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Thursday, May 05, 2005


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Art Hutchinson

This ducks the question of granularity. Your previous post held up choice as an absolute, ("...people do and should have the right to watch or not watch content they find objectionable for any reason. Parents do and should have the right to determine the viewing content of their minor children. Period.") And yet if choice is to mean anything beyond all-or-nothing (i.e., "watch it only this way and watch ALL of it or don't watch it at all"), the 'integrity' of a work as it hits the viewer *will* be compromised - one way or another. The fact that private modifications don't seem to bother rightsholders much says to me that this has less to do with artistic integrity and more to do with greed.

Reasonable people have differed on this point in the past, as evidenced by the debates about how quickly and automatically Tivo users should be able to fast forward. Videotaping in theatres is at best an imperfect analogy since no revenue ever passed to the rightsholders.

Yes, distinctions can be made today between private filters and ones that are distributed more widely, but I suspect that, even if the FMA is reversed at some point in the future (a political non-starter if only because opposition to it would be tarred as being 'anti-family'), those distinctions will be increasingly difficult to make, much less enforce.

Rather than a holding action, rightsholders might want to think about an open-source successor to ClearPlay based on a P2P network overseass. The demand is there. Studios would be better off innovating to serve it better rather than digging in their heels to fight it. That didn't work too well with music.

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