Monday, April 25, 2005

When you see a movie on TV, are the ads the "dirty parts"?

Orrin Hatch's Spring gift to the movie corporations, bill S. 167, called the "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005", includes some draconian penalties for illegal movie copying. But it also makes it legal to sell DVD players that know how to skip over the naked bodies and sexual intercourse parts of movies. (Or possibly, as Ed Felton has pointed out, to skip over all the other parts instead.)
In fact the wording that allows limited excerpting of movies is very general. Please don't confuse me with a lawyer, but I think congress just made it legal for TiVo and other PVRs to automatically skip over the advertisements while playing back a movie shown on television. If you're curious, take a look at section 202 of the bill, which says in part that it allows: "the making imperceptible ... of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture, during a performance in or transmitted to that household for private home viewing, ... or the creation or provision of a computer program or other technology that enables such making imperceptible ..."

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