People wanting to automatically mute the foul language in "Seabiscuit" or skip the violence in "The Patriot" have a new option -- a DVD player from RCA that filters content deemed objectionable.

People wanting to automatically mute the foul language in "Seabiscuit" or skip the violence in "The Patriot" have a new option -- a DVD player from RCA that filters content deemed objectionable.

Thomson, which owns the RCA brand, will sell the players in some Wal-Mart and Kmart stores as well as on Wal-Mart's Web site starting this month even as the filtering software they employ faces a legal challenge from Hollywood.

"I think there may be a market for something that gives the parent more control and does it in a way that doesn't alter the original presentation," said Dave Arland, an RCA spokesman.

The filtering software is from ClearPlay, which had offered it previously for watching DVDs on computers and began talking to RCA last year about a standalone player.

The partners are hoping the current stir over broadcast decency, spurred by Janet Jackson's breast-baring Super Bowl show, will help boost sales.

"The reality is people have pushed the limit so far, that there are people who want to have that kind of control," Arland said.

The DVD player carries a suggested retail price of $79 and will ship with 100 filters for movies such as "Daredevil" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

Filters for newer releases are available each week through a monthly subscription of $4.95, though getting them into the player is cumbersome. The filters are downloaded over the Internet and burned onto a CD for transfer to the DVD player. ClearPlay's library currently contains filters for about 500 movies.

Hollywood studios are not amused.

"ClearPlay software 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," the Directors Guild of America says in a statement.

"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," the statement says.

The DGA and studios filed a lawsuit in 2002 against ClearPlay and a Colorado video rental store, CleanFlicks, which uses its own software to decode a DVD, alter it for content, then burn a new, edited version, back onto a DVD for rental.

The lawsuit is still pending. ClearPlay contends its software is not illegal because it does not alter the original DVD.

RCA's Arland said the company is monitoring the lawsuit but decided to introduce the model after major retailers expressed interest in the technology.


AP LogoCopyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print