Imagine What This Would Do to the Southpark Movie…

April 27, 2005 at 7:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

President Bush today signed legislation legalizing technologies that enable users to skip or mute sections of DVDs. Most often these technologies are targeted to parents who want to control what their children watch.

Hollywood and other media companies opposed the legislation because they argue that the government is enabling companies to distribute technologies that violate Hollywood’s copyrights. That would be a fair charge if anybody were actually altering the content (and especially if they were distributing the altered content, which is illegal). But that isn’t happening. The content isn’t being altered at all. The technology enables users to automatically skip certain sections of movies. It’s no different than if a reader were to skip a couple pages in a book or a track on a CD—except in this case it’s automated, and the skipped portions are very carefully selected.

Although this legislation is driven by an ideology of censorship, the outcome is more consumer freedom. That’s a good thing. And it’s typical that Hollywood would oppose it.

(As an aside, I got a kick out of the URL for this article. The URL includes the phrase “bush_sanitizing_hollywood”. That’s beautiful. It sounds just like what an [impartial and objective!] AP editor would title this piece.)

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The Comments

Mr. T April 28, 2005 at 4:52pm

Hollywood, or more specifically the MPAA, has to take a hardline stance on this issue. ANY unauthorized changes to their product would infringe on their proprietary rights. I agree with and am all about consumer rights and choices, but the problem with this legislation is that it can basically screw up the free market model. If there is enough demand from consumers for a version of

Mr. Wilson April 28, 2005 at 9:50pm

ANY unauthorized changes to their product would infringe on their proprietary rights.

Perhaps, but nobody has actually changed anybody else’s product. The “Disneyfication” companies aren’t selling a modified product, they are selling an entirely separate product. An “add-on,” if you will. Do you mean to imply that iPod accessories should be illegal?

Once the product is in the consumer’s hands, he can do whatever the hell he wants to it. (Note that I didn’t say “with it.” The matter becomes more complicated when you consider what a consumer can do with the product—such as duplicating or redistributing it.) He certainly doesn’t have to watch the movie straight through just because that’s what the director wanted. He doesn’t like a scene in the movie? He can skip it. He wants to watch a titty scene again and again and again? He can back up the movie and watch to his heart’s content. He wants to write “Property of Bubba” on the DVD with a black marker? He can do that, too. He can eve put his DVD in the microwave and watch the cool light show.

And if the consumer wants to purchase a filter that automates the process of skipping and/or muting certain scenes or portions thereof, he can do that as well.

Your concept of the “free market model” is screwed up. The free market model is precisely the reason why these filtering products should be allowed on the market. Consumers are expressing a demand. Current suppliers are not meeting the demand, so new suppliers create a submarket that extends, rather than competes with, the existing market. Consumers get what they want, the current suppliers retain 100% of their market (or even expand their market), and the new suppliers happily sell their wares in their newly created market. How in the world is the supply side “getting shafted”? The supply side is growing!

You go on: If consumers could just edit down violent/sexual movies into typical Disney fare, this discourages creators from making Disney type movies to begin with.

Umm, yeah. So what? That’s the market model at work, big guy. What if you had said: If consumers could just add their own Spanish language soundtrack on top of the existing soundtrack, that would just encourage creators to build a Spanish language soundtrack onto the DVD by default. That’s the market model at work, right? How is it any different from your Disney example?

<em>All in all this seems like another Joe Liebermanesque play on

Mr. T April 28, 2005 at 10:48pm

Boooo, hissssss, booooo. So basically, you are arguing that you can develop and market a service to edit out violent or sexual scenes of a movie? Ouch! So much for the proprietary rights of the artist. If you edited down

Mr. Wilson April 28, 2005 at 11:23pm

<em>Whoever developed this filter isn

Mr. T April 29, 2005 at 12:59am

Au contraire mon frere! You are hung up with focusing on consumer choice and not considering the proprietary rights of the artist. Of course a consumer can fast forward a DVD movie anyway he sees fit! That is not the issue here, so none of your hypos are on point. The issue is the infringement on the artist

Mr. Wilson April 29, 2005 at 3:26am

But does Mel get paid? No. But the developer of the service does.

