Artists' Rights and Wrongs

When Clean Films (formerly Clean Flicks) and a handful of other Utah-based companies, capitalizing on new digital technologies that allow for popular films to be edited to exclude objectionable material (primarily sex, language, and violence), began the commercial distribution of these altered films to a burgeoning market, artists and their representative bodies were incensed. Decrying the unauthorized alteration of copyrighted artwork, opponents insist that the practice is both unethical and illegal, adding that it's no different than tearing pages out of a book. Advocates of 'clean' films contend that if the consumer's prerogative is to remove pages from a book they've purchased, their action is both moral and protected under the law. The issues are far from simple and expose a very murky and uneasy relationship between art, business, and law in the United States, particularly in the digital age. Whose rights are protected under what laws? Is this a matter of copyright, free speech, censorship, or artists' rights? And where do the studios stand? How will they respond to what is clearly a growing market for edited films? How do they differentiate the alterations they make for television, airplanes, and other rereleases. this panel is supported by the Los Angeles Times.

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