Life lessons from Hannibal Lecter

Those wily movie sanitizers just won’t take "no" for an answer. According to the Deseret Morning News, some of them continue to do business under an "educational use" loophole in the law.

Flix Club owner Daniel Thompson says the ruling isn’t a law yet

Oh sorry, my bad. An "educational use" loophole in the ruling handed down in July 2006 forbidding unauthorized movie-editing by companies like CleanFlicks and CleanFilms.

and until it is he operates under the so-called "educational loophole" in copyright law.

However, attorneys, experts on copyright law and even Thompson himself agree it’s almost a race against the clock to see how long that loophole can hold out against Hollywood (emphasis added).

"I run things as if I could be shut down at anytime," said Thompson, who formerly owned four CleanFlicks stores in Utah County. "And that would be really sad, but that’s reality. You have to face the facts. If they called me tomorrow and said, ‘We (changed) the loophole, I’ll comply."’

This raises an interesting ethical question. If you know that your actions are illegal–in spirit, if not in letter–are they still wrong? Can you still sleep well at night with this knowledge?

Of course, by virtue of this article’s very appearance in a major newspaper, the half-life of Thompson’s little underground business venture just got a whole lot shorter.

I love the reporter’s slight editorial comment at the outset of the story, which really reveals a lot about the absurdity of this latest practice:

The educational value of such movies as "Silence of the Lambs" or "Austin Powers" may not be easily identified, even if the films have been stripped of any profanity, sex and violence.

But I feel she’s letting Thompson off far too easy. Can anyone identify a legitimate reason why these (or most) movies should be shown in a classroom, let alone for so-called "educational purposes"?

Hey, I hate trashy movies as much as (if not more than) the next guy. Perhaps U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch, who delivered last summer’s controversial ruling, does too. But I wholly agree with his statement:

The accused parties … have submitted many communications from viewers expressing their appreciation for the opportunity to view movies in the setting of the family home without concern for any harmful effects on their children. This argument is inconsequential to copyright law and is addressed in the wrong forum. This Court is not free to determine the social value of copyrighted works. What is protected are the creator’s rights to protect its creation in the form in which it was created.

So there you go. Law is law, even if it makes it difficult to show "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" to the kiddies.

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