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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-13-04 08:53 PM
Original message
Wal mart sells dvd player that blocks bad words; pay more $ for more title
From an e-mail I got.

Two observations:

1. Wal-mart sells smut movies and a player that boycotts smut... odd.

2. The player supports 100 movies. Additional support costs $4.95 per movie :wow: or $49/yr for unlimited updates. :wow: :wow: Gee, they haven't made technology that reads the disc, interactively looks at the waveform to determine if it the word is "penis" or "arse farcie" and then bleep it out? :eyes:

Wal-Mart Sells Anti-Smut DVD Player
Tue Apr 13, 4:29 AM ET Add Movies - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Chris Marlowe

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Wal-Mart is selling the world's first DVD
player that can seamlessly skip over violence, swearing, nudity and other
potentially offensive movie content. The $79 unit features technology by
ClearPlay and is manufactured by Thomson Inc. under its RCA brand.

The product comes in the wake of the Super Bowl halftime controversy as well
as the FCC (news - web sites) fining Clear Channel for indecent content on
"The Howard Stern Show." But ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho said the timing is

"It's just fortunate," he said. "There is a lot of interest and sensitivity
around the topic of potentially offensive media content."

RCA's player is the latest development in a legal battle between the Salt
Lake City-based software company and Hollywood. Steven Spielberg (news),
Martin Scorsese (news), Steven Soderbergh (news) and other members of the
Directors Guild of America (DGA) filed suit against ClearPlay in September
2002, when the filtering product was available as a computer program.

Those legal proceedings are still under way in Colorado's 10th District
Court. Both sides currently are waiting for a ruling on a summary judgment
filed by ClearPlay.

The DGA, for its part, is sticking to its guns.

"ClearPlay software edits movies to conform to ClearPlay's vision of a movie
instead of letting audiences see, and judge for themselves, what writers
wrote, what actors said and what directors envisioned," a DGA spokesman said
in a statement Monday. "Ultimately, it is a violation of law and just wrong
to profit from selling software that changes the intent of movies you didn't
create and don't own."

The Motion Picture Assn. of America, which lobbies on behalf of most of
Hollywood's major studios, declined to comment directly regarding Wal-Mart's
decision to sell the players but spokesman Matt Grossman did say, "our
position is that we are wholeheartedly against any individual or enterprise
that alters our studios' copyrighted material."

Consumers can play any DVD in these units in the usual manner. In addition,
however, they can activate a variety of different filtering levels that work
according to ClearPlay's preprograming. The player filtering works only on
selected titles; it has no effect on movies that it has not been
preprogramed to handle, but for those it doesn't recognize, it has the
capability to completely block movies based on their rating.

The sophisticated process is rather like very smoothly fast-forwarding and
muting the original movie as it plays back. The DVD remains unchanged and
unharmed. Aho said that is an essential distinction between ClearPlay and
fellow defendants named in the pending suit, because others provide
consumers with a copy of a physically edited DVD or VHS movie.

According to Aho, the studios' allegations imply that consumers "are
violating copyright law when they use ClearPlay to mute and skip the
playback of movies on DVDs that they have lawfully bought or rented."

He believes the industry's objections are lessening now that Hollywood has
had a chance to evaluate what ClearPlay actually does.

"There is a natural reaction when faced with a new technology to make sure
that it's managed, that your industry is protected and that the application
is good for both consumers and the industry," Aho said. "It's clear that
there is a much better understanding of ClearPlay as opposed to companies
that make copies of the movies. I think the industry is more aware of the
distinction now, and there's a search for how to make it work for them."

ClearPlay offers several settings in four categories of filtering --
violence, language, sex/nudity and explicit drug use -- with the user able
to choose any combination. For example, the language setting can range from
irreligious exclamations to ethnic slurs to graphic phrases used as

Aho said the product is important, because standards differ from one person
to another. Some people have no objection to innuendo, he said, but shield
their children from seeing violence. He added that it's consumer choice, not

Demonstrating a low violence setting, Aho showed a scene from "The Patriot."
The viewer sees a soldier firing a rifle at an enemy followed by Mel Gibson
(news)'s character turning away in dismay: ClearPlay eliminates the close-up
of the bullet's impact and blood spurting from the wound.

Aho said ClearPlay tries to program popular movies that contain elements
people might be uncomfortable seeing or allowing their children to see.
"About a Boy," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," "When Harry Met Sally,"
"Zoolander," "As Good as It Gets" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse
of the Black Pearl" are among the movies with available filters.

He added that ClearPlay will not offer titles that cannot be edited in a way
that retains their sensibility, such as "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's
List" or "The Passion of the Christ."

Thomson did not return calls by press time. But Aho said none of ClearPlay's
partners were worried about the pending lawsuit. "We have had so many big
public companies look at it and decide to proceed," he said. "Some have
decided to wait it out, but none of them have declined to work with us
because of the legal risk."

Each RCA unit comes with 100 filters. Additional filters can be purchased
from ClearPlay's Web site for $4.95 per month or $49 per year. Movies more
than 90 days old are less expensive at $20 for as many filters as the
customer wants during a three-year period. Once a filter is installed it is
permanently in the player.

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