Either you are drunk, or you aren’t listening.

The answer to your question is Yes! Mel does get paid. Where are you getting this idea that he doesn’t? The consumer buys the DVD ($20 for Mel) and the filter ($5 for the filter company). Without the filter service, either the consumer doesn’t buy the DVD ($0 for Mel, $0 for the filter company), or buys it despite the violence ($20 for Mel, $0 for the filter company).

At what point in that equation is Mel ever harmed by the availability of filters on the market? The filter turns the likelihood of Mel selling his DVD from 50% to 100%. How could Mel possibly not like that equation?

<em>And that

Mr. T April 29, 2005 at 4:35am

Au contraire mon ami! Kudos on your argument so far…but here is where your argument falls down. You say:

“The answer to your question is Yes! Mel does get paid. Where are you getting this idea that he doesn

Mr. Wilson April 29, 2005 at 5:00am

I really don’t understand your point of view. It’s wrong for any company to ever add value to another individual’s work, and to make a profit off of that added value? That is truly, truly bizarre.

Do you remember the Game Genie? The original version (I believe) was a Nintendo Entertainment System modification that allowed you to access all sorts of cheats and hacks for pretty much any game available. At first companies put up a fuss akin to the fuss you and Hollywood are putting up. “Our games weren’t meant to be modified in these ways!” they hollered. Then they realized that not only did the Game Genie not hurt their bottom line, it actually increased players’ use of the companies’ products.

This situation is virtually identical. Not only is Mel not losing any of his audience, his audience actually becomes larger thanks to these filtering products.

Its a question of Mel NOT making up to $25 for a G-rated derivative version of the movie that he made and paid for that OTHERS are cashing in on.

I still don’t understand your thinking here. Nobody is selling a “derivative version of the movie.” The movie itself is not being modified. Mel’s movie is 100% intact. Copyright questions, creative rights issues, all that stuff is moot.

Plus, your math is really screwed up. You say Mel is “NOT making up to $25”? What the hell are you talking about? He made his $20. The $5 wasn’t his to begin with because he didn’t put that extra $5 worth of value into his product. Why should Mel get the $5? Mel can still make his own G-rated version if he wants to. If the market demands it and his creative conscience allows it, he may do just that. I doubt it, though.

The scenario you conveniently neglect, however, is that in which the consumer buys the original Passion DVD for $20 AS WELL AS the $5 filter for the SOLE purpose of watching a derivative version of it minus the gore. And yes, there is a lucrative market out there for people who only want to consume G-rated versions of R-rated movies.

Dude. You are so unbelievably out of it. I’m not neglecting that scenario. I’M TALKING ABOUT THAT EXACT SCENARIO. What scenario did you think I was talking about? The “lucrative market” you mention is exactly the market that these filter companies are trying to serve. You and Hollywood, however, would rather they go *bleep* themselves. (Filtered for your protection.)

Besides, I find this whole conversation laughably ironic considering the disucssions we had when you were first thinking about buying a DVD burner. Mr. T a protector of copyrights? Har!

Mr. Wilson April 29, 2005 at 2:35pm

On a related note, what’s your take on the V Chip? The V Chip seems, to me, to be strikingly similar in both purpose and result to the types of products we’re discussing here. I assume you’re anti-V Chip?

Mr. T April 29, 2005 at 5:50pm

Uh, getting a little excited are we Mr. Silly?

OK I just read the original article you posted. Hollywood wants a chunk of the $ from this Clearplay outfit because they are making $ from consumers who are watching a derivative version of an original movie. And yes, contrary to whatever bizarre logic you are relying on, the filtered movie IS a derivative product of the original movie. LOL. Why can

Mr. Wilson April 29, 2005 at 6:16pm

<em>And I noticed that your double post was done at 6:35 AM this morning. That means you must have gotten up straight from bed, and headed straight for your computer so you could double post. I hope in your double-posting excitement that you didn

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