii) all parties involved in aforementioned genious-like activiy and/or posting consur on validity of posters genius as a bona fide entity unto itself to which all sebsequent forum posters must lay down the boogie for, or;
    (iv) does not engage in conduct that could reasonably be expected to interfere with technologically genius measures used by forum moderators to prevent such retention or unauthorized further dissemination of previously mentioned genius.

    Am I smart yet? 'Cuz my head hurts...

    -FireMonkey

     

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  10.  
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    Jamie, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

    I guess I still don't get the issue

    I still don't understand why anyone should be able to tell CleanFlicks what it can do with the copies it bought. If CleanFlicks owns the DVD, why should the creator be able to tell CleanFlicks what it can do with the DVD? Sure, it's not what the creator wanted done with his work, but once the creator sold it, he shouldn't have any right to tell the new owner what he can and can't do with it.
    If I buy a print of a famous painting, take it home and scribble all over it in crayon, I should have the right to sell that scribbled copy to anyone I want. It's mine, I bought it and I can do whatever I want with it. The artist who painted it originally shouldn't have the right to keep me from selling it, burning it, or giving it away.

    Personally I wouldn't buy an edited copy of a DVD from CleanFlicks. But I don't see why they shouldn't be able to sell them.

     

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    TheDock22, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    And exactly WHERE in that garbage you so quickly pointed to does it state you can edit a movie so it is okay to show it in a school?

    All I read was that as long as the movie is not a pirated copy (Section 106, subsection 1) then a teacher can show it to the students as part of classroom instruction. All of the rest of these provision seem to exclude schools from copyright infringement when they put on productions, plays, and such. In fact section 106 specifically refers to copyright infringement exclusions for non-profits and schools which is also what the educational fair use exception is for. None of these provisions allow directing editing of said material.

    I, not a lawyer
    I agree, so stop pretending to be one.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    CleanFlicks was never breaking the law.
    They may have been ruining perfectly good movies just like TBS does on a nightly basis but they were well within the law to do so assuming they obtained distribution licensing. The issue lies in distribution, you can buy a painting, draw on it and sell it for more - if you bought every original painting before you drew on it (which it appears they did). That they are pandering to special interests who should not be watching the movies in the first place is a separate issue entirely.

    People curse and use profanity, there is topless and outright nudity in strip clubs, blood pours when limbs are severed, people have sex, women have breasts with nipples.. if ultra conservatives and religious fundamentalists want to pretend this isn't true they have the right to do that too, why they would want to is another story. ;)

     

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  13.  
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    Witty Nickname, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    1. Not garbage, US Code. If you think it is garbage make fun of your congressman, not me.

    2. I never tried to interprit it. I just said here it is, I read the whole thing, and I didn't understand a word of it.

    3. I see you are interpretting it, I ignore your interpretation - I assume if you cant understand my 3 sentance post, that you probably didn't understand the law either.

     

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  14.  
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    Hannah, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 1:53pm

    Everybody likes to bash the fundamentalist Christians for their interest in buying 'sanitized' versions of Hollywood movies, but religious Jews also have a desire to watch movies with their children that aren't patently offensive. My two sons are fascinated with cars, but the muscle car and car show video producers feel the need to splice in video clips of half-naked women. These scenes have nothing to do with the cars, but are gratuitously edited into the documentaries. I would gladly pay a higher price to be able to buy a DVD that had the dreck edited out. We're not asking Hollywood to create products just for us, but certainly we should have the right to be able to buy edited versios of movies from a third-party company.

     

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  15.  
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    Hermes, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 2:02pm

    CleanFlicks was illegal. DMCA says that you can not circumvent a DVD protection system no matter what do you plan to do with it. Whether it's for archiving purposes or resseling it's illegal.

     

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  16.  
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    kbj, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 2:18pm

    Re: My rant, worth reposting.

    They weren't selling the copies alone, when you bought a movie you got both the original retail DVD and the edited DVD. In other words they purchased the DVD just like you would, edited it for you and then gave you both. You could do the same thing yourself and it would be legal. If you have someone else edit your purchased movie for you, it violates copyright law.
    They did not rent movies they had not purchased one for one (and they didn't rent out the originals).
    For example; they bought 5 DVDs and made 5 edited DVDs. They rented 5 edited DVDs at a time and the originals were never rented or sold.
    The only difference between Blockbuster and CLeanflicks was the editing. Blockbuster rents only the number of original DVDs they own, so did Cleanflicks. Blockbuster only sells original DVDs, so did Cleanflicks. Cleanflicks included in the purchase of the original DVD, an edited copy.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Hannah

    Another opportunity to discuss the world with your children and educate them about it lost due to the fact that you're afraid of them. Sigh.

     

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  18.  
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    Overcast, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 2:39pm

    Television Networks do the exact same thing to make room for commercials..

    I guess, as usual, it's a double standard that allows that?

