It's still unclear if the Directors Guild of America (DGA) plans to sue hardware manufacturer RCA and retail giant Wal-Mart for making and selling a new ClearPlay-enabled DVD player.
LOS ANGELES--It's still unclear if the Directors Guild of America (DGA) plans to sue hardware manufacturer RCA and retail giant Wal-Mart for making and selling a new ClearPlay-enabled DVD player.
Two years ago, the DGA and Hollywood film studios sued Utah-based ClearPlay, which makes downloadable filters for films that bypass scenes with graphic language, sex and violence. The plaintiffs had alleged that ClearPlay's technology violated studio copyrights and misrepresented directors' finished films.
In December, ClearPlay filed a brief asking for summary judgement in the U.S. District Court in Colorado. The motion is pending.
A new DVD player made by RCA, priced at $79.98, includes ClearPlay filtering software for 100 recent films. Consumers who buy the player can also sign up for a $4.95 monthly ClearPlay service to get all of the latest filters, or can order a CD-ROM from ClearPlay which includes 500 separate filters for $20.
The players are available at Walmart.com, and are currently shipping to Wal-Mart stores. Kmart is also expected to carry them.
Neither the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) nor the DGA would comment about the possible inclusion of RCA or retailers in another lawsuit concerning ClearPlay.
"Our position is that we oppose anyone or any enterprise who alters or changes our copyrighted materials," says Matthew Grossman, director of digital strategy and corporate communications for the MPAA. "We are not going into any details about the litigation."
Morgan Rumpf, spokesman for the DGA, says, "ClearPlay's software changes the very meaning and intent of both individual scenes and movies. Ultimately, it is a violation of law and just wrong to profit from selling software that changes the intent of movies you didn't create and don't own."
ClearPlay and RCA are unaware of any potential new legal actions.
"Like with any technology, the industry needs time to study and develop it," says ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho. He says ClearPlay features will be available on virtually any hardware device that plays movies in the future. The company is in talks with other manufacturers about licensing its technology.
Dave Arland, spokesman for RCA, says that his company is aware of the suit. "The decision to move ahead with a ClearPlay-equipped player was based on feedback from our major customers," he says. "There is heightened interest in parental control."
Wal-Mart did not return calls by deadline.