House Panel Seeks Clarity On ClearPlay

A Congressional House panel is losing patience with a fight between Hollywood dire

A Congressional House panel is losing patience with a fight between Hollywood directors and ClearPlay, a company that offers technology that allows DVD players to skip over violence, swearing, nudity and other potentially objectionable content in movies.

The members of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property are of two minds about what to do about the problem.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Tex., the subcommittee chairman, said after a hearing yesterday (May 20) that if the two sides can't negotiate a compromise, he'll introduce legislation soon to allow ClearPlay to be sold legally.

His ranking Democratic member, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Cal. -- also irritated that the two sides haven't worked out a solution -- sides with Hollywood.

"I do not believe Congress should give companies the right to alter, distort and mutilate creative works, or to sell otherwise-infringing products that do functionally the same thing," Berman said in a written statement. "I believe such legislation would be an affront to the artistic freedom of creators. It would violate fundamental principles of copyright and trademark law."

The recording industry is not involved with the legal wrangle, but is monitoring the Congressional reaction for what could become a legislative precedent to allow software to alter the creative intent of recording artists and producers.

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