“Naughty Bits: An Empirical Study of What Consumers Would Mute and Excise from Hollywood Fare if Only They Could”, an article co-authored with Doug Lichtman, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A.
Should parents have the freedom to block potentially offensive language, sexuality, and violence from the films their children watch at home? Should an adult with reservations about explicit material be allowed to experience the movie Titanic without that film’s one notorious nude scene, or Schindler’s List without its most uncomfortable audio and video moments? And are these freedoms rightly limited by the relevant decision-maker’s ability to engage the fast-forward and mute buttons quickly enough, or should copyright law make room for more sophisticated solutions, even over the objections of a hostile copyright community? In this Article, we offer a unique contribution to this long-running debate: detailed data about what consumers would mute and excise from Hollywood films if only they could. Specifically, we report on the decisions made by roughly 300,000 viewers as they filtered and then watched nearly 4 million movie streams during calendar year 2016. The data, we argue, make a strong case in favor of a permissive copyright regime where viewers would have significant freedom to filter films according to their own religious, moral, and public policy convictions.