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Selling Filtered Films Steals Others' Work

November 20, 2002

In "There Shouldn't Be a Remote Control on How We Watch DVDs" (Commentary, Nov. 11), Ernest Miller writes, "Technology has given consumers the ability to control how they watch movies in their homes, and the [Directors Guild of America] wants to take that control away by banning the technology."

Nonsense. Consumers have the absolute ability to control how they watch movies in their own homes. Our lawsuit isn't about companies selling tools to create alternate versions. It's about companies selling their own versions of someone else's film. What a company such as MovieMask does is neither the legal nor the ethical equivalent of using a remote control. MovieMask creates "fixed" alternative versions of films. It sells software that presents its own preprogrammed, derivative versions of the films. MovieMask boasts that soon-to-be-released future versions of its "masks" will not just have the ability to remove but also to add things (such as product placements) and to change images (such as swords into light sabers in "The Princess Bride" or an actress' wardrobe) and words.

Consumers can use their remotes to fast-forward through scenes, press "mute" to eliminate language they find offensive, watch the same scene over and over again or do anything else they want. A consumer can even edit a videotape he or she has purchased. But this is not the issue involved here. MovieMask, CleanFlicks and the other companies want to make a business out of selling their own versions of someone else's work -- and that's just wrong.

Martha Coolidge

President, Directors Guild

of America, Los Angeles

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