April 28, 2005

Cites & Insights May 2005 and Family Movie Act commentary

Walt Crawford's publication Cites & Insights 5:7, May 2005 is out today.

Excellent meaty reading as always. And the announcement gives a good indication of why one would want to read it - covering everything from recent copyright issues to blog ethics. Note I'm mentioned, for e.g. Family Movie Act commentary and blogdom a-list issues

This is the sort of issue where I wonder how far I should go beyond just pointing to it. On the gist of the topics, there's many items where I have disagreements, more than quibbles, but less than full-throated flaming motivation. It's the perennial topic of when one gets quoted in the press but has article has problems.

For example, regarding the section FMA: Watching the Way You Want, Walt has

I agree that it's not a big win--the big win, if there is one, is in *not* getting the really bad provisions that were up for adoption in 2004--but I disagree with [Seth's] characterization. The law does not direct itself to one particular market, and I don't believe it's reasonable to assert that it does. I'm no "narrow-minded control freak," but I might choose to use something like ClearPlay for certain movies that I might otherwise find worthwhile, but where I'm too squeamish for the explicit blood and gore. Call me a wimp -- but don't call me a control freak.

I'd reply the issue is not whether one can imagine, in a theoretical sense, some use by other than religious prudes - it's who wanted it, and for what. I found the section in the Congressional record, which states outright (my emphasis):

Before going into a title-by-title discussion of the bill, I would like to express my particular support for the Family Movie Act, which has been included in this legislation. Chairman LAMAR SMITH and I worked on this bill last Congress. It's important legislation both to parents who want the ability to use new technologies to help shield their families from inappropriate content as well as the technology companies, such as ClearPlay in my home State of Utah, that are working to develop these technologies. The Family Movie Act will give parents more say over what their children see, without limiting the creative control of directors and movie studios.

If that's who it's intended for, that's who it's intended for, as a simple statement of fact. ClearPlay is not a general service which happens to be also used by narrow-minded control freaks. It's a service for narrow-minded control freaks which people speculate might possibly conceivably potentially have a use by somebody else, but nobody has actually has seen it happen (which should tell you something!).

So, while I'm not opposed to such people now having a recognized right to bowdlerize movies for their own family, I think it's critically important to understand the political context of that section of the law. There is a reason that Congress (especially this Republican Congress) passed that particular copyright exemption, and that reason is far better rendered as not "user rights", but "Religious Right".

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight | on April 28, 2005 11:52 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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