A House committee chairman is pressuring for a settlement between the Directors Guild Association (DGA) and ClearPlay, the company that offers technology that allows DVD players to skip over violence,

A House committee chairman is pressuring for a settlement between the Directors Guild Association (DGA) and ClearPlay, the company that offers technology that allows DVD players to skip over violence, swearing, nudity and other potentially objectionable content in movies.

Salt Lake City-based ClearPlay has been the target of a copyright infringement lawsuit in Colorado's 10th District Court filed by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and other members of the DGA in 2002, when the filtering product was available only as a computer program.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., instructed the committee's copyright panel to investigate the dispute between ClearPlay and the DGA, with a mid-May target for a hearing, according to committee spokesman Jeff Lungren.

"Chairman Sensenbrenner would prefer the parties to reach agreement to thereby eliminate the need for Congress to act on this issue, but nonetheless the chairman is prepared to have a hearing on it and is obviously closely monitoring the situation," Lundgren says.

The DGA contends that the company is altering an artistic, copyrighted work without the permission of the rights holder. The organization has said that the ClearPlay device "edits movies to conform to ClearPlay's vision of a movie instead of letting audiences see, and judge for themselves, what writers wrote, what actors said and what directors envisioned."

"I think the public is well-served by the interest and involvement of Chairman Sensenbrenner, as well as Sub-Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch and Rep. Chris Cannon," ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho said when contacted for comment. "They have been working overtime to find a solution to bring this technology to families. At the same time, I think both the DGA and the studios would like to make something work that is both good for families and acceptable to the movie industry."

ClearPlay contends that its product doesn't violate copyright laws. The company says its product is analogous to the fast-forward, mute, skip and playback functions on a garden-variety DVD player.

The ClearPlay technology is built into a $79 DVD player from Thomson Inc.'s RCA brand and is available as a stand-alone program for computers.

ClearPlay's technology doesn't physically alter a DVD. Instead, it provides software-driven filters that change the way a movie is played on ClearPlay-enabled DVD players, automatically muting and skipping past scenes of violence, foul language, nudity and drug use, though only on selected, pre-screened titles.

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