    Oh well, I think the people buying movies from them are willing to buy the edited version, but not the full version - as, obviously; there's a demand for that.

    So Hollywood can go on and make whatever, I have to agree with the above - it's just more sales of paying customers they are cutting out.

     

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  19.  
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    Hannah, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Hannah

    And you think that your society has done a good job of raising its children by exposing them at a very young age to adult images and subjects?

     

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  20.  
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    zcat, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 2:48pm

    Perhaps they could just sell 'editing instructions

    If it's legal (or at least less questionable) for home users to do the same editing job, perhaps cleanflicks could take that route instead;


    1) End user buys the original DVD and an editing file from cleanflicks.

    2) End user rips the DVD to VOB's using freely available software.

    3) End user runs an automated editing program from cleanflicks with a script bought from cleanflicks that strips out the objectionable parts of the movie.

    4) End user burns their own clean DVD using freely available software.

     

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  21.  
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    TheDock22, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 3:00pm

    Re:

    Then why post a link to something that you do not understand? To prove your incompetence?

    You never said in your original post that you didn't understand it, simply that you read it.

    Beside, why be defensive I misunderstood your post? If that small section of US code can be misinterpreted than so can your "3 sentence" post. No need to attack me to prove you can not comprehend the US law, but we all pretty much assumed that.

    Anyway, my point is that the law CleanFlicks is trying to hide behind makes no mention of editing videos and then redistributing them. I think the courts were right; CleanFlicks is cutting out what they feel is unclean and then reselling the content, which is very illegal.

    Beside, if they take away the job of censoring content, what will the FCC do?

     

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  22.  
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    TheDock22, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hannah

    As long as you were involved in your child's life it would not matter what society does. You would let your children know if they see a half-naked woman on television that it is inappropriate and demeaning towards women.

    Beside, if you want edited movies so badly, edit them yourselves. As long as you don't resell those it is perfectly legitimate. Quit relying on the law to do your job as a parent.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hannah

    (getting off topic)
    Unless the car show is in vegas the women are clothed (albeit scantily); are you afraid to take your kids to the beach as well?
    How can you consider bikini clad women or even outright nudity offence? I suppose there is the argument 'objectifying women', but those models are paid to be there - that is their job.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re:

    I, not a lawyer
    I agree, so stop pretending to be one.
    He isn't.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:41pm

    Re: My rant, worth reposting.

    Apparently it's been perfectly fine (up until now) for someone to make an illegal copy of a DVD, edit it, and then MARKET it so long as it's done so with a business license. I can only imagine that the edited DVDs are actual purchased movies. However it would require someone to rip a DVD, then burn it to another DVD to take out all offensive content. This in itself is legal, a person can purchase a media item, and duplicate it for their own uses.
    Generally speaking, in the US anyway, it's been illegal to even duplicate a DVD for one's own private use due to the CSS encryption and the DMCA.

    So why has been it been fine for CleanFlicks to do so, and why aren't they receiving harsher punishments for doing the same thing thousands of individuals are getting fined for by the RIAA or MPAA?
    That's the US legal system works. Corporations are never treated as sternly as individuals are. Corporations are the governments own creation, artificial life, their own "children" if you will. Natural persons are like "step children" by comparison and get treated accordingly.

     

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  26.  
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    PopeRatzo, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:46pm

    Re: I guess I still don't get the issue

    You might say that Cleanflicks can do whatever they want with the copies of the movies they bought, including edit them and resell them.

    However, they are selling the re-edited version using the title of the original. For example, if I buy a Picasso, make a copy, scribble all over it and resell it, I cannot sell it as a Picasso. That seems to be what Cleanflicks is doing.

    They buy a copy of George Lucas' Star Wars, make a copy, edit the copy, then sell the package as George Lucas' Star Wars, family version. Unh-unh. It sounds wrong to me.

    I can't buy a CD by the Beatles, remix it and edit the songs and sell the new creating as a Beatles album.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:51pm

    Re: I guess I still don't get the issue

    I still don't understand why anyone should be able to tell CleanFlicks what it can do with the copies it bought. If CleanFlicks owns the DVD, why should the creator be able to tell CleanFlicks what it can do with the DVD?
    CleanFlicks only bought the disc, not the copyright to the movie. If they bought the copyright they could do with it as they please.

    If I buy a print of a famous painting, take it home and scribble all over it in crayon, I should have the right to sell that scribbled copy to anyone I want. It's mine, I bought it and I can do whatever I want with it.
    As I understand it, you would be infringing the copyright if you did that. The FBI might even come after you.

    The artist who painted it originally shouldn't have the right to keep me from selling it, burning it, or giving it away.
    The artist might not could keep you from selling it or giving it away (unless it came with a license that prohibited that) due to the "right of first sale" principle. But modifying it is a different story.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Re: My rant, worth reposting.

    However, there were many companies doing this same thing. Most of them did not sell the original with the copy. originally, clean flix would mearly ask "do you already own a copy?' and if so, would then just sell the copy.
    The biggest issue I see is that a company is calling its illegal file sharing activities "for a good purpose" then expecting everyone to back down because it was religious and "moral" in nature. What they refused to do was negotiate with the studios to have the studios sell an approved edited "original' dvd. These companies are worse then the file sharers because they were actually profiting off the pirated copies, and then justifing it on the basis of religion and morality.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: I guess I still don't get the issue

    For example, if I buy a Picasso, make a copy, scribble all over it and resell it, I cannot sell it as a Picasso.
    If the painting is under copyright you aren't allowed to do any of that, no matter what you call it.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Re: I guess I still don't get the issue

    They can resell it as a 'Picasso' as long as the end user is aware they are buying an altered copy and not the unmodified original. You can assume anyone paying their marked up rates and going out of their way to purchase from CleanFlicks would be aware it was altered. Similar in fashion to the 'this film has been formatted to fit your television' (widescreen->fullscreen pan&scans) or 'this film has been edited for time constraints', the CleanFlicks dvds could have an additional intro 'this film has been edited for content'.

    Illegal - 'selling original unmodified Picasso, you buy it you buy it'
    Legal - 'selling modified Picasso'

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 4:59pm

    Re:

    The issue lies in distribution, you can buy a painting, draw on it and sell it for more - if you bought every original painting before you drew on it (which it appears they did).
    Nope. You would be violating the derivative clause of copyright law unless you own the copyright or have a license from the copyright holder allowing you to create derivative works.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: I guess I still don't get the issue

    They can resell it as a 'Picasso' as long as the end user is aware they are buying an altered copy and not the unmodified original.
    You're confusing copyright and trademark law. They're different.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hannah

    are you afraid to take your kids to the beach as well?
    Who says he's "afraid"? Maybe that's just his choice.

    How can you consider bikini clad women or even outright nudity offence?
    One could ask, how could you not be offended?

    those models are paid to be there - that is their job.
    Something doesn't stop being offensive to someone just because someone else is paid for it. That's silly.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Perhaps they could just sell 'editing instruct

    2) End user rips the DVD to VOB's using freely available software.
    End user just committed a crime in the US.

     

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  35.  
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    Extreme Centrist, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 6:00pm

    Re: My rant, worth reposting.

    You are wrong on two counts. It was not worth reposting. It was not even worth posting.

     

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  36.  
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    who cares, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 6:41pm

    File this under "who the hell cares"

     

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  37.  
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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Apr 11th, 2007 @ 6:02am

    Re: My rant, worth reposting.

    Nice rant, and it's just that, a rant. Your logic is fine, I suppose. Your facts, however, are wrong.

    CleanFlicks didn't rent the movies, they essentially took your purchased movie and edited out the bad content.

    The fact of the matter is that this is entirely about the media companies once again strongarming their way to prevent what is perfectly lega (and even lucrative for them) because of their fanatical need to spread filth as far and wide as possible.

    I have to give credit to them: for once it isn't about money. Of course, in Hollywood, the only thing that could trump the love of money is moral depravity.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    Here is the problem:

    Cleanflix buys one copy: it could be the super deluxe directors edition $30 version. It then edits it down. Then they buy hundreds of the cheap $5 version without cut scenes, commentaries... They then sell the $5 version + edited version for $20.

    The movie companies make $2.50 after distribution. Cleanflix makes $15 off of the $30 version where the studios should have made $15.

    Another problem is that the consumers will likely return the undedited version to a different store, resell the unedited version, or give away the unedited version. They then keep the edited version for themselves.

    Cleanflix should probably pay the movie companies 2x for each movie since they are selling 2 copies.

     

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    fakfak, Apr 11th, 2007 @ 2:27pm

    You're a bit confused concept junkie.

    "CleanFlicks didn't rent the movies, they essentially took your purchased movie and edited out the bad content."

    Not true, although there were companies who operated this way, CleanFlicks did not use this model. They did indeed buy then re-edit films to then rent out to members.

    "The fact of the matter is that this is entirely about the media companies once again strongarming their way to prevent what is perfectly lega (and even lucrative for them) because of their fanatical need to spread filth as far and wide as possible."

    Aside from your own "morals" based rant in that paragraph you're again very wrong. Under U.S. copyright law whaty they did was in fact not legal. Whether or not it should be legal is another issue, but at the present time, it's simply not.

    As for the lucrative nature of the editing, that's also a debatable issue. In 2001( I think) , New Line made a deal with one of these editing companies to release "official" edited editions of a hndful of their most popular titles. The project was a commercial failure. If real amounts of money could be made on these edited films, the studios would be much more apt to consider official releases of their catalogs in edited form.

    Personally, I do find certain films offensive, but and this is just my opinion, I simply can't see why anyone would want to watch an edited form of something offensive to them. You're still tacitlly supportiing production of the offensive film, so how is it better then just not watching?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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