SALT LAKE CITY: Just as its technology hits stores, ClearPlay is having to deal with a vocal opposition - and a lawsuit - against it. The innovation allows viewers to block from DVDs sex, violence, and other material that some might find offensive.
ClearPlay's technology, which is now in some RCA DVD players, is available at selected Wal-Marts and will soon find its way to other retailers. But the company faces two PR challenges: how to deal with accusations that it illegally alters copyright-protected material and how to promote the technology in the midst of the controversy.
"It's very important that customers understand what our product does," said ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho. "There are some parties who believe anything like this is terrible. But once people understand that it doesn't affect the disc, that you play a regular DVD, and that it's the viewer who decides what they want to watch, they are overwhelmingly supportive."
ClearPlay is working with Ink Inc. PR to get the DVD players into the hands of journalists, who have been positive in their coverage once they understand how the technology works, said Aho, who added that the press continues to want to talk about the flap.
The Directors Guild of America and several movie studios have brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against ClearPlay. Morgan Rumpf, the guild's communications director, said the group has no problem with parents deciding what films to watch with their kids. What it objects to is editing and altering films, he said. Some members, such as director Steven Soderbergh, have spoken to the media about the guild's concerns.
But Ink Inc. is doing its best to concentrate the media's gaze on the product, not the controversy.
"We're trying to focus on the introduction of a new consumer-friendly product," explained agency CEO Dick Grove. "We're talking about how this is about parental control and individual choice."