Family Entertainment and Copyright Act

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The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act is a federal legislative act regarding copyright that became law in the United States in 2005. The Act consists of two subparts: the Artist's Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005, which increases penalties for copyright infringement, and the Family Home Movie Act of 2005, which permits the development of technology to "sanitize" potentially offensive DVD and VOD content.

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was introduced into the United States Senate (of the 109th United States Congress) on January 25, 2005 by Senator Orrin Hatch (R - Utah), and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on April 27, 2005.

The act provides theater owners and employees with both civil and criminal immunity for questioning suspected violators or detaining them while police are summoned.

Artist's Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005[edit]

This act, also known as the "ART Act", is targeted at preventing piracy of movies and software. It specifically targets two activities: filming movies in a movie theater, and early release of movies and software before they become publicly available.

Anyone who "knowingly uses or attempts to use an audiovisual recording device to transmit or make a copy of a ... protected work... from a performance of such work in a motion picture exhibition facility..." may be imprisoned up to three years for a first time offender, and up to six years for a repeat offender, in addition to any fines that may be levied under the U.S. Criminal Code for copyright infringement. This could apply to merely taking a cell phone snapshot of a theatre screen.

With regard to unreleased works intended for public distribution (e.g., beta software or workprints), anyone who makes available a work that the copyright owner expects to distribute commercially, but is not yet distributed, shall be punished if the work is "made available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution." First time offenders can get up to three years in jail, or five if they committed the offense for financial gain. Repeat offenders can get ten years if the offense was committed for financial gain. These penalties are in addition to any penalties for violating non-disclosure agreements or trade secret law.

Family Home Movie Act of 2005[edit]

This section is an exemption of liability allowing the creation of technology that can edit a DVD movie on the fly and create a censored version of that movie. This provision arose out of a lawsuit between ClearPlay, a Salt Lake City-based company that markets DVD-sanitizing technology, and a number of Hollywood studios and directors. The ClearPlay technology allows a home consumer to screen out up to 14 different categories of objectionable content, such as drug use, sexual situations, or foul language.

The act does not permit one to create a new hardcopy of a movie in a completely "sanitized" format, nor does it permit the technology to replace or insert new video or audio to replace the offending content. Thus, a company cannot create and market a censored DVD copy of Goodfellas, but it can develop a DVD player or VOD player which can be programmed to skip past the objectional parts and/or blank out the objectional video or audio contained in a scene.

The act is codified in 17 U.S.C. 110(11)

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