On July 6th, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ruled that companies that “sanitize” hollywood films are liable for copyright infringement. In this long-awaited ruling, Judge Matsch ruled in favor of 16 film directors, including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Robert Redford, finding 3 utah-based companies liable for copyright infringement, and ordering them to immediately discontinue their partcitces of producing, creating and renting out films that have been edited to exclude sex, swearing and other ‘objectionable' content.The defendants (CleanFlicks, Play It Clean Video and CleanFilms) are all Utah based companies that follow in the footsteps of Sunrise Family Video which, in 1998 took the controversial step of sanitizing the film “Titanic” by deleting scenes depicting the film's star, Kate Winslet in the nude. (As many as 90 other such companies exist in the U.S.)
The Judge ruled that deleting content from a finished movie is an “illegitimate business”, and constitutes “unauthorized editing”.
This type of infringement (the unauthorized making of derivative works), causes irreprable injury to the creative artistic expression of the filmmakers.
Filmmakers and the Directors Guild of America praised the ruling, which assures Audiences that they are seeing the films as intended by the filmmakers, and not the product of some third-party's arbitrary hatchet-job.
The companies have vowed to appeal…. stay tuned!