Bill to let families sanitize Hollywood videos one step away from congressional approval

Wednesday, March 9th 2005, 1:37 pm

By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A bill that would let parents and children filter the curse words, sex scenes and violence out of movie DVDs moved closer to approval by Congress on Wednesday.

The House Judiciary Committee on voice vote gave the legislation its endorsement, sending it to the full House.

The Senate passed the bill earlier this year. If representatives now pass it without changes, it would go to President Bush for his signature.

The legislation was introduced because Hollywood studios and directors had sued to stop the makers and distributors of technology for DVD players that would skip movie scenes deemed offensive. The movies' creators had argued that changing the content would violate their copyrights.

But the legislation would create an exemption in the copyright laws to make sure companies that offer the technology like ClearPlay, a Salt Lake City business, won't get sued out of existence.

``These days, I don't think anyone would even consider buying a DVD player that doesn't come with a remote control,'' said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. ``Yet there are some who would deny parents the right to use an equivalent electronic device to protect their children from offensive material.''

In addition, the bill, called the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, would create new penalties for criminals who use small videocameras to record and sell bootlegged copies of first-run films.

If the bill becomes law, people convicted of using cameras to bootleg movies could face as much as three years in federal prison plus fines, with the sentence doubling to six years upon a second conviction.

It also would reauthorize a Library of Congress program dedicated to saving rare, culturally significant works.

``The films saved by the program do not enjoy the protection of big studios,'' said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. ``Rather, the act will help to preserve avant-garde works, home movies, silent-era films, and other treasures that shed a great deal of light on America's past.''

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