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New Anti-Smut DVD Player

CYBERSPACE, 2004 (D.O.T.) - Wal-Mart is selling the world's first DVD player that can seamlessly skip over violence, swearing, nudity and other potentially offensive movie content. The $79 unit features technology by ClearPlay and is manufactured by Thomson Inc. under its RCA brand.

The product comes in the wake of the Super Bowl halftime controversy as well as the FCC fining Clear Channel for indecent content on "The Howard Stern Show." But ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho said the timing is coincidental. "It's just fortunate," he said. "There is a lot of interest and sensitivity around the topic of potentially offensive media content."

RCA's player is the latest development in a legal battle between the Salt Lake City-based company and Hollywood . The Directors Guild of America (DGA) filed suit against ClearPlay in September 2002, when the filtering product was available as a computer program. Those legal proceedings are still under way in Colorado , and the DGA is sticking to its guns.

"ClearPlay software edits movies to conform to ClearPlay's vision of a movie instead of letting audiences see, and judge for themselves, what writers wrote, what actors said and what directors envisioned," says a DGA spokesman. "Ultimately, it is a violation of law and just wrong to profit from selling software that changes the intent of movies you didn't create and don't own."

Consumers can play any DVD in these units in the usual manner. In addition, however, they can activate a variety of different filtering levels that work according to ClearPlay's preprogramming. The player filtering works only on selected titles. It has no effect on movies that it has not been preprogrammed to handle. But for those it doesn't recognize, it has the capability to completely block movies based on their rating.

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