It Could Happen Here, Too

June 23rd, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Today’s Los Angeles Times has an article on a subject that, while not specifically related to books, could impact other entertainment industries. For several years now, we’ve been reading about so-called “sanitizers” — companies that helpfully remove objectionable scenes from films. This, of course, is done without permission or input from the copyright owners. Now Congress is getting in the act, looking at ways to legalize this practice (we’ve had serious concerns with the way Congress supports the entertainment industry with regard to copyright, but this time we’re siding with the studios). We object to this legislation for reasons which should be obvious (who decides what is harmful to children and other living creatures? how does it affect the artistic vision? why can’t parents police their kids on their own?).

We know there is some precedent in publishing for this type of action — especially in the realm of international sales. Censorship remains a real and terrifying concept on this planet. But when private entities are allowed to slice-and-dice artistic works to meet some sort of undefined criteria (not all naked people are equal), that becomes a problem. And if they can re-envision a movie, then comes television, magazine articles, books…we’re all for protecting kids from age inappropriate information, but we also believe what we write, whether it be about sex, drugs, or violence, is important. If you find it objectionable and inappropriate for children, you have options (we like to call it the power of the credit card). But don’t codify self-serving censorship.

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