Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has introduced the Family Movie Act, which states that movie filtering software does not violate copyright law. The Family Movie Act (H.R. 4586), introduced June 16, also sa

LOS ANGELES -- Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has introduced the Family Movie Act, which states that movie filtering software does not violate copyright law.

The Family Movie Act (H.R. 4586), introduced June 16, also says that the copyright owner retains exclusive rights to a film's audio and video content. A hearing on the bill took place June 17 before the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, which is headed by Smith.

The bill comes amid a House Subcommittee investigation into a lawsuit between ClearPlay -- a company that manufactures movie filtering software -- and the Directors Guild of America (DGA). At a May 20 hearing, Smith said that legislation allowing the legal sale of ClearPlay software would be introduced if the two parties did not settle their dispute.

ClearPlay's software allows film viewers to bypass scenes they deem as potentially inappropriate for children.

The DGA filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against ClearPlay in 2002. Plaintiffs that include Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Steven Soderbergh allege that ClearPlay's technology misrepresents directors' finished films and violates studio copyrights.

The DGA is strongly opposed to the Family Movie Act. In a statement, the organization says, "As the creators of films, directors oppose giving someone the legal ability to alter in any way they choose, for any purpose, and for profit, the content of a film that a director has made, often after many years of work.

"This legislation is about much more than giving consumers a choice in what they watch and don't watch," the organization adds. "Unidentified employees of electronic editing companies make the choices of what is edited out of each film they review -- it is their choices that govern and not the consumer's."

ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho says, "We think it's a good bill. We think Rep. Smith's intentions are exactly right. As new technologies emerge, the law needs clarification.

"At the same time, we would love to find a common solution with the studios," he continues. "It has proven very, very difficult, and could, frankly, be impossible. I have had over 30 meetings in Los Angeles with studios. We are very committed to trying to find a solution. It might be that a legislative solution may be the only one that may work."

ClearPlay was targeted by another lawsuit May 13, filed by Nissim Corp., the creator of a movie filtering product called CustomPlay. Nissim claims that the new ClearPlay-enabled DVD players, which debuted in April from RCA, infringe its patents.