The big studios are on the warpath against the Family Friendly Edited DVDs company, which deletes the risque content from Hollywood fare for resale online. A small truckload of movie makers have sued the outfit in an Arizona federal district court. The plaintiffs include Paramount, Warner Brothers, Sony, Disney, Universal, and Fox.
"Defendants are in the business of preparing, copying and distributing bowdlerized versions of movies, including the Motion Pictures, to which Defendants do not own the copyrights. This constitutes willful copyright infringement," their complaint charges.
Out bleeped spot!
"Bowdlerized"—now there's a word you don't see in print too often any more. Thomas Bowdler was the editor of his Family Shakespeare, first released in four volumes in 1807. It cleaned the nasty bits out of The Bard's major works.
"I acknowledge Shakespeare to be the world's greatest dramatic poet, but regret that no parent could place the uncorrected book in the hands of his daughter, and therefore I have prepared the Family Shakespeare," Bowdler famously declared.
Thus Lady Macbeth's famous utterance "Out, Damned spot" became "Out, Crimson spot," and Mercutio's "the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon" became "the hand of the dial is now upon the point of noon."
Whatever you think of this sort of editing, Bowdler had an advantage over his heirs. Shakespeare's works were in the public domain. The flicks that Family Friendly tidies up and resells for ten bucks a pop are not. They include Bravehart, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and Glory.
The studios don't appreciate this sort of service. They want a "temporary, preliminary and permanent" injunction against Family Friendly's activities, plus an order requiring the company to "deliver up for impound and disposal" its inventory. Looks like the outfit is already working on that, advertising a "liquidation" sale of all their fare.
This isn't the first time this sort of controversy has come up. There were similar enterprises in the middle of the decade, but most got their clocks cleaned by infringement suits.
We contacted Family Friendly for comment but received no reply.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Hollywood studios sue over "bowdlerized" DVDs