Copyright Bill OKs Sanitized Movies

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TiVo Inc. digital-video-recorder owners can breathe easier after language was struck from a copyright bill that passed Congress Sunday that would have prevented such devices from skipping over commercials and show promos or otherwise modified content. Public Knowledge and other fair-use fans had argued that the provision was ludicrous.

Striking the language means that companies like Clear Play can still offer DVD's that produce sex- and violence-filtered versions of movies, although it will have to label such copies as modified from the director's or copyright holder's original version.

Hollywood had opposed such devices, arguing that they violated the artist's vision (similar to complaints levied against edits for TV and colorizing). A version of the bill had made it out of the Judiciary Committee with the no-commercial-skipping language, but it did not survive.

Other provisions that made it out of Judiciary but were left on the cutting-room floor would have given the Justice Department the power to file copyright suits on behalf of studios and music producers, and a change to the copyright standard that would have made passive technologies and software targets as secondary copyright violaters instead of confining it to those who actively abetted illegal copying.

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