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New DVD Players Can Filter Movie Content
Apr 19, 2004
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A new DVD player from RCA makes filtering content possible.

Thomson, which owns the RCA brand, will sell the players in some Wal-Mart and Kmart stores as well as on Wal-Mart's Web site starting this month even as the filtering software they employ faces a legal challenge from Hollywood, CA, U.S.

"I think there may be a market for something that gives the parent more control and does it in a way that doesn't alter the original presentation," said Dave Arland, an RCA spokesman.

The filtering software is from ClearPlay, which had offered it previously for watching DVDs on computers and began talking to RCA last year about a standalone player.

The DVD player carries a suggested retail price of U.S. $79.

Filters for newer releases are available each week through a monthly subscription of $4.95, though getting them into the player is cumbersome. The filters are downloaded via the Internet and burned onto a CD for transfer to the DVD player. ClearPlay's library currently contains filters for about 500 movies.

RCA has other parental control features on its products, including v-chips in its television sets, which allow parents to block certain programs in their entirety.

DVDs also can be watched unfiltered. No filters are created for extra content, including deleted scenes and documentaries. For movies where violence is central, such as "The Passion of the Christ," no filter will be created at all, said Bill Aho, ClearPlay chairman.

The DGA and studios filed a lawsuit in 2002 against ClearPlay and a Colorado video rental store, CleanFlicks, which uses its own software to decode a DVD, alter it for content, then burn a new, edited version, back onto a DVD for rental.

The lawsuit is still pending. ClearPlay contends its software is not illegal because it does not alter the original DVD.

RCA's Mr. Arland said the company is monitoring the lawsuit but decided to introduce the model after major retailers expressed interest in the technology.

Analysts question how successful the new DVD player will be, especially considering that an existing parental control technology, the v-chip, is barely used.

"I think they'll sell a few units, but I don't see a groundswell of demand," said Todd Chanko, an analyst with Jupiter Research. (Associated Press

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