Slapping the *#@! out of copyright violators

| Tue Jul. 11, 2006 6:22 PM EDT

U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch has ordered the copyright violators known as "film sanitizers" to cease and desist their activities. Those who scrub DVDs and VHS tapes of what they consider objectionable material are in violation of the studios and directors who own the film rights, Matsch ruled on Thursday.

The companies named in the Denver lawsuit included CleanFlicks, Play It Clean Video and Clean Films. These companies remove profanity, sexual scenes and graphic violence from films and then rent and sell the edited versions. Around ninety video stores, half of them in Utah, rent CleanFlicks movies to customers.

"Their (studios and directors) objective ... is to stop the infringement because of its irreparable injury to the creative artistic expression in the copyrighted movies,'' the judge wrote. ''There is a public interest in providing such protection.''

Judge Matsch has ordered the companies to turn their inventories over to the appropriate movie studios within five days of the ruling.