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Coalitions for Freedom

chicago dyke's picture

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about coalition building of late, and how it is that a majority is held captive by a minority that gets smaller every day. I’ve argued in the past that we need to reach out to various members of other parts of the political continuum in this country, and that I’m with Dean in believing that no matter how much they may not think so, I’ve got much more in common with non-elite Bush supporters than they do with him. So this story struck me as having use in that project:

A lot of families don't like profanity or nudity in their films, so companies like CleanFlix purchase movies from Hollywood, edit out those portions, then resell the films to those families.

Well, a federal judge has declared this whole business an illegal violation of copyright law. This is a terrible ruling and it just adds to the rigidity of our copyright laws, which increasingly prevent people from modifying existing cultural resources-- even if they pay the original copyright holders.

Analysts like Larry Lessig in his book Free Culture have highlighted how this rigid modern version of copyright is shrinking the domain of cultural resources that the population can modify as needed for their own needs and enjoyment.

If the tech freedom folks want a killer coalition campaign, it's to come out in defense of CleanFlix and related firms and demand that copyright law be modified to expand the freedom to modify all cultural content once it's been purchased.

Nathan is spot on: I can’t see a coalition of radicals like me and ubertraditionals like Cleanflix and practically everyone in between failing to overcome, at least in a long term sense, the forces of Corporate content control.

Cleanflix proves the old addage of the pro-choice movement: it’s always about individual choice. Frankly, there are days when I agree that families with young kids should eliminate the following from film viewing:

We edit out:

Profanity
This includes the B-words, H-word when not referring to the place, D-word, S-
word, F-word, etc. It also includes references to deity (G-word and JC-words
etc.), only when these words are used in a non-religious context.

Graphic Violence
This does not mean all violence, only the graphic depictions of decapitation,
impalements, dismemberment, excessive blood, gore etc.

Nudity
This refers to male and female front and back nudity.

Sexual Content
This includes language which refers to sexual activity or has sexual
connotation. It also includes visual content of a graphic or stimulating
nature.

Granted, they’ve only got about 700 titles, a paltry sample compared to Netflix, but then again, I suppose there are so many movies being made these days that are all graphic sex and violence all the time, it must be hard to edit them and have more than 20 minutes of film left over.
Freedom is about choice. I like freedom, even when it means that some kids are going to have to wait until they get to college to see 48 Hours uncut. Everyone should have the right to make choices for their own family. At the dark heart of Corporatism, that idea is denied, and it’s time we reach out to friends on all sides to combat that.

...and little blurb just pisses me off:

Directors can feel vindicated by the ruling, said Michael Apted, president of the Director's Guild of America.

"Audiences can now be assured that the films they buy or rent are the vision of the filmmakers who made them and not the arbitrary choices of a third-party editor," he said.

Anyone who knows anything about Hollywood knows that directors haven't had creative and content freedom for a long time, if they ever did. I recall Joss Wheadon speaking once about showing episodes of Buffy to "the suits," as he called them, and pleading with them in that show's early years to allow him to explore such dangerous topics as girls who don't take it lying down and who sometimes kiss and have nonChristian friends (albeit undead ones, but still). The simple fact is that the actually creative people are only halfway up the decision making chain, if that high, in the tortured process of deciding what we get to see on TV and film. It's patently obvious to me when propaganda is inserted into our visual culture, just as it's more than obvious that people with real talent are shunted into environments and projects that belie their abilities, in favor of perpetuating stereotypes which serve no one's interests but those in power.

As a proponent in the battle for Net Neutrality and for the evolution of meme propagators who are members of the unwashed masses, I call bullshit. The only people this ruling protects are the very people trying to sell me a pig's ear and call it a silk purse. Some of us are not fooled, and some of us know what it is you fear most: people with talent producing and freely disseminating media that makes your crap look like the crap it is. Fanfiction and independent production isn't just the wave of the future, it's the death knell of the Hollywood system. I'm just glad that this ruling only applies to the US, the rest of the young and creative in the world will happily move along without taking notice.

Viva The Phantom Edit!

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