In a move that will make cinephile parents extremely happy, Sony has announced a new feature that will allow customers to purchase “clean” versions of their favorite movies. Similar to what a parent might expect from an airplane or basic cable viewing, the versions remove any material that’s considered too mature for children, including profane language, nudity, and excessive violence. This is a huge win for any parent hoping to watch some movies free of f-bombs or gory fight scenes around their kids. But that’s just a bonus. Sony made the decision to shut down the very weird but very real world of Christian movie pirating.
Copyright law prohibits third parties from selling edited versions of studio movies, but thanks to the bizarre Family Movie Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2005, companies could sell films edited by software meant to remove more adult content. This led to the creation of several companies, such as ClearPlay and CleanFlicks, that made “family-friendly” versions of popular movies. The shady business practice eventually began to get shut down by judges, but that wouldn’t stop the Christian pirates from taking dirty content out of movies so a good amount of them just started doing it illegally.
Whether or not you have a stake in the Christian movie pirating war, this is a pretty helpful move by Sony. It’s hard to watch, say, Step Brothers or some guns-heavy Sci-Fi when the kids are within earshot. And while editing out the glorious f-bombs and violence that defines so many movies may in some ways castrate them, the re-edited versions do make family viewings a bit easier. At the end of the day, if it helps parents watch the occasional movie free of singing farm animals, well, that’s a win.