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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Studios Tell Prude|to Knock It Off

PHOENIX (CN) - Ten major movie studios, including Paramount, MGM and Disney, sued an Arizona man who runs Family Edited DVDs Inc., to stop him from Bowdlerizing movies and selling them with "dialogue and scenes which defendants deemed 'objectionable'" removed.

The studios want John Webster, of Queen Creek, to knock it off, plus costs and damages for copyright violations.

The studios claim Webster has "unlawfully edited, sold and/or otherwise distributed" even such family favorites as the Harry Potter films, "Forrest Gump," and "The Princess Bride," and sold the Bowdlerized flicks on multiple websites.

Webster charges customers "$7.50 for each DVD-R copy of an altered movie (with a minimum order requirement of 10 DVD-Rs), without the authorization of the studios and in violation of the Copyright Act," according to the federal complaint.

The plaintiff studios - which include Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony and Universal - say Webster sells his DVDs without "copyright protection measures used by the studios on retail DVDs. As a result, the edited motion pictures are highly vulnerable to further unauthorized copying and other forms of infringement."

The studios say they contacted Family Edited and demanded it stop copying, editing and selling the DVDs, but it refused. They claim that "Webster is directly liable for the acts of copyright infringement alleged herein in that he is responsible for and personally participates in the creating, selling, distributing and/or offering in commerce, edited copies of the Studios' motion pictures on

DVDs." And they say that despite their protests and demands, he continues "without authorization from the studios, to copy and edit the studios' motion pictures, and to sell and otherwise publicly distribute such altered copies of the studios' motion pictures."

The studios demand disgorgement of Webster's unjust profits, damages, costs and an injunction.

They are represented by Don Martin and Nicole France Stanton with Quarles and Brady.

Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825) published an expurgated version of Shakespeare, which he called the "Family Shakespeare." He edited the greatest artist the human race has produced with help from his sister Harriet. Bowdler produced a similar version of Edward Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

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