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Labels Will Tell Viewers of Movie Changes

October 28, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ New labels will soon show up on movies released for television and home video that will mean little to most viewers but a lot to movie makers.

Labels will tell viewers that the original movie-theatre version of the film has been changed to fit a television screen. The printed message will appear on video boxes and on the videotape for about four seconds before the opening credits.

The point is to alert viewers that the TV version deviates from the original artistic creation.

The voluntary labels are an effort by the Motion Picture Association of America to head off congressional action sought by film writers, directors and cinematographers.

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate that addresses the copyright and trademark issues raised when a movie creator’s work is changed to fit the time and screen-size constraints of TV.

But Rep. William Hughes, D-N.J., chairman of the House Judiciary intellectual property subcommittee, said the voluntary labels satisfy his immediate concerns about the problem.

The film makers wanted extensive language on the label that would detail the cuts and note creators’ objections to the effects on narrative, characterization and composition.

Jack Valenti, MPAA president, said the labels must be brief and should be worked out without interference from Congress.

″I have long believed that the industry should do for itself what ought to be done,″ said Jack Valenti, MPAA president. ″Most congressmen will agree this is not a burning constituent issue.″

Modifications include editing to meet broadcast standards, time compression and expansion, colorization and ″panning and scanning,″ which takes place when a motion picture shot for a rectangular movie screen is prepared for the small, more square television screen.

The alternative to panning and scanning is called ″letterboxing,″ which retains theatrical images on rectangular shape, but creates a black band at the top and bottom of the TV screen.

Labels for movies that have been panned and scanned will say: ″This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your TV.″

If the film also has been sped up or slowed down to fit a set programming schedule, the label will say: ″This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your TV and edited for content and to run in the time allotted.″

Colorized films will be labeled: ″This is a colorized version of the original black-and-white film.″

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