PTC Pushes for Family Movie Act Clarification

The Parents Television Council is calling on House and Senate leaders to pass the Family Movie Act Clarification Act.

That the bill that would make it clear that digital versions of movies (the bill does not mention TV shows, though PTC said it would apply to them, too) delivered over authorized distribution platforms can be modified to remove explicit content and that circumvention of copy protection in order to do that does not violate copyright so long as there is "no demonstrated and avoidable economic injury to the copyright owner or the authorized digital transmission provider."

Copyright law generally prevents "the circumvention of technological measures employed by or on behalf of copyright owners to protect access to their works." 

The bill would also prohibit copyright owners from preventing such edits via contract, saying: "No person asserting the rights of a motion picture copyright owner may prevent or impede by contract the provision of a service as described..."

“With the quickly approaching end of 2018 and, along with it, the quickly approaching end of this session of Congress, we call on our elected leaders in Washington immediately to pass the Family Movie Act Clarification Act and present it to the President for his signature, thereby providing an important and urgently-needed Christmas present for parents and for families,” said PTC president Tim Winter in a statement.

Winter called the legislation a "no-brainer." He said it "simply brings the Family Movie Act – which allows families to filter explicit content from DVDs – onto contemporary streaming media platforms used by most Americans today. The pending legislation is consistent with, and perfectly honors, the Congressional intent expressed when the original measure became law in 2005."

The issue of whether the Family Movie Act, which dates from 2005, was central to the fight between VidAngel and studios over its editing of digitally copied and distributed versions of the DVDs that the act does allow to be modified.